The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency recently ordered the company building the Rover natural gas pipeline to pay $431,000 for water and air pollution violations in the state. Then on Wednesday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) ordered that new horizontal drilling on the Rover project be halted.
Energy Transfer Partners’ Rover pipeline will eventually travel into northwest Ohio and through western Fulton County on its way to Michigan.
One spill in a wetland near the Tuscarawas River near Navarre, Ohio, could total as much as two million gallons of the drilling mud. A second spill was estimated at 50,000 gallons and occurred in Mifflin Township, east of Mansfield.
Both spills involved drilling fluids — a mud containing bentonite — from horizontal directional drilling tied to construction of a buried pipeline, according to Ohio EPA paperwork.
In addition to halting horizontal drilling, FERC has required Rover to immediately obtain independent third-party contractor proposals to further analyze all horizontal drilling activity at the Tuscarawas River. Based on the outcome of the independent analysis, this matter may also be referred to the Commission’s Office of Enforcement for further investigation.
An Energy Transfer Partners statement called the spills into wetlands, “inadvertent releases.” They also said releases of the bentonite/water slurry mixture are not uncommon during horizontal drilling operations, and that the risks from those releases are much less than alternate crossing methods.
Currently, the company can continue drilling where already begun because stopping once started can cause environmental damage.