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Ohio levels new accusations of drilling waste dumping
Small trucking company and big drilling company may be found responsible

Tim Rudell
In The Region:

The state has ordered a trucking company to stop operating in Ohio after it discovered oil-field waste dumped near the southeast Ohio town of St. Clairsville. And it may hold a $3 billion corporation responsible as well. 

Ohio Department of Natural Resources spokesman Mark Bruce says Harch Environmental Resources was supposed to be hauling brine from a Gulfport Energy drilling site in Belmont County to a disposal well. But, acting on a tip last month, a state enforcement agent found something else on a farm near St. Clairsville.

BRUCE on what investigator found

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"The inspector found standing water and what appeared to be oil=based mud that had been discharged onto the ground. We looked at that, took some pictures, took some samples there and it indicated that trucks had backed up to the top of a hill and released oil field waste down that hillside and into a private pond."

Bruce says ODNR is consulting with the Ohio Attorney General’s office on possible civil and criminal penalties against Harch, and against Gulfport, a $3 billion company and one of the biggest players in the Ohio shale drilling boom.  Ohio law holds the company creating drilling waste responsible for monitoring it “from inception to disposal.”

Meanwhile, Harch, a New Jersey-based company that set up operations in St. Clairsville less than two years ago, was ordered to cease operations in Ohio immediately.  And, the company was given 24 hours to show cause why its certificate to haul brine should not be revoked. 

A person who answered the phone number for  the company, and identified himself only as "Matt," said Harch Resources is not releasing a statement yet, and that the situation is "under an internal investigation." He also characterized "everything (as) false allegations."

Gulfport could not be reached for comment. 

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