Huge India Oil Well Fire Extinguished after 5 Months

A massive oil well fire that has raged in northeast India for more than five months has finally been extinguished, officials said Sunday.

Since an explosion in June, weeks after the well blew out and started discharging huge quantities of raw gas, Oil India engineers have battled the blaze in Assam state, reports AFP.

In the explosion, which sent a wall of flame and massive plumes of smoke into the sky, two employees of the state-owned company died. A third worker died after an accident at the site in September.

Experts from Singapore, the United States and Canada joined efforts to contain the inferno, and Oil India spokesman Tridiv Hazarika said Sunday the fire had now been “doused completely”.

“The well has been killed with brine solution and is under control now,” he told AFP, adding that the well had yet to be capped.

“There is no pressure in the well now and it will be observed for 24 hours to check if there is any amount of gas migration and pressure build-up,” Hazarika said.

Thousands of villagers in Tinsukia district had been relocated to relief camps after the blaze started.

A farmer who lived beside the site said his home was damaged by the fire and hoped his losses would be compensated fully.

“Even if the fire is doused, we cannot possibly go and live in that house anymore — we lost not just our cows, goats, fields, crops, but our mental and physical peace too,” Akheshwar Chetia told The Indian Express newspaper.

Next to Dibru-Saikhowa National Park and the wetland habitat of many endangered species, including tigers and elephants, lies the Baghjan oil field.

The place is close to many bird sanctuaries as well.
In a July report, the Wildlife Institute of India said that the oil spill had had a 'large-scale impact on local plant and animal life.

“The toxins released are known to have long-term persistence in soils and sediments, which will not only affect current life conditions, but due to sustained release over a long period, pose a serious health risk for a longer term,” the institute added.

The disaster has cost Oil India more than $30.5 million as of late September, according to the firm’s quarterly financial results released last week.

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