Late Night Explosion At Salt Water Disposal North of Alexander
February 22, 2023 | View PDF
According to a press release sent out by the McKenzie County Sheriff’s Office, there was an explosion and fire at the Elk Salt Water Disposal on Feb. 10 at 10:26 p.m.
The disposal is located north of Alexander near the intersection of Hwy 85 and 35th St. NW. Elk Disposal is a place where truckers hauling production water, an ongoing byproduct of oil field activity, can dump their load in an ecologically safe manner.
A driver for a local water hauling company was at the disposal, unloading his truck when the explosion occurred. It was reported in the incident report that he was doing it improperly and that caused the fire.
The Alexander Quick Response Unit was sent out. The driver suffered severe burns and was life-flighted to a medical facility where they could receive care. McKenzie County Emergency Manager Karolin Jappe said, “We don’t usually put out disposal fires because of the risk of environmental contamination, but we had to because Hwy 85 was so close.” According to Jappe, a lot of fire retardant foam is needed to put out disposal fires because of the risk of re-ignition. Alexander has a foam trailer containing two totes of foam to aid the fire trucks in these situations, however, Williston Fire Department Battalion Chief Clint Bates was one of the paramedics that responded to the fire. He spoke with Alexander Fire Chief Lance Powell, who was already on scene and suggested requesting that Williston Fire and Rescue respond with their “boom truck”, a fire truck with a large capacity foam tank and elevated waterway which could get the foam and water further into the fire than traditional fire trucks.
Together, the Alexander and Williston Fire Departments fought the fire and it was out by 2:30 a.m. Jappe said, “It was nice to see a fire that could have taken 8 to 12 hours to extinguish be put out in four.” Williston Fire Department Chief of Operations Corey Johnson said, “The WFD administration believes strongly in the team approach to public safety and the sharing of resources for the effective mitigation of incidents.” As of Feb. 13, the incident is still under investigation.