Harrison County [Ohio] Watching Stream, Spring Pollution
17 January 2013
By Casey Junkins - Staff Writer
CADIZ - Some area residents depend on Harrison County's rich
freshwater resources for clean drinking water, but some believe
the Utica and Marcellus shale drilling rush may pose a risk to
these springs and streams.
"In Harrison County, a lot of people depend on springs for their
water. This is the first risk for one of these springs to be
contaminated," said Charles Fisher, administrator of the Harrison
County Health Department. "Everyone is working really hard to
figure out what is going on to prevent it from becoming a larger
The problem, as described by Fisher and local organic farmer John
M. Luber, is that a stream near Fife Road that empties into Tappan
Lake becomes discolored during periods of rainfall or melting
The stream is located near the Chesapeake Energy Dodson well site,
Fisher said. Both he and Luber emphasize the pollution did not
happen until drilling operations began.
"I have talked to Chesapeake. They have been very cooperative,"
Fisher said. "When it comes to the actual drilling operations,
they believe there is no risk."
"Perhaps when they laid the pad, they may have impacted the source
of the water," Fisher said. "This is not normal - and it appears
to be related to this activity."
Fisher said the contaminant appears to be crushed limestone, also
known as calcium carbonate. Though he does not consider this
material hazardous, he said the Ohio Environmental Protection
Agency considers any substance that causes a stream to become
unclear to be a pollutant.
"It is a source of pollution. It is not a significant pollutant,
but we need to make sure we can get a handle on this now because
of all the drilling taking place in our county," Fisher said.
Natural gas companies now active in Harrison County include
Chesapeake, Hess Corp., Gulfport Energy, XTO Energy and Oxford Oil
Co. The county is also home to the ever-expanding $500 million
MarkWest Energy processing plant and a portion of the $900 million
M3 Midstream processing.
Fisher said he is taking the problem "very seriously" as he works
with state regulators to address the matter. Luber filed an
official complaint with Ohio EPA Director Scott Nally regarding
Agency spokesman Mike Settles said the EPA is aware of the
"It looked like it was related to limestone used to build the
drilling pad. The company has assured us they will no longer allow
stormwater to run off the site," Settles said.
"The stream that this tributary runs into also runs through my
farm, below my fields, and ultimately this tributary runs into
Tappan Lake. The contamination will degrade the quality of the
watershed," Luber wrote.
Luber said he first discovered the stream "running white" while
walking down the road on Dec. 11.
Pete Kenworthy, spokesman for Chesapeake's Ohio operations, could
not be reached for comment.
"The main concern is to protect the springs. What happens if
something more hazardous would start seeping into the streams?"