FINAL WRAP UP: Emergency Ends Safely

The fire at a WPX oil production facility in San Juan County, NM, is out. Security is in place at the site to maintain safety and to allow the investigation and cleanup to begin next.

At its height, the blaze engulfed 36 temporary storage tanks holding oil and produced water from six new wells. No drilling or completions work was occurring at the site when the fire started.

It gradually dwindled during the week before firefighters safely extinguished the residual fire at a handful of tanks on Thursday afternoon without incident.

Firefighting materials used to conclude the event were contained on site. Throughout the duration of the event, the fire and the products in the tanks were contained on the five-acre WPX site.

Displaced families were briefed on the progress Thursday evening in a joint meeting with officials from San Juan County, the Environmental Protection Agency, Navajo government and WPX.

Based on air quality results from the EPA and the lifting of evacuation orders by fire officials, it is now safe for residents to return home. WPX will continue to remain engaged with affected families to address concerns and discuss ways to further emergency preparedness.

“We value our neighbors and regret the difficulties they experienced this week,” said Randy VanDenBerg, WPX district operations manager. “This was not easy for anyone, especially for people who had to leave their homes. Their patience and cooperation was vital to achieving a safe outcome.”

A full investigation to determine the cause of the event may take weeks to complete. WPX will use the findings to help prevent the potential for future incidents.

Insurance adjustors are scheduled to begin documenting damage at the site this weekend. All operations at the site will remain shut-in for the foreseeable future. WPX’s other operations in the San Juan Basin are not affected by the outage.

More than a dozen emergency response and regulatory agencies provided critical leadership and support, including the San Juan County Fire Department, the Farmington Fire Department Hazardous Materials Team, the Bureau of Land Management, the New Mexico Oil Conservation Division, EPA Regions 6 and 9, and San Juan Emergency Response.

“Everyone is focused on the common good,” VanDenBerg added. “From the onset, this was about protecting public safety and caring for the community. The amount of resources and support was remarkable.”

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