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Produced water spill reported near Fairfield

A truck carrying “produced water” from oil and gas development overturned four miles west of Fairfield, spilling the 185 barrels of water on rangeland and into Ash Coulee Creek.

That creek is the site of what’s been called one of the largest reported oil spills in state history.

In December, 2016, an oil pipeline leak spilled 12,615 barrels of oil, or about 530,000 gallons, into Ash Coulee Creek and onto a hillside. The site of that spill is 16 miles northwest of Belfield.

The produced water spill was reported Saturday.

"We've taken samples of the creek, and if anything did get into the creek, it has flushed through," said North Dakota Health Department spill investigation program manager Bill Suess. "We're not seeing too much impact to the creek itself."

Suess says the saltwater could be toxic to aquatic life.

"At this time of year, most of the fish and invertebrates have either left the area, or gone into hibernation," Suess said. "We shouldn't see too much damage to wildlife."

Suess said the state Health Department will continue to monitor the creek and rangeland.

As for that 2016 oil spill?

"The creek itself is cleaned up," Suess said. "The hillside where the break occurred is still being treated."

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