Melanie Houston, Director, Climate Programs, April 21, 2017
The Rover Pipeline has been under construction in Ohio for less than a month, but it is already polluting Ohio’s waterways. The project was the source of two serious spills last week according to notices of violation filed by the Ohio EPA Division of Environmental Response, Investigation and Enforcement.
The first spill resulted in approximately 2 million gallons of drilling fluids damaging one of Ohio’s highest quality wetlands. The fluids covered a 500,000 square foot area of the wetland, located near the Tuscarawas River in Navarre, Ohio. For comparison, this spill covered an area of wetland approximately the size of eight and a half football fields.
The second spill involved about 50,000 gallons of drilling fluids which spilled into a wetland in Mifflin Township in Richland County. These drilling fluids covered an estimated 30,000 square feet, or enough to cover half a football field.
“Construction of this pipeline just fouled one of the state’s very best remaining wetlands (“Category 3”) with 2 million gallons of pollution,” stated Nathan Johnson, Director of Public Lands for the Ohio Environmental Council. “Very few wetlands of this quality remain in the state, and they cannot simply be replaced. Once a wetland this pristine and healthy is gone, it may be gone forever.”
“These spills demonstrate the inherent risks involved in constructing massive pipelines that run across the state,” said Melanie Houston, Director of Oil and Gas for the Ohio Environmental Council. “This pipeline can’t even be built without polluting wetlands and impacting water quality—imagine how bad things could get when it’s actually operating and carrying highly explosive material 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”
The Ohio Environmental Council is aware that the Ohio EPA is investigating this incident, and further calls on the agency to issue strict enforcement and to conduct a full review of directional drilling standards for the oil and gas industry.
“The agency must ensure that Ohio’s wetlands and streams will be protected from future incidents like these,” said Houston. “Crossing streams and wetlands should be avoided entirely until appropriate standards are in place, and our pristine wetlands are fully protected.”
The Ohio Environmental Council will be analyzing the extent of damage to the wetlands and the community and working with decision makers to ensure that Ohioans and our environment are protected.