A pair of lightning strike-caused fires within two weeks at saltwater disposal facilities in North Dakota has renewed calls for standardization of lightning protection devices and their installation.
Lightning was said to have caused a fire at a SWD facility near Keene, ND, on June 14, according to news reports. The fire at the Bullrock SWD facility was extinguished by firefighters using foam. The company later posted notice that the facility was restarted and resumed operations the next day.
On June 3, a lightning strike caused a fire at a SWD facility northeast of Alexander, ND, and resulted in the release of 3,400 bbl of produced water. The facility, including five 500-bbl water tanks, reported to be operated by Hydro Clear, was said to have been destroyed. Earlier in the year, a SWD facility suffered extensive damage in an explosion and fire.
That incident in January involved an explosion and fire at a SWD facility in Watford City, ND, operated by White Owl Energy Services. The explosion damaged several nearby buildings and smoldered for several days. An investigation into the cause of the incident has not been released although a lightning strike was ruled out.
According to Underwriters Laboratory, lightning strikes account for more than $1 billion in annual structural damage to buildings in the U.S. Mike Kuefler, owner of Kuefler Lightning Protection, St. Ignatius, MT, said that although a lightning protection system cannot prevent a strike, it will provide a safe path on which the electrical current can be safely directed to the ground.