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Produced water spills in Badlands ravine after driver jumps from plunging truck

WATFORD CITY, N.D. - A truck accident in McKenzie County caused about 100 barrels, or 4,200 gallons, of produced water to spill in a ravine in the Badlands, the North Dakota Department of Health said Friday.

The incident occurred Wednesday, March 20, about 18 miles southeast of Watford City on land managed by the U.S. Forest Service.

The accident, involving a truck owned and operated by Elite Oil Field Services, stemmed from a mechanical failure, said Bill Suess, spill investigation program manager for the health department.

The driver was headed uphill in an area with rugged terrain when he heard something snap and the brakes stopped working, said Karolin Jappe, McKenzie County emergency manager.

The driver jumped out of the truck before it went over a steep embankment, she said.

“The tanker was literally split, almost in half,” Jappe said. “The young man was pretty lucky."

Produced water, a waste byproduct of oil and gas production, spilled from the tanker and contaminated a ravine. Personnel from the health department and the Forest Service have inspected the site and will monitor the investigation and remediation, Suess said.