MORGAN COUNTY, Ohio -- Environmental advocates say spills from Ohio's oil and gas wells are becoming more common as drilling activity explodes in the Buckeye State.
Earlier this month, officials from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources investigated the leak of drilling mud at a Morgan County horizontal well. While thousands of barrels-worth of liquid spilled from the site, company officials were able to contain the leak before any harm was done to the surroundings.
But the Ohio Environmental Council says that three such spills had already been documented in 2014 -- one each in Wooster, Lima and southern Medina County. The Morgan County spill has not been included in the data yet. Jack Shaner, OEC deputy director, says that most Ohioans aren't aware of such spills -- or the 40 similar incidents that occurred in 2013.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency tracks and investigates such incidents, and says that large-scale spills like that in Morgan County are very rare. Although there have been at least 170 crude-oil spills in the past five years, there are nearly 70,000 active oil and gas wells in the state.
In response to the growing number of wells in the state, the ODNR is drafting new rules for well-pad construction and spill-containment structures for fracking-related wells. The agency has also increased its enforcement efforts in response to the growing number of wells. The agency has tripled the number of employees focused on oil and gas to 100, including 50 inspectors, since 2010.