HASKINS — NEXUS Gas Transmission/Enbridge is being charged by the Ohio EPA for the cleanup of a 20,000-gallon drilling fluid leak that went into a Maumee River tributary on July 16.
The NEXUS Gas Transmission description, in an email from spokesperson Adam Parker, stated “On July 16, 2018, Nexus construction crews experienced an inadvertent surface return of bentonite clay and water during the installation of the pipeline near Findlay Rd.”
The leak affected approximately three-quarters of a mile of Liberty Hi Ditch.
“Not acting on requests from Ohio EPA to continue cleanup throughout the night, NEXUS contractors left the site on the evening of July 17, which required the agency to hire environmental contractors to continue cleanup efforts overnight,” stated James Lee, Ohio EPA media relations manager, by email.
Completing Parker’s stated response to Sentinel-Tribune inquiries, “The project promptly notified the appropriate agencies, installed multiple layers of containment and quickly worked to complete the recovery of clay and water in accordance with plans previously approved by state and federal environmental agencies. The Ohio EPA has determined that recovery efforts are complete and no further action is required.”
The Ohio EPA Division of Environmental Response, Investigation and Enforcement Notice of Violation noted initial actions taken by NEXUS including: installation of containment dams and silt fence dams. The Ohio EPA installed downstream containment where the ditch meets the Maumee River.
NEXUS used vacuum trucks in efforts to follow recommendations from the Ohio EPA notice to “stop further migration of the bentonite mud.”
The Ohio EPA notice states that NEXUS has “responsibility for one or more violations of the following: Water Pollution and Water Quality Standards,” which could result in up to $10,000 per day of violation as well as possible action by the attorney general.
In addition to potential fees and legal action, Lee noted in the email that the Ohio EPA “will bill NEXUS for the cost of the agency’s environmental response staff hours, state contractor and materials.
“Bentonite and water are used as a lubricant and sometimes under pressure the water finds cracks or fissures in the earth,” Lee said.
“That’s what I was worried about the most. It’s when they are pulling the pipeline through the soft glacial till,” Geophysicist Robert Vincent said. “Any escaping fluids are going to go along the path of least resistance to relieve pressure. One of the things that can cause this is liquid escape along the Bowling Green fault. So I question if the aquifer is in danger.”
The Bowling Green water system was safe from the leakage because it was downstream from the plant. However, many local authorities did not know it was happening.
Of the Ohio EPA initial manned response, Wood County Emergency Management Agency Director Brad Gilbert said, “We had one of our staff meet him out there and we notified the (Bowling Green) water treatment plant, because at the time we didn’t know what the situation was.”
By email and phone, Bowling Green City Councilman Daniel Gordon pointed out that he was not made aware of the potential situation with the Bowling Green water supply.
“NEXUS failed to notify local residents of the spill and failed to comply with EPA directives to clean up the site — again demonstrating contempt for pubic health and safety, the law, business ethics and the public trust,” said Gordon.
Summing up the official NEXUS response, “NEXUS is committed to safe and environmentally responsible practices, including constructing the project in accordance with applicable environmental permitting requirements.”