Cleanup Prep Continues At Alaska Well Blowout Site

Published February 20, 2012 2:45AM (EST)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska environmental regulators say cleanup preparations continue at the site of an exploratory well blowout on Alaska's North Slope.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation says crews Sunday began clearing ice and drilling fluid from the drill floor area.

A crew drilling on a lease held by Repsol E&P USA Inc. penetrated a pressurized pocket of natural gas at 2,523 feet Wednesday. The resulting kickback spewed out natural gas and an estimated 42,000 gallons of freshwater-based drilling fluid — also known as drilling mud — onto three acres.

Natural gas was diverted away from the drilling rig and crews shut down equipment to avoid igniting gas. DEC says the well stopped flowing Thursday night.

Officials say cleanup will begin after the well is under control.

By Salon Staff

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