Dunkard Creek Cleanup

Gas company containing lubricant spill

Morgantown Dominion Post
31August 2012
By Ben Conley

Crews with M3 Appalachia Gas Gathering System worked overnight to contain and remove drilling lubricant that leaked into Dunkard Creek behind Trinity Baptist Church, less than a half mile from Blacksville.

“We’re installing a pipeline underneath the creek and during that process, they had what’s called an inadvertent release of bentonite, which is an inert clay that they mix with water to help carry solids out of the hole. That’s what’s been released into the creek,” said Phil Kindig, a project manager with M3 Appalachia who was overseeing the cleanup Thursday evening.

Kindig said he could only speculate how much bentonite was released into the creek, but said it could not have been more than an hour or so before the leak was spotted and operations shut down. Construction personnel “made a sweep through here between nine and 10 o’clock and there wasn’t any issue. Then they made a sweep at 10:15 and saw it,” he said.

Kindig explained that the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) was contacted “within 45 minutes” of the discovery.

The affected area of the creek was noticeably cloudy, but Kindig said that once the cloudiness dissipates, there will be no lasting impact on the waterway.

He went on to describe what the cleanup process would look like.

“We’ve got those cuttings contained in a sandbag structure. We’ve got a pump on its way in here right now. They’ll sit that pump right down here and relay those cuttings up into these trucks,” he said, gesturing to a tanker truck parked up the hill from the creek in the church parking lot.

He said from there, the trucks will carry the material to a laydown facility, or storage tanks, located at the old Blacksville mine property, where the drill site attached to the pipeline in question is located. He estimated the drill site to be about 1,300 feet from the spill site.

Kevin Arkola is the pastor at Trinity Baptist and lives next door to the church with his wife and four children. He said that aside from their ducks, who found themselves locked in a pen in the back yard, his family had not been affected and that the crews had been very accommodating.

“They’ve been real easy to deal with,” said Arkola, who also drives a bus for the county. “They offered to put us up in a hotel or whatever we wanted because it’s going to be loud with the trucks coming in and out, but I said they didn’t have to do that.”

Arkola said he understood the water wasn’t contaminated and that he saw the leak as part of the business of drilling.

“They have an easement under us and we OK’d that a long time ago. So this looks like just a complication they’ve run into. I’m sure it hurts them a whole lot more than it hurts us. I imagine it costs them a lot of money to do what they’re doing.”

PHOTOGRAPHER Jason DeProspero contributed to this report.