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Ohio Utica Shale

Monroe County to host Aug. 7 public meeting after well fire

By Bob Downing Published: August 5, 2014

From the Communities United for Responsible Energy:

On Thursday, August 7, The Communities United for Responsible Energy (CURE), The Ohio Organizing Collaborative and allies will host a community meeting where concerned residents can voice their concerns and receive information in lieu of the Monroe County fire. The meeting will be held at Hilltop Community Centerin Clarington, Ohio at 7pm and is free and open to the public.


On June 28, Gus Dennis was at home in Clarington when he got a call from his brother letting him know that there was a fire at the horizontal fracking well pad just 200 yards away. An hour later, the nearby Woodsfield Fire Department told Dennis and his seven-year-old son they had to leave.


That day, more than 25,000 gallons of diesel fuel, chemicals and toxic well flowback seeped into a tributary of the Ohio River in Monroe County when a well pad in Clarington caught fire. The flames engulfed 20 trucks and caused 30 explosions. Authorities evacuated 25 nearby homes.


Meanwhile, Dennis’s fiancé Kelley Stewart was at work at the local emergency room. She received updates about the crisis from Facebook and learned that she needed to find another place to say. They finally met up around 7pm and tried to find a hotel – to no avail.


“We did not have clothes, personal items, nothing,” Stewart said. “We were going to have to buy everything. We ended up home at 11:30 pm and were stopped at Short Ridge Road by a ricochet driver stating that ‘Statoil prefers you not to go home, but understands if you need to.’”


All concerned residents – especially those evacuated during the incident – are invited to share their stories and ask questions at a community meeting to be held a 7pm on August 7 at the Held at Hill Top Community Center in Clarington. The event is sponsored by Communities United for Responsible Energy (CURE) and will feature speakers from the Ohio Environmental Council, Buckeye Forest Council, Center for Health and Environmental Justice and Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services.


The fire resulted in the death of at least 70,000 fish over five miles. According to a recently released EPA report, officials from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) did not attend five out of eight “unified command” meetings where officials met to determine how to extinguish the fire. Moreover, the report indicates that ODNR waited two days to request chemical contents from the fracking company Haliburton. The information was not given to first responders until five days after the fire.


The day after the disaster, Stewart stopped by the site and requested information about the chemicals used in the drilling and fracking process. Stewart says she spoke to representatives from both the fracking contractor Haliburton and the well-owner Statoil, requesting the material safety data sheets (MSDS) for the site. While the company representatives were friendly and promptly called her back, Stewart said she never received the information requested. The drilling companies also set up an air monitor in Stewart’s yard – but she has yet to receive the results.


“More than a month after the fire, residents who lived nearby the well still don’t feel safe,” said CURE organizer Caitlin Johnson. “We’ve talked to people who still have questions about what they and their families have been exposed to. Some worry that they could still be exposed to dangerous materials. No one should feel this way in their own home.”


According to Teresa Mills of the Center for Health and Environmental Justice, there are still chemicals that have still not been identified and the federal government is trying to determine how to test for an unknown proprietary chemical. The latest EPA report shows there was no berm located on the well pad to contain any runoff until after the fire. Additionally, there were two 30,000 gallon propane tanks onsite that did not appear in the official chemical inventory obtained by Mills.


“It’s unthinkable that volunteer firefighters and community members were at risk and no one seemed to know how dangerous the situation was,” Mills said. “Citizens have the right to know what they are exposed to.”


The meeting is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.






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Utica and Marcellus shale web sites

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.

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