Tom Stewart

August 14, 2013

Pipeline driller still polluting

Source: The Columbus Dispatch, August 12, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

A company that faces state sanctions and fines for pipeline-construction spills in eastern Ohio continues to foul streams and wetlands.

Scott Nally, director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, told Denver-based MarkWest Energy in a March 8 letter that the size and repeated nature of four spills dating to September were “unacceptable.”

As the EPA and the company negotiate penalties, agency reports show that MarkWest and its contractors have had 13 additional spills in Belmont, Harrison, Guernsey, Monroe and Noble counties, including a 1,200-gallon slurry spill that polluted a Monroe County wetland in July.

MarkWest attorney Chris Jones said the most-recent spills are smaller and less severe than those reported in 2012.

Much of MarkWest’s problem stems from drilling in areas that were once strip-mined for coal, Jones said. Soils and rocks there often are too loosely packed to contain the slurry.

“If there is any indication of a void in the ground, we stop drilling and address it,” said Jones, a former Ohio EPA director.

EPA spokesman Chris Abbruzzese said the agency continues to investigate the spills.

Teresa Mills, fracking coordinator for the Buckeye Forest Council, an environmental advocacy group, said the state should be tougher on the company.

“They should just totally make (MarkWest) stop until they figure out how to do it properly,” Mills said.…