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Vienna residents awaiting answers on tested water

By Ed Runyan

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

By Ed Runyan


A resident living near the oil spill at the Kleese Development Associates brine injection facilities on Sodom Hutchings Road said she had not been notified as of late Tuesday on results of testing on her well water.

Two Ohio Department of Natural Resources officials contacted Tuesday afternoon did not respond to requests for information about the well testing.

Kurt Kollar, on-scene coordinator for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, told hundreds of people Monday night that he did not expect any trouble with residents’ water wells, and he expected the test results to support that.

Officials who had attended a large meeting at Mathews High School on Monday night had predicted the results would most likely come this morning instead of Tuesday night.

Kollar said more than 2,000 gallons of “light waste oil” leaked out of a buried storm drain at the Kleese site, but more investigation would be needed to determine why that happened or how it got in the drain.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management issued an order Friday telling the company, also known as KDA Inc., to stop accepting brine at the facility.

An email from Heidi Griesmer, deputy director of communication for the Ohio EPA, announced the shutdown at 6:15 p.m. Friday, saying the company had been “instructed to cease operations while the investigation is ongoing.”

A 4:40 p.m. Friday an email from Krissy Burrows, chief operating officer of KDA, however, said the company was “proactively and voluntarily stopping all related company operations for the immediate future out of an abundance of caution.”

She said that included any fluid hauling to the Sodom Hutchings site and any brine-injection activities there. KDA also has injection operations on U.S. Route 422 1 mile north of the state Route 5 outerbelt.

The ODNR order, signed by Richard J. Simmers, chief of the division, also ordered the company to remediate any contamination at its facilities “and any surrounding locations impacted by the oil contamination.” It said KDA “shall restore all locations to their previous condition.”

The order says Kleese operates five saltwater injection wells at the site. The wells received permission to operate in 2011, 2013 and 2014.

In Greismer’s Friday email and during Monday’s meeting at the high school, state officials sought to clarify the reasons why no state agency immediately responded to Vienna Township when a property owner living nearby raised questions about dead wildlife and an orange “sheen” that he observed on his pond.

Greismer’s email said a Sodom Hutchings Road resident’s report to the EPA March 30 was “inconclusive,” and he was given “signs to look for and call back if they appeared.”

The resident called back Wednesday evening to report an odor, “and within 24 hours Ohio EPA and ODNR responded in a coordinated effort,” Greismer said.

The resident who asked not to be identified, Greismer and Kollar all agree that the estimated 2,000 gallons could have leaked from the Kleese site months ago. The oil may have been “masked by winter weather and ice” on the affected ponds, Greismer’s email said.

When the Sodom Hutchings resident talked to the Ohio EPA, he said he had started to notice the orange scum on the pond as early as March 25 “as the ice melted,” according to an Initial Pollution Incident Report released this week by the Ohio EPA. Also observed were a dead muskrat and a lot of dead fish.