GREAT FALLS – An oil spill occurred at an oil well operated by Anadarko Minerals Inc. near Lustre, which is located in the central region of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation.
According to a press release, the spill was reported to the Tribes’ Office of Environmental Protection (OEP) on Friday, April 27.
The spill was spotted by a rancher doing a flyover in the area. The exact date that the leak occurred has not yet been determined. The well had been shut-in in late December of 2017.
Wilfred Lambert of the Fort Peck Tribes OEP and officials from the federal Bureau of Land Management initially estimated that 600 barrels of oil and 90,000 barrels of production water, also known as brine, were released from the well.
The oil and brine flowed approximately 200 yards downhill to a stock pond used by tribal entities for watering livestock.
The press release states the extent of the stock pond’s contamination has not been determined. Early assessments indicate about three to six inches of oil sitting on top of the water.
A cleanup plan is being developed by Anadarko with oversight by Tribe officials, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, BLM, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Jestin Dupree, a Fort Peck Tribal Council member, posted on Facebook: "The oil is about 3-4 inches thick on top of the water. In order to get this pond cleaned up there are certain levels of contamination that are allowable but we are looking at the possibility of draining the pond for a proper clean up and the Tribal Chairman felt the same way. In some places in this pond the water is about 13 feet deep.
Floyd Azure, chairman of the Fort Peck Tribes, said this spill is a further indication of the detrimental effects oil production can have on the environment and is yet another threat to the Tribe’s water quality.
Cost and time estimates for the cleanup are unknown at this time.