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Environment


Mud from Ohio's pipeline construction can be polluting Ohio's rivers and streams, too
Incidents during construction of the first few hundreds of miles of pipelines in eastern Ohio are  raising questions
by WKSU's TIM RUDELL


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Tim Rudell
 
Trent Dougherty is Managing Director of Legal Affairs for the Ohio Environmental Council
Courtesy of Ohio Environmental Council
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In The Region:
Debate continues over the environmental risks of drilling deep underground to tap Ohio’s Utica shale.  But now, as hundreds of miles of pipeline to move oil and gas from shale wells are being built, concerns are shifting to risks above ground. WKSU’s Tim Rudell reports on erupting mud.
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From late last year through last month one of the big players in what's called “mid-stream” development of gas  and oil in Ohio has had  four incidents of clay-laden mud moving up from its pipeline construction sites and getting into streams.

Mid-stream development is the term applied to the pipeline and processing-plant part of the energy business.  

Trent Dogherty of the Ohio Environmental Council says these kinds of problems are not unique to MarkWest’s pipeline projects and are likely to be seen more often as the shale- drilling boom goes forward across eastern Ohio. 

He also says the environmental risks aren’t so much from chemical pollutants, but from the effect the mud itself can have on water critters trying to breathe.  “It’s not the most toxic material you’ll ever see, but 10 inches of slag can be very smothering.

Frank Semple, CEO of MarkWest, was in Cadiz to announce company construction plans in 2011. He told WKSU then that there are proven protocols to deal with spills and other problems. According to a report in the Columbus Dispatch, the clay was cleaned up after each incident involving MarkWest, but the Ohio EPA still wants more answers from the company on what happened, and why. 

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