March 10, 2015

Tervita’s treatment plant goes up in flames

By Amy Robinson
Farmer Staff Writer

On Saturday, March 7, in the early morning hours, a call came in to State Radio reporting a fire at the CCS Midstream Treatment Plant #1 located on a Tervita-owned oilfield waste disposal site, near Alexander.
The Alexander Fire Department, the Williston Rural Fire Department, McKenzie County Sheriff’s deputies, McKenzie County Emergency Services, and emergency response crews responded to the fire.
“I was called out probably right after the deputies arrived on the scene,” said Karolin Rockvoy, McKenzie County Emergency Services manager. “That was probably about 3:50 a.m. And when I got to the scene, the fire was going pretty good and it only got more wild as time went on. But Fire Chief Lance Powell decided to keep everyone back and not try to even fight the fire because it was so big.”
According to Rockvoy, the flames were so high and the fire so hot that the fire departments on scene didn’t have near the assets to fight that kind of fire. Each fire department is equipped with enough foam to maybe fight one structural fire. In her opinion, the fire departments were not equipped with as much foam as they needed to put that fire out.
In addition to keeping everyone away from the fire, county officials decided to close County Road 16 temporarily for the safety of the public and nearby residents. It was later reopened.
“We weren’t sure what kind of hazardous materials we were dealing with,” said Rockvoy, “since this was an oilfield waste disposal fire.”
It is unknown at this time how much structural damage there was on site, but it was reported that 2,000 barrels of oil were released and an additional 1,200 barrels of ‘other’ fluids were released. Of that, 100 barrels of oil were recovered and 1,000 barrels of ‘other’ fluids were recovered.
According to Rockvoy, there was a driver unloading at the time of the fire, and as soon as the fire started, the driver left the scene for his safety and then went to talk with law enforcement officers. No injuries were or have been reported from this incident.
According to the incident report, a majority of the released fluids was contained in a concrete area of the tank farm, and the overflow was contained in the HDPE-lined site collection basin. All free-standing liquids were contained in the lined basin or concrete containment.
“At first, there were probably about five young guys from Tervita that were on-site when I responded and then a supervisor, Michael McKay, from Tervita came out a little bit later,” said Rockvoy. “When I was getting ready to leave, I let Michael know that he needed to call someone in, and I’m assuming that when I left, their on-site safety people had shown up.”
The State Duty Officer was notified and the incident was reported to the North Dakota Industrial Commission, as well as the North Dakota Department of Health. Further investigation is underway to figure out the cause of the fire.