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Vandalism may have caused oil spill in Williams County

An oil spill in Williams County is suspected to have been caused by vandalism, the North Dakota Department of Health reported Monday.

The spill was first noticed on Friday at a Murex Petroleum-operated well site, roughly 2.5 miles northwest of Tioga, North Dakota.

Bill Suess, the Department of Health spill investigation program manager, told the Forum News Service that on two tanks which contained oil, seals had been broken in a manner that indicated the damage was intentional. The resulting spill released approximately 300 barrels of oil.

The released oil impacted a 25-by-25-foot area on a road right-of-way adjacent to the well pad. Suess said that as of Monday afternoon, 60 barrels of the spilled oil had been recovered by pumping the material up from the affected area and by removing vegetation and topsoil. Additional excavation will be necessary, however.

The Department of Health hasn’t found evidence of impacted water, though the investigation is ongoing. Personnel from the Department of Health and the Department of Mineral Resources’ Oil and Gas Division were at the site of the spill and will be overseeing the cleanup operations. The Williams County Sheriff’s Office is also conducting its own investigation.

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