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.
Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or firstname.lastname@example.org.