Ohio environmental regulators will fine an international oil and gas company about $223,000 for a blowout and fire last summer at a Monroe County fracking well that contaminated a nearby stream, killed fish for miles and forced about 25 people from their houses.
StatOil North America, the company that operated the well, can resume fracking there after it pays the fines, which were announced on Tuesday.
As much as $75,000 could go to first responders in eastern Ohio to help them deal with future oil and gas emergencies.
The fines include about $41,000 for the roughly 70,000 fish that died after chemicals ran off the well pad and into a nearby creek, and about $132,000 for contaminating the water. The fire broke out on June 28, 2014. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources assessed the fines.Click here to read that whole article.
The Ohio EPA issued this release:
The State of Ohio has completed its extensive review of a well pad fire in Monroe County from June 2014, and is in the process of assessing penalties for the loss of aquatic species, spill cleanup and water quality violations. Both the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) and Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) conducted reviews of the incident at Statoil’s Eisenbarth well pad.
“Last year’s well pad fire in Monroe County was an unfortunate incident that negatively impacted habitat in the surrounding area while forcing nearby residents to leave their homes,” said Ohio EPA Director Craig W. Butler. “Thankfully, there were no injuries and we were able to learn from the incident and take significant steps to strengthen statewide response efforts.”
ODNR’s investigation concluded that 1) fluids left the well pad, which is a violation of state law; 2) the company failed to maintain operational control on the well pad; and 3) the company disposed of brine fluid in an unapproved method. It was confirmed the fluids from the well pad depleted oxygen levels in the stream, which negatively impacted aquatic life. Further, the fluids leaving the well pad violated several Ohio EPA water-quality standards designed to protect aquatic life.
“Ohio is demonstrating how state agencies can collaborate to solve problems as our oil and gas industry continues to grow,” said ODNR Director James Zehringer. ”We’ll continue working to improve our safety protocols to be as efficient and effective as possible when responding to future incidents.”
Since the incident, Ohio EPA and ODNR have implemented a number of policies to strengthen efforts to respond to oil and gas-related emergencies, including:
Both ODNR and Ohio EPA are pursuing civil penalties to address violations that occurred as a result of the incident. After the penalties have been assessed and collected, the State plans to provide as much as $75,000 to local first responders to aid in their efforts to respond to future incidents. Once Statoil fully complies with state penalties, it can work with ODNR toward restarting production at its Eisenbarth well pad.
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