Ohio AG May Enter Spill Dispute Between State EPA, Gas Company

Ohio EPA crews walk through a Stark County wetlands filled with drilling mud after a pipeline construction spill. [Ohio EPA]
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A dispute between the Ohio EPA and a Texas-based natural gas company over a spill might soon involve the state attorney general.

Last month the agency fined Energy Transfer Partners almost $1 million. On Monday, the director of the Ohio EPA said he had referred the gas company’s violations to Ohio attorney general Mike DeWine to enforce the fine. The company spilled at least 2 million gallons of drilling mud in Stark County this past spring while working on the Rover pipeline.

The Ohio EPA says there are trace amounts of diesel fuel in the mud, which could harm wildlife in the Tuscarawas River.  So far, the spill has not affected drinking water.

On Friday, the Ohio EPA sent the company an order to submit a plan for sampling water supplies that could be affected by the spill.

Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler said Monday his agency sent the order because the company has refused to cooperate fully. Butler said the company argues that Ohio has no jurisdiction because the pipeline was federally-approved.

“We just have a profound disappointment that Energy Transfer has taken the position they have," Butler said, "to think they can march across Ohio and cause some unprecedented environmental impact and think they can’t be held accountable for that.”

In a written statement, the company says it’s working to comply with the Ohio EPA’s order.

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