At approximately 10:15 pm on July 11, 2016, an explosion with subsequent fire occurred at the WPX well site located approximately 2 miles southwest of the town of Nageezi, NM. San Juan County Fire Department along with the Farmington FD immediately responded to the blaze. Due to the size, ferocity, and extreme heat from the fire, no fire suppression was attempted on Monday night or during the day on Tuesday. The well site includes 6 active oil wells which were recently installed and were in the process of being brought online. Thirty-six tanks, each approximately 500 gallons in size, holding a mix of crude oil, water and proprietary fracking chemicals, exploded and burned in the fire. The cause of the explosion and fire has not yet been determined.
EPA Region 6 deployed two OSCs and two START personnel to the site the afternoon of Tuesday July 12. EPA and START conducted a reconnaissance of the incident area and also conducted air monitoring downwind of the fire. At approximately 8 pm on Tuesday July 12, two downwind locations were selected for air monitoring by EPA. The first location was approximately ½ mile east of the incident area and the second was located approximately 1.5 miles east of the incident area. Air sampling parameters included: particulate matter, CO, O2, LEL, VOCs, and H2s. No adverse levels of any measured parameters were detected at either location. EPA also deployed the ASPECT aircraft and flew over the incident area. According to WPX, 9 families living within a ½ mile radius of the incident voluntarily evacuated and were being housed in a hotel in Bloomfield, NM. Please see the Region 6 OSC webpage for more information: www.epaosc.org/WPX-Nageezi-Fire.
Due to the evacuation of members of the Navajo Nation, Region 9 deployed an OSC to the site on Tuesday, July 12. EPA Region 6 and Region 9 OSCs maintained a unified, cooperative lead for the site until Thursday, July 14, when it was determined that Region 9 would be the lead. The site is in New Mexico, outside the of Navajo Reservation, but on Navajo allottee property and is therefore in Indian Country. The 1991 MOA between R6 and R9 states that R9 will be the lead region on Navajo allottee property.