Operator says containment worked at Coitsville well site
COITSVILLE — State agencies are saying there was no risk to people or the environment after a motorist reported seeing water overflowing Sunday at a well site in Coitsville.
The site operator also said systems worked as intended.
“Someone drove by, made up things and went to the news,” said a representative from Bobcat Energy Resources LLC. “There was no problem with the well.”
The well site, on U.S. Route 422, is where brine — or salt water — is pumped. The spokesman explained that a filter pump “ran too long.”
The concerned motorist also contacted the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
There was no immediate danger to the area, ODNR confirmed.
“Based on conversations with the caller, company and inspector, there was no sign of an external release at Bobcat Energy Resources LLC,” a statement from ODNR said.
Inspectors from the Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management followed up at the site Monday.
“The site experienced an electrical failure which led to brine being released into a closed on-site containment system. The system functioned as designed, and there is no risk to any person or the environment,” the ODNR statement explains.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency also stated that the site “worked properly,” and that the equipment “prevented a release into the environment.”
The agency further explained: “In the event of environmental emergencies, Ohio EPA has 24-hour emergency response staff who work with facility managers, local first responders, drinking water system managers and our state agency partners to contain releases and limit impacts to the environment.”
George Brown, fire chief for Coitsville, said that he originally received “several different stories” about what happened.
Brown wasn’t notified about an issue at the site until Sunday afternoon.
On Monday, he called ODNR. Brown said he learned one valve was broken and another malfunctioned, “but everything was contained.”
Brown met with an ODNR inspector Tuesday, where he saw that one valve malfunctioned and the second cracked.
“I’m comfortable that there was nothing to be concerned about,” he said, as far as brine getting into the environment.
The spokesman from Bobcat Energy said the liquid observed was not toxic.
Brown is waiting for a report from the ODNR inspection, and will be meeting with Bobcat Energy to discuss emergency operations plans, he added.
The structures store fluid left over from the fracking process.
Asked what kind of impact would occur on the nearby wetlands and ecosystem, the Bobcat Energy Resources spokesman responded: “It can’t happen. (The tanks) are designed so it can’t happen.”
Coitsville Township Trustee Phyllis Johnson said the site is being closely monitored for seismic activity after an earthquake shook the area on New Year’s Eve 2011. The land the well is on is owned by a private individual who signed a lease with the energy company, leaving the trustees without say on how the site is maintained, Johnson said.