Dunkard Creek Cleanup
Gas company containing lubricant spill
Morgantown Dominion Post
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
“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
“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.