DEP: No Fish Kill in Dunkard Creek
State agency to monitor cleanup of nontoxic spill
Morgantown Dominion Post
1 September 2012
By Jim Bissett
Dunkard Creek dodged an environmental bullet Thursday.
The material that a company installing an underground pipeline
accidentally leaked into its waters was nontoxic, a spokesman with
the state Division of Environmental Protection (DEP) said.
“If you know the history of Dunkard Creek,” Tom Aluise said, “you
know that’s pretty significant.”
The spill happened near Blacksville at the creek that was roiled
with a major fish kill three years ago.
Momentum, the company doing work in the western end of Monongalia
County, inadvertently released bentonite, a material that is mixed
with water and used to lubricate the industrial-sized drill bits
that bore through the earth.
The Texas-based company that has offices in Westover is doing the
drilling to install transmission lines for its M3 Appalachia Gas
Gathering System project, Aluise said.
Those lines will eventually be used in Marcellus shale
exploration, he said. The shale is a prehistoric rock formation
rich in natural gas that runs thousands of feet below most of the
Appalachian region, including West Virginia.
Aluise said the company acted quickly when it discovered the
“They had everything contained in a hurry,” he said. For now,
Aluise said, the company has hired an outside environmental
company and has also enlisted its own workers in the cleanup
effort that includes laying down sandbags to contain the water
made cloudy by the bentonite.
The DEP will also monitor the work, Aluise said.
Dunkard Creek, which meanders 33 miles through Mon County and
neighboring Greene County, Pa., has had its waters fouled over the
years with acid mine runoff. In September 2009, mine water
illegally discharged wiped out virtually all of its aquatic life.
“No fish kill on Thursday,” Aluise said.
Kevin Arkola, who pastors at Trinity Baptist Church, which is
directly behind the spill area, said Momentum is now picking up
steam on the work.
“The company is being very neighborly and apologetic about the
whole thing,” said Arkola, who lives next door with his wife and
That will also carry over Sunday services, he said. Last week, 74
people slid into Trinity’s pews, he said. This week, Momentum will
make sure they have a place to park.
While its trucks are taking up space in Trinity’s lot, Arkola said
the company will put down mats so cars can park elsewhere in his
yard for church.
“That’s to keep people from tearing up the grass,” he said.
Aluise said Friday he didn’t know how long the cleanup would take.
Calls to Momentum’s Westover office weren’t returned in time for