COLUMBUS, OH – Today, in response to an order from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Harch Environmental Resources has ceased operations in the state after evidence was found that the company was illegally disposing of oil field waste in Ohio. Gulfport Energy Corporation contracted with Harch Environmental to dispose of the oil field waste that was illegally dumped, indicating that Gulfport Energy Corporation failed to meet its responsibility to monitor oil field waste from inception to injection. ODNR is consulting with the Ohio Attorney General’s office regarding any civil or criminal penalties both against Harch Environmental and Gulfport Energy.
“We will pursue and punish any company that chooses to violate or ignore ODNR’s core mission to protect Ohioans and the environment,” said ODNR Director James Zehringer. “Ohio’s laws provide some of the most comprehensive safeguards to public health in the country, and when those regulations are broken, ODNR will take all necessary steps to hold violators accountable.”
On May 16, an ODNR field inspector responded to a farm on Vineyards Road in St. Clairsville after receiving an anonymous tip through the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA). The 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 ODNR Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management (DOGRM) 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. The OEPA also investigated the site for possible contamination to waters of the state and is waiting on those results. At the onset of this investigation, ODNR immediately ordered:
Harch to cease all illegal dumping activity;
Harch to begin containment and remediation efforts on the property;
Harch to cease operations of their temporary storage facility.
The order issued today notified Harch Environmental that they must show cause as to why its registration certificate to haul brine should not be revoked. The company has 24 hours to request an informal hearing before the chief of DOGRM.