Saturday, April 4, 2015
By Ed Runyan
Workers from Kleese Development were back at two ponds and the Little Yankee Run wetlands on Sodom Hutchings Road on Friday for a second day, cleaning up an estimated 2,000 gallons or more of “light waste oil” from Kleese’s oilfield-services company nearby.
The company issued a statement late Friday saying the company was halting all operations at the Sodom Hutchings location, including brine injection “for the immediate future out of an abundance of caution.”
Kleese and the spill are just north of Warren-Sharon Road.
The oil came from a “buried drain pipe” associated with the Kleese site, but EPA officials still are studying the pipe to determine its origin, said Linda Oros, Ohio EPA spokeswoman.
So far, there has been no indication the oil came from the holding tanks used in association with the Kleese injection facilities, Oros said.
Two wetlands and a private pond were “severely impacted,” Oros said. Oil waste traveled 3,000 feet down a tributary stream of Little Yankee Run, but the leading edge of the oil has been contained, she said.
When The Vindicator viewed the site Friday morning, it appeared that the oil had gotten into two ponds on the east side of Sodom Hutchings Road, but a third pond did not appear to have any oil on it.
A resident living next to one of the two affected ponds, which are just north of the Kleese site, said he called the EPA on Monday after seeing a dead muskrat by the pond and a sheen on the water.
State officials came to the scene Thursday, and the cleanup began Thursday night, he said. In addition to the muskrat, the man and his neighbor have discovered many dead fish, some dead frogs and a dead turtle, he said.
Oros, however, said the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife reported that there was “minimal impact to wildlife.”
Kleese, also known as KDA, brought in a private contractor, as well as “in-house personnel and equipment” to contain and clean up the spill, Oros said.
A cleanup plan was being developed Friday morning, and the full impact of the spill was still being determined, she said.
The homeowner who called authorities said he contacted the Ohio EPA in Columbus a couple of times early in the week but was told the ODNR would be the agency to respond.
Oros said the Ohio EPA responded to the site Thursday after a representative of the ODNR Division of Oil and Gas notified them of the spill.
The resident said the lake was stocked with bluegill and bass, but it appears the only fish that survived are a few large koi.
The cleanup was focused on the pond beside the resident’s house Thursday. But sometime overnight, the cleanup moved to a pond farther back from the road, he said.
The Vindicator observed workers at the second pond Friday morning using a vacuum truck to pull the oil from the pond, and a Bobcat mini-excavator was being used to move soil from the bank.
A company statement late Friday said Kleese Development Associates is a “family owned and operated oil and gas company” for which “the well-being of our team and the environment remains our top priority.”
The company also has launched “an internal review of KDA protocols to ensure that we have the right processes in place to promote environmental stewardship.”