By Karl Henkel
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has admitted a “poor choice of words” in a January media statement regarding Warren-based Patriot Water Treatment LLC.
In that statement, OEPA spokesman Chris Abbruzzese said the entity drafted a water-quality permit for the city of Warren based on a “science-based study conducted in the Mahoning River from December 2010 until September 2011.”
The problem, however, is that according to emails, a study may not have happened.
“There was no study, such as a special-stream survey, etc., that we did in support of the renewal,” Gary Stuhl-fauth of OEPA said in a Jan. 23 email to six employees.
At least three other emails indicate agency employees had no knowledge of the study, which was used to draft a strict water-quality-standard permit on Warren.
Abbruzzese, in an email to The Vindicator, said OEPA used pre-treatment data from 2006-10, effluent data from 2006-11 and toxicity results from 2010-11 to determine the proper permit requirements for Warren.
He said OEPA analyzed data from Pennsylvania and in the Mahoning River and reviewed regression models before issuing the draft permit.
The draft quality standards, if enacted, would be the toughest in Ohio and likely would spell the end to Patriot, which treats wastewater from fracking, and likely cost other businesses, such as General Motors Lordstown and RG Steel to spend millions on in-house water pre-treatment processes.
This isn’t the first time OEPA emails have surfaced.
The Vindicator in January published excerpts from an email that showed OEPA and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources agreed to permit Patriot’s operations.
The two agencies now say that permit was illegally issued, despite approval.
In fact, Andrew Blocksom, president of Patriot, has requested a steady stream of documents from OEPA and ODNR, so it should not have been a surprise that he’d request more emails.
Blocksom said if OEPA imposes its new, stricter permit, which he believes should be null and void because there is no data to substantiate the increased regulations, it will cause further headaches for his company.
Patriot and OEPA already are involved in multiple legal cases pertaining to permits and regulations.