Valve Fails, Fracking Fluid Spills in OK

Wednesday, March 9, 2016 @ 01:03 PM gHale


After an underground valve malfunctioned, thousands of barrels of wastewater injection fluid spilled into Polecat Creek in Grant County, OK, Monday, state officials said.

Based on metering, Special Energy Corporation, the Stillwater-based company, said 18,000 barrels of wastewater remain unaccounted for, said Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC) Spokesman Matt Skinner.

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Skinner said a spill of such size is pretty rare.

“There is no doubt it got into Polecat Creek but how much, at this point, it’s impossible to say,” Skinner said. “The chloride readings are high but not as high as one would expect for that amount of water. It didn’t travel just into the creek; it did travel elsewhere.”

Skinner said the creek feeds into Pond Creek and eventually the Salt Fork River.

Special Energy spokesman Don Terry said the leak never got to Pond Creek or the Salt Fork. The company setup a “capture pit” to catch the toxic fluid before it made its way to Pond Creek.

The company hired Enviro Clean to take action and help with the situation, Skinner said.

“Some of it got into a dry creek bed,” he said. “The 18,000 was probably the total and a bulk of that was captured in the dry bank bed.”

Terry said the company became aware of the situation early last week. He said Special Energy bought the properties from Devon Energy six months ago.

“The salinity in the recent sample is getting close to the normal waterway,” he said. “We need to come back in and flush fresh water from where the spill occurred to the south to make sure nothing residual is in place.”

Skinner said it was OCC’s understanding that an underground valve malfunctioned, causing the leak.

To ensure it doesn’t happen again, Terry said the company is reconfiguring the pipelines.

“No fish or wildlife were damaged — we’ve walked the area, flown the area, to make sure everything is OK,” he said. “We’ve talked to surface owners along the creek, where the dry bed runs, and they haven’t seen an impact. Most of it was limited to the bottom of the creek bed. It didn’t rise up and flow off onto anyone’s land.”

Special Energy Corporation is an independent oil and gas operating company.