Acid spill sends 20,000 gallons into Kingfisher Co. soil near creek
A fracking job goes terribly wrong northwest of the Metro. An entire tank of acid spilled on Sunday, contaminating about 1,600 yards of dirt on an alfalfa hay farmer's land north of Kingfisher. Friday is the first day clean-up crews have been able to fully access the site because of this week's rain.
The tank contained around 480 barrels, or 20,000 gallons, of incredibly dangerous and highly corrosive hydrochloric acid.
To put that in context, that amount would fill 500 bathtubs or more than 300,000 water glasses.
"It's either close to or is the largest spill of this type that we've had to deal with," said Corporation Commission spokesperson Matt Skinner.
The Corporation Commission regulates oil and gas production in the state and is overseeing the clean-up. The acid was stored for a fracking project supposed to kick off there the next day.
"Now the soil is being neutralized," Skinner said. Crews are doing that by adding soda ash, a base, to eventually make the soil safe to handle.
The frack site is operated by Blake Production Co. out of Oklahoma City but owner Blake Vernon said the spill is not his company's fault.
"We rent those tanks from a vendor and we're not exactly sure, we think their gasket leaked," he said during a phone call Friday.
Despite the mess, the Corporation Commission says it could have been much worse.
"Were very fortunate that we don't have any water wells in the area," Skinner said.
At first remediation crews were worried about water runoff from the rain coming into contact with the contaminated soil and running into a creek next to the spill site. They bermed or put barriers around it to make sure the acid did not run off with the rain
"It did not get into the water," Skinner said, "we have soil samples taken by the environmental company and sent immediately to us for review."
Friday the Hawk family looked on as clean-up crews worked on their land. They did not want to participate in an interview but their attorney issued the following statement:
The Hawks are very concerned about the acid spill that occurred on their property. The spill occurred in the center of my clients alfalfa field and while the property is currently used for agricultural purposes the Hawks hoped to build a home on their Turkey Creek property. Unfortunately the spill will not only affect the Hawks immediate use and enjoyment, but future development may be impossible. This does not even begin to address the effects on the ground water, run off, wild life and the recent 2" of rain will only exacerbate the damage. It is our understanding that the acid spill, consisting of approximately 19,000 gallons, occurred while Blake Production Company Inc. (Blake) was completing the well. At this point Blake has suggested a soil remediation company, but the company has not contacted my clients or my office, nor has Blake even approached the Hawks concerning the damages to their property. The Hawks hope Blake will remedy the situation, but their dealings with Blake in the past have not left them optimistic.
Blake Vernon says he has reached out to homeowners and is keeping them in the know regarding the clean-up process.
And the Corporation Commission says this case will only close with one result.
"You have to bring the area back to what it was before the incident occurred," Skinner said.
To the Hawks, it's just a question of how long that might take.
The Corporation Commission's oil and gas division has cited Blake Production Co for "failure to prevent pollution." That could land the company a large fine in addition to clean up costs.
But Blake Vernon says he plans to settle who's responsible for the clean-up in court.
FOX 25 reached out to the vendor in question. An attorney for the company said that company "does not own the tank in question" and says no one from the company can say anything more because of the possibility of future litigation.