NEXUS Pipeline drilling fluid spills into Wood County creek

Published: Jul. 27, 2018 at 11:04 PM EDT
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People living near the NEXUS Pipeline project in Wood County are unhappy. They say they were not notified about 20,000 gallons of drilling fluid that ended up in a waterway connected to the Maumee River.

The drilling accident started a cleanup effort that the Ohio EPA was not happy with. Neither were neighbors that were left in the dark.

The incident happened near Findlay Road. That's State Route 64, just north of Haskins in Middleton Township. That's where crews are installing the natural gas pipeline under a small stream that feeds into the Maumee River.

The Luce family has watched the NEXUS Pipeline installation happening in a farm field right next to their home. they're not thrilled with it.

"The dust has been horrible. I've washed my vehicle several times. I've had to power wash my garage and my house."

"It's one of those deals where you can't do anything about it so you just roll with it."

Rolling with a project that's now had a spill into our waterways. According to a report filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), after the production pipeline was completed, during something called pipe pullback,

"… an inadvertent return to the surface of drilling fluid occurred into an unnamed tributary of the Maumee River. "

According to NEXUS the substance spilled into the waterway was water and bentonite. Bentonite, according to a NEXUS spokesperson, is a naturally occurring clay that's non toxic and used during horizontal directional drills to reduce friction during installation.

"The report to the federal government mentions the dry conditions we've had recently and the low flow in the stream. It's believed that hopefully the contaminants didn't get too far."

According to the federal report, cleanup measures included:

"A series of containment structures consisting of sand bag dams, silt fence, straw bales and filter fence were installed."

This is all far more information than these neighbors ever received.

"It was pretty rude that no one let us know that hey this is going on right next to you."

"I believe the pipeline should have notified us or a possible spill and what their mitigation measures to control the spill would have been."

NEXUS did notify the Ohio EPA about the spill on July 17th that affected about three-quarters of a mile of the stream. According to an EPA spokesman, the agency told NEXUS to continue cleanup throughout the night.

The Ohio EPA says NEXUS did not and it left the site. So the EPA called in different contractors to do the work over night. EPA will be issuing a notice of violation and will bill nexus the cost of the cleanup.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources was also called in. According to a spokesman there, the spill did not have any impact on aquatic life.