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Natural Gas Water Truck In Accident, Spills Brine Near Barnesville Reservoir

BARNESVILLE – Gulfport Energy contractors may not be drawing any water from the village reservoir, but an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency spokesman said the company is responsible for 5,000 gallons of brine that leaked into a stream leading to the reservoir Wednesday.

Officials with Ohio EPA and the state’s Department of Natural Resources joined local emergency authorities to investigate the scene along Ohio 800 south of Barnesville Wednesday after a tractor-trailer overturned around 3 a.m. Barnesville Fire Chief Bob Smith said emergency workers flew the truck driver via medical helicopter to a Columbus area hospital for unspecified injuries. No other vehicles were involved in the crash, he said.

“Things like this usually happen out on the interstate,” Smith said. “We’ve never had one affect Barnesville directly like this.”

Oklahoma City-based Gulfport is one of several companies fracking in the area of the western Belmont County village of 4,100 residents. Last year, Gulfport sued the village for the right to draw specific amounts of water from the Slope Creek Reservoir, but the suit was ultimately dropped so the parties could seek an amicable solution to the dispute.

“The company responsible for the water is Gulfport Energy. They said it is not frack water.” Ohio EPA spokesman James Lee said of the brine that leaked into the unnamed tributary Wednesday.

Smith and Belmont County Emergency Management Director Dave Ivan said the unnamed tributary leads to the reservoir. Ivan said Barnesville has the ability to draw water from two other reservoirs, so there is no immediate threat to the water supply.

“Ohio EPA will be testing to determine when this reservoir can be used again,” Lee said. “By testing the water in the reservoir, we will determine what (the truck) was carrying.”

Barnesville Village Administrator Roger Deal said the reservoir holds 90 million gallons of water, so he did not anticipate 5,000 gallons of brine causing much of a problem.

“Our water has always been safe – and our water will continue to be safe,” he said.

Smith and Ivan said a hazardous materials crew would clean up the mess. Ivan said this is the first such situation he has seen in the county involving a truck transporting brine to or from a natural gas drilling site.

Ohio DNR spokesman Eric Heis said officials determined there was no impact to wildlife. According to Ohio Revised Code, brine can be, “all saline geological formation water resulting from, obtained from, or produced in connection with exploration, drilling, well stimulation, production of oil or gas, or plugging of a well.”

Gulfport reported a $1.2 billion loss last year amid the depressed oil and natural gas price environment, but still plans to use $375 million for more drilling and fracking this year. Gulfport Vice President of Corporate Development Paul Heerwagen could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.


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