Ohio EPA on Rover Wetlands Spill: ‘A Tragedy’

(Not an image of the Bethlehem Twp. wetlands)

BETHLEHEM TWP., Ohio (WHBC) – The Ohio EPA is calling the 1.5 to 2 million gallon spill of drilling mud into a Bethlehem Township wetland “a tragedy”.

This, as the agency and the parent company of the Rover pipeline agree on new requirements in the installation process.

The EPA saying the wetland area will probably not recover to its previous condition, even as cleanup continues.

The Ohio EPA describes the aftermath as a minimum-1-inch thick milkshake-texture substance covering a 500,000 square foot area.

Here is an April 29, 2017 statement from the Ohio EPA on the incident:

The 1.5 to 2 million gallon release of Bentonite drilling mud into the wetland in Stark County is a tragedy in that the affected wetland will likely not recover to its previous condition for decades. Had Rover more closely monitored their drilling equipment, and been better prepared for an immediate emergency response, this incident would likely not have occurred on the scale that we’re dealing with now. Efforts to clean up the bulk of the material from the wetland are ongoing.

Director (Craig) Butler has required Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) to not restart operations at the Stark County site until we could meet with appropriate high-level ETP officials and approve an operational and emergency response contingency plan necessary to manage possible future inadvertent return events and impacts. Ohio EPA, as well as Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) officials, met with ETP (Rover Pipeline) officials on Thursday, April 27, at Ohio EPA headquarters in Columbus.

Moving forward throughout the remainder of the project, Ohio EPA has directed Rover to accelerate cleanup of impacts, implement all other best management practices already approved, and improve operations by doing the following (among other things):

· Rover will establish a hotline for property owners and area residents to call if suspected Inadvertent Returns or other Rover environmental issues are spotted. (Ohio also EPA maintains its own 24/7 Agency Spill Hotline (800-282-9378.)

· Rover will maintain, on the site where drilling occurs, remedial equipment such as backup pumps, vacuum trucks, sandbags to ensure a quick response and prompt cleanup.

· If another inadvertent return occurs (no matter the size of the spill), Rover will notify Ohio EPA and impacted local property owners immediately.

· Hire a third party drilling expert to monitor daily activities and report to Ohio EPA directly.

Enforcement negotiations for all current violations are proceeding.

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