Oil, brine spill at McKenzie County well site

The New Town-based Slawson Exploration Company reported that around 11,000 gallons of crude oil and more than 16,000 gallons of produced water spilled on Sunday, with all of the product contained to the well pad.

FSA oil spill

BISMARCK — Almost 11,000 gallons of crude oil and more than 16,000 gallons of produced water spilled on a well site northwest of Keene in McKenzie County on Sunday, Aug. 8, according to a report from the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality.

Produced water, or brine, is a byproduct of fracking that is highly saturated with salt and can contain fracking fluids, hydrocarbons and other contaminants damaging to local ecology and agricultural land.

New Town-based Slawson Exploration Company operates the well site and reported the release of 260 barrels of oil and 340 barrels of brine to the state's Oil and Gas Division, attributing the spill to equipment failure.

The spill was discovered when an employee arrived and noticed gas leaking from a building on the well pad. Immediately, the company killed its natural gas flares and shut in the oil wells, finding later that equipment had washed out, allowing for the oil and brine spills.

All of the fluids were contained to the well pad, where cleanup is underway, according to the Department of Environmental Quality.


An inspector from the state visited the site and plans to monitor additional remediation.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Adam Willis, a Report for America corps member, at

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