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Wellhead cracks, gushes oil 100 feet at Wellington Flats

Fire fighters and Hazmat specialists converge at the Wellington Flats wellhead shortly after the gusher was shut off.

Sun Advocate associate editor

Pad contains spillage, no injuries

A cracked wellhead sent oil flying more than 100 feet into the air Saturday morning as crews from Whiting Oil worked to shut down production and begin cleanup at the Wellington site.

According to Carbon County Emergency Services and Homeland Security Director Jason Llewelyn, the spill, which occurred at the Wellington Flats site on Ridge Road at about 10:30 a.m., was handled competently by Whiting, with the help of nearby construction crews.

"Those on site immediately called in help from Scamp Excavation and Nielson Construction," he said. "They began bringing in fresh dirt to help soak up the leaking oil and were able to keep the material confined to their pad."

The gushing oil initially shut down traffic along Ridge Road for nearly an hour, with fire crews from Price, Helper and Wellington staying on-site through the early evening to ensure the safety of those working to replace the wellhead.

According to the security director, crews from Whiting had successfully replaced the head by 6 p.m., immediately shifting their focus to cleanup.

Llewelyn reported that no oil contaminated the surrounding area and that Environmental Protection Agency officials including Southeastern Utah District Engineer David Ariotti, had been on scene. The Carbon County HAZMAT Team was still on site into Saturday evening.

It is unknown just how much oil was lost. Llewelyn reported that total cleanup time was estimated at two weeks.

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