The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s Division of Emergency and Remedial Response was dispatched to County Home Road about a week ago to help clean up a 15,000-gallon spill of nonhazardous lubricant used for pipeline construction.
The incident occurred Oct. 24, according to OEPA documents.
Chris Abbruzzese, deputy director of communications for the agency, said Friday it was likely that a construction crew drilling holes for the placement of gathering pipelines, which collect oil and gas from nearby horizontal wells, experienced an “inadvertent return” of bentonite slurry — a mixture of water and clay.
Pipeline crews sometimes use the slurry to help lubricate tools for microtunneling underground, Abbruzzese said. He added that the mixture did not pose a threat, and the company — Access Midstream — was quick to call state regulators for help in cleaning up the mess.
It was unclear how the spill occurred, but Abbruzzese said crews sometimes hit weak portions of earth that can’t hold the mixture, forcing it to spill outside its containment area.
Neither public-safety officials nor the Lisbon mayor’s office had any idea that a cleanup was underway, but Abbruzzese said it wasn’t necessary to notify them because the material was nonhazardous.
That still concerned Caitlin Johnson, a regional organizer with the Ohio Organizing Collaborative, which generally is opposed to oil and gas drilling in the state.
She acknowledged that the substance was not harmful but wondered about other incidents that could be on the horizon given the number of pipeline projects planned or underway in Columbiana County.
The slurry made its way into nearby Cold Run Creek, but it since has been contained, according to the OEPA.