This article originally provided by Clarksburg Exponent-Telegram
April 21 , 2010
Another oil spill cleaned up in Doddridge County; DEP issues citation
by Darlene Taylor-Morgan, staff writer
Wednesday, April 21, 2010 6:36 AM CDT
WEST UNION — East Resources has completed most of the oil spill cleanup in Lafferty Fork near the Doddridge/Tyler County line that occurred March 31, according to a state agency.
An oil spill of three to five barrels was reported by a citizen. The spill affected a half-mile area of the creek, Division of Environmental Protection spokesman Tom Aluise said.
“There was no fish kill and a notice of violation was written for the spill,” Aluise said. “Our office will assess whether a fine will be imposed on East Resources.”
The company is from Jacksonburg, Wetzel County, according to Aluise.
Protocol for alerting agencies about potentially hazardous spills changed Nov. 19 because of a previous incident in Doddridge County, according to Mike Dorsey. He is chief of Homeland Security and Emergency Response for the West Virginia DEP.
When spills are reported to the DEP’s hotline, they are transcribed into an e-mail that is then sent to both the DEP and the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Bureau of Public Health. The bureau then can alert water treatment plants if there is a spill nearby that needs to be cleaned up.
Previously, all spills were reported to the DEP. Then DEP officials would decide if the spill was severe enough to alert the Bureau of Public Health, which would then notify the affected water treatment plant. That’s according to Walt Ivey, director of the bureau’s Environmental Engineering Division.
The DEP didn’t notify anyone of a spill that occurred last summer in a stream on Buckeye Run in Doddridge County. Months later West Union officials learned of it when The Exponent Telegram ran an article saying that the contents of the spill had not been identified or completely cleaned up.
There are still contaminant booms (devices) in place at the latest spill, and DEP Inspector Dave Schranage will do a follow-up inspection, Aluise said.
Brad Hess, technical analyst with the state Bureau of Public Health in Wheeling, said his office notified West Union Water Plant Operator Duane Reynolds on April 1.
“They found out it didn’t affect their water. That size spill would be substantial if it was going directly into the water that is used for the water supply,” Hess said.
The location is actually downstream of the West Union water supply, according to Reynolds. Although it was difficult to pinpoint the exact spot where it occurred, he decided that it was best to contact Middlebourne Water Plant.
Middlebourne Mayor Gayla Fisher said they were aware of the spill, and it did not affect their water plant.
The oil well that leaked because of a loose fitting is located close to Stringtown. Directions say to take W.Va. 18 to Indian Creek Road, go 9 1/4 miles to low water bridge and it is off a back road.
“They send me notices about spills that I can’t even find,” Reynolds said.
He worries that with more than 115 Marcellus wells already permitted in Doddridge County there could be a drinking water shortage.
“I’m worried, especially if we would experience a drought this summer,” Reynolds said.
The Marcellus shale is a rock formation 6,000 to 8,000 feet beneath Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia and Ohio. Energy companies combine horizontal drilling with hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” a technique that injects vast amounts of water, along with sand and chemicals, underground to break up the shale and release the gas.
The companies generally get the water needed from nearby stream beds.
Staff writer Darlene J. Taylor-Morgan can be reached at (304) 626-1403 or by e-mail at email@example.com