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Ohio Utica Shale

Gulfport Energy, Harch Environmental Resources settle with ODNR

By Bob Downing Published: September 11, 2013

Gulfport Energy Corp. will pay a $250,000 fine, after the Ohio Department of Natural Resources discovered leaking brine and other fluids at seven drilling pads in eastern Ohio.

The Oklahoma-based company must remove the contaminated soils and rebuild the pads at three sites in Belmont County and four pads in Harrison County.

State spokesman Mark Bruce said one of the agency’s inspectors last spring found contamination at a Harrison County well, which prompted a more thorough investigation.

The company reported that it had a brine contamination problem on May 31, and that led to the state investigation.

The state found that brine and other drilling fluids were escaping under the containment liners on the Gulfport pads, records show.

Bruce said there were two problems: the spills and ripped liners that allowed the fluids to escape.

He said Gulfport tested several local water wells but found no contamination. There also was no pollution of surface waters.

The state’s Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management must approve the remediation before Gulfport may resume operations at the seven pads.

Failure to comply with the provisions in the eight-page agreement could result in Ohio suspending Gulfport from drilling.

The sites were in Union and Somerset townships in Belmont County and Moorefield and Freeport townships in Harrison County.

In a separate case, the ODNR settled with a Belmont County company for illegal brine dumping.

Harch Environmental Resources Inc. of St. Clairsville will pay a $100,000 fine and will cease brine-hauling operations in Ohio for 30 days, according to the nine-page agreement.

The state imposed a series of conditions that Harch Environmental must meet to remain in business.

That includes records that the company must submit to ODNR to show it is properly handling such wastes.

The company was cited for dumping brine and other drilling wastes on a Belmont County farm last May.

Harch was hired by Gulfport Energy to dispose of its wastes.

On May 16, a state field inspector responded to Provident farms on Vineyards Road after receiving an anonymous tip through the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

The state inspector found standing water and what appeared to be oil-based mud that had been discharged directly onto the ground. A review of the site indicated trucks had backed up to the crest of a hill and released fluid down the hillside and into a private pond.

The state confirmed through laboratory testing that the soil and water samples collected from the area were high in chloride and sodium, identifying it as oil-field waste.

A cleanup was ordered by the state.

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Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management State agency Web site.

ODNR Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management. State drilling permits. List is updated weekly.

ODNR Division of Geological Survey.

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Ohio State University Extension.

Ohio Farm Bureau.

Ohio Oil and Gas Association, a Granville-based group that represents 1,500 Ohio energy-related companies.

Ohio Oil & Gas Energy Education Program.

Energy In Depth, a trade group.

Marcellus and Utica Shale Resource Center by Ohio law firm Bricker & Eckler.

Utica Shale, a compilation of Utica shale activities.

Landman Report Card, a site that looks at companies involved in gas and oil leases.FracFocus, a compilation of chemicals used in fracking individual wells as reported voluntarily by some drillers.

Chesapeake Energy Corp,the Oklahoma-based firm is the No. 1 driller in Ohio.

Rig Count Interactive Map by Baker Hughes, an energy services company.

Shale Sheet Fracking, a Youngstown Vindicator blog.

National Geographic's The Great Shale Rush.

The Ohio Environmental Council, a statewide eco-group based in Columbus.

Buckeye Forest Council.

Earthjustice, a national eco-group.

Stop Fracking Ohio.

People's Oil and Gas Collaborative-Ohio, a grass-roots group in Northeast Ohio.

Concerned Citizens of Medina County, a grass-roots group.

No Frack Ohio, a Columbus-based grass-roots group.

Fracking: Gas Drilling's Environmental Threat by ProPublica, an online journalism site.

Penn State Marcellus Center.

Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.

Allegheny Front, environmental public radio for Western Pennsylvania.