A federal official says crews in Alaska are trying to shut down an oil well that is leaking explosive natural gas on the frozen North Slope. The Environmental Protection Agency says a crack in a BP wellhead near Deadhorse sent up mist of crude oil Friday before it froze over and an initial leak stopped.
BP spokesman Brett Clanton says that ”based on an overflight with infrared cameras, the release appears to be contained to the gravel pad surrounding the wellhead and has not reached the tundra.” Clanton says BP is focused on safely securing the well.
However, agency spokeswoman Suzanne Skadowski says a second crack was discovered that’s releasing flammable, explosive gas. It’s unclear how much has vented, but nearby workers have been evacuated and native Alaskan villages dozens of miles away have been notified.
No injuries have been reported. The agency says the initial oil release may have affected an area of about one-and-a-half acres. There were no reports of damage to wildlife. Skadowski says the EPA, state and BP hope to shut down the well Saturday.