Crews working on the Rover Pipeline dumped drilling fluid on wetlands in Stark and Richland counties, according to papers filed with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
The larger spill — estimated between 1.5 million and 2 million gallons — occurred in a wetland adjacent to the Tuscarawas River south of Navarre. The pipeline passes through Bethlehem and Pike townships in Stark County and intersects with the river, according to maps.
The second spill is 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 Bethlehem Township, crews were drilling under the Tuscarawas River to create a path for the pipeline.
Drilling has stopped while the company cleans up the spills, Ohio EPA spokesman James Lee said. Vacuum trucks and pumping systems are being used to clear away the mud. The state agency is monitoring the clean up process, he said.
The company reported both spills to the Ohio EPA last week, when the incidents occurred.
Energy Transfer Partners, based in Houston, is building the $4.2 billion Rover Pipeline to move natural gas produced by wells in the Utica and Marcellus shale formations from southeastern Ohio to distribution points in western Ohio, Michigan and Canada. The company hopes to have the project finished and the pipeline operating late this year.
According to the Ohio EPA report, the drilling fluids dumped in Bethlehem Township contained bentonite and cuttings from the dirt and rock formation being drilled. The material covered roughly 500,000 square feet or wetlands with a layer of mud that impacted water quality. The mud is used to lubricate and cool the cutting tools that drill underground.
Rover is a natural gas pipeline system that will move 3.25 billion cubic feet per day along a 713-mile route. The double pipeline will run underground and the pipe width varies from 24 to 42 inches in diameter.
The violations still are being investigated by Ohio EPA. The agency has warned the company to stop dumping drilling mud in wetlands, find a way to clean the dump site and follow plans for proper disposal of drilling mud.
The company, in a letter to Ohio EPA, thanked the agency for its time and effort providing guidance on cleaning the sites.
Energy Transfer faces a potential fine of $10,000 per day for each violation. The spills are the newest headache for the company as it starts construction of Rover. There were complaints in March as crews scrambled to remove trees from the route before a bat-nesting season started. Late last year the company drew fire after demolishing an historic house outside Leesville.