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Environment & Energy

Rover pipeline's 1.5-Million-Gallon Spill Was Near, But Did Not Contaminate, Canton's Water Source

Pipeline sections
M.L. SCHULTZE
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WKSU
Pipe for pipeline construction

A week ago,  an estimated 1.5 million gallons of a fluid used in drilling the underground pathway for the Rover gas pipeline spilled in southwestern Stark County. The accident was in an area where Canton has shallow wells for its water supply.  

photo of Tyler Converse at Canton Water Plant
Credit Tim Rudell / WKSU
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WKSU
Canton Water Superintendent Tyler Converse

According to the Ohio EPA the spill in Bethlehem Township was contained in a ten acre, low-lying wetland and did not pose an immediate public health risk.  Tyler Converse who heads the Canton Water Department says the incident was a concern and was checked out. “It was northeast, well northeast, of Canton’s water aquifer down at the Sugarcreek water plant, between Bolivar and Beach City. We were looking at it, but it doesn’t appear that it will impact Canton’s drinking water aquifer.”

The Sugarcreek aquifer is one of three used by Canton and is the water source for about 50-thousand people.

Converse, says he was also told that the leaked material did not contain toxic chemicals. “My understanding is that fluid: it’s basically a lubricant to be able to do horizontal drilling and pull that pipeline through the ground. It’s primarily a bentonite clay, which is a natural clay, in conjunction with water.”

converse_clay_and_water.mp3
Canton Water Department head Tyler Converse
Rover map
Rover's path through Ohio and into Michigan

OEPA spokesman James Lee says Rover pipeline’s owners were cited for violations and have begun the cleanup—under agency monitoring.

The spill south of Canton occurred on April 13th.  On the 14th there was another spill of same kind of fluid at a Rover construction site in Richland County.  The Ohio EPA is also investigating and overseeing cleanup of that one.