ST. CLAIRSVILLE, Ohio (AP) - Ohio officials say a company has been caught illegally dumping brine waste from the shale drilling process in Belmont County.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources says it's consulting the Attorney General's Office for possible charges against Harch Environmental Resources of St. Clairsville. The state said the company illegally disposed of brine and other oil field waste at a nearby farm.
â€śWe will pursue and punish any company that chooses to violate or ignore ODNRâ€™s core mission to protect Ohioans and the environment,â€ť said ODNR Director James Zehringer. â€śOhioâ€™s laws provide some of the most comprehensive safeguards to public health in the country, and when those regulations are broken, ODNR will take all necessary steps to hold violators accountable.â€ť
On May 16, an ODNR inspector found standing water "and what appeared to be oil-based mud that had been discharged directly onto the ground." The ODNR Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management (DOGRM) confirmed through laboratory testing that the soil and water samples collected from the area were high in chloride and sodium, identifying it as oil-field waste. The OEPA also investigated the site for possible contamination to waters of the state and is waiting on those results. At the onset of this investigation, ODNR immediately ordered:
- Harch to cease all illegal dumping activity;
- Harch to begin containment and remediation efforts on the property;
- Harch to cease operations of their temporary storage facility.
An attorney for the company said it has requested a hearing with the state agency and doesn't think it should be banned from operating in the state.
It's the second time the state has accused a company of illegal wastewater dumping in eastern Ohio.