Ohio Energy Company Wins Defamation Lawsuit

An Ohio energy company that manufacturers a road deicer and dust suppressant processed from brine water produced from oil and gas wells recently settled a lawsuit after the court issued a ruling against two individuals who had made false and defamatory statements about the product.

Duck Creek Energy, based in Brecksville, Ohio, created AquaSalina™ in 2003 and received approval for its use as a deicer and dust suppressant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources in 2004. The liquid deicer and dust suppressant, AquaSalina™ is natural seawater that is a byproduct of oil and gas well production processed to clean water standards except for the salt content into a new commodity and is used by snow removal contractors and municipalities in Ohio. Applying AquaSalina™ to rock salt reduces salt used and chloride run off into our lakes and streams.

In early 2012, Duck Creek brought the defamation suit against Tish O’Dell and Michelle Aini, who are also members of a group that oppose oil and gas drilling, because they described AquaSalina™ as frac water and frac waste. The case was settled in September 2013 with the defendants agreeing to an injunction preventing them from further defaming Duck Creek Energy and also paying the company damages. The defendants are prohibited from referring to AquaSalina™ as fracwater, fracking waste, frack waste, fracking fluid, fracking by-product, toxic, carcinogenic, cancer causing, poisonous or radioactive or any synonym thereof.

“I felt it was crucial to stand up for the oil and gas industry and hold these individuals accountable for making defamatory statements about our product,” said David I. Mansbery, president of Duck Creek. “The defendant’s malicious statement that AquaSalina™ is “frac water” was completely untrue and in fact the product they defamed is environmentally-friendly and use of the product actually gives benefits to the environment rather than harming it by reducing the rock salt and chlorides applied to roadways by up to 40 percent. The very environment some individuals claim to protect is harmed by their misguided actions.”

“This was a great victory for the oil and gas industry,” said Rhonda Reda, executive director of the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP). “We are thrilled to have the courts penalize individuals who spread false and malicious information about the industry and hope this will encourage people to do their research and educate themselves on the facts about the oil and gas industry.”

"It is refreshing to see a company fight back against defamatory remarks regarding the industry,” adds Shawn Bennett, director of Energy in Depth Ohio. “Duck Creek Energy should be praised for their work in minimizing the use of injection wells instead of being vilified by misinformed oil and gas activists."

Reda said the public should take note of the positive work being done by Duck Creek Energy. “Dave’s company has found a new use for brine water that diverts it from being placed into injection wells and repurposes it to safely use as a deicer or dust suppressant on city streets and roads,” Reda said. “Plus every gallon of AquaSalina™ used replaces a gallon of fresh water that municipalities and others use to make their own brine from rock salt.”

Last month, corrosion inhibited AquaSalina+™, was added as an approved product by the Pacific Northwest Snowfighters Association (PNS), a nationally recognized leader in establishing and standardizing chemical products for snow and ice control. The organization certifies chemicals for the Clear Roads Organization comprised of 26 Departments of Transportation across the country which require PNS certification of liquid de-icing and dust suppressant chemicals.

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