A brine-hauling company working in eastern Ohio has ceased operations in the wake of allegations of illegal dumping in Ohio’s Utica shale.
Harch Environmental Resources of St. Clairsville on Tuesday halted operations, following an order from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
The state agency said evidence was found that the company was illegally disposing of oil field waste at a Belmont County farm.
The state was also critical of Oklahoma-based Gulfport Energy Corp. that had contracted with Harch Environmental to dispose of the wastes.
The fact that the wastes were illegally dumped indicates that Gulfport Energy failed to meet its responsibility to monitor oil field waste from inception to injection, the state said.
The state agency is consulting with the Ohio Attorney General’s office regarding any civil or criminal penalties both against Harch Environmental and Gulfport Energy.
“ODNR will take all necessary steps to hold violators accountable,” said Director James Zehringer.
On May 16, a state field inspector responded to a farm on Vineyards Road after receiving an anonymous tip through the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
The ODNR 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’s Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management 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 for those results.
ODNR also ordered Harch Environmental:
• To cease all illegal dumping activity.
• To begin containment and remediation efforts on the property.
• To cease operations of its temporary storage facility.
Tuesday’s order also notified Harch Environmental that company officials must show cause as to why its registration certificate to haul brine should not be revoked. The company had 24 hours to request an informal hearing before Rick Simmers, the division chief. The company has filed that request, although the hearing has not yet been scheduled.
Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or email@example.com.