EPA Investigation report details toxic chemicals at Statoil Frac Site Explosion; Chemicals spilled into Opossum Creek – 70,000 fish killed; Ohio Regulator says safe to drink the water

Federal Report Details Chemicals Used At Drilling Site by Rick Reitzel, July 22, 2014, NBC4i
MONROE COUNTY, Ohio – For the first time, we are learning some of the chemicals used to frack an oil and natural gas well that was involved in a huge fire June 28 in Monroe County.

But we’re learning about the chemicals the hard way, after those products and trucks staged to hydraulically fracture oil and natural wells went up in a giant inferno.

An investigation in the explosion and fire is still ongoing, but NBC4’s Rick Reitzel was able to get some of those details from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Pollution/Situation Report. The fire was so large it could be seen across the Ohio River in West Virginia. The smoke from it was so thick the Monroe County EMA Director, Phil Keevert said firefighters had to be pulled back three times and it took more than 24 hours to extinguish. First responders poured in from around Monroe and Belmont counties and from West Virginia to attack the fire. In all Keevert said 12 fire departments and other state, federal and private agency assisted.  The report states more than 300,000 gallons of water were poured onto the burning well pad.

Sixteen different chemicals were staged in trucks ready to frack wells on the site, along with those chemicals we have learned were three radiological sources, called Cesium-137, shaped charges, primer cord and detonators.

NBC4: “Do you feel satisfied that you knew enough about what was going on there to keep fire fighters safe?

“There were some questionable moments not have a full list of the chemicals,”
said Phil Keevert, Monroe County EMA Director.

He said a Halliburton representative told him about the chemicals at the fire scene. As to the radiological sources, “we were told about the three boxes on site,” Keevert said. But none of the 12 fire departments knew what chemicals, radiological and explosives they were encountering before they arrived at the emergency.

“Where has the state been on all of this,” said Dr. Juilie Weatherington-Rice. She is a geologist, soil scientist and Adjunct Professor at The Ohio State University.

She said fire departments should have a list of chemicals and an emergency plan for each site before an emergency.

“Why don’t people know ahead of time, because we can’t make the assumption this will never happen, because guess what it did,”
she said.

Weatherington-Rice said she hopes first responders on the scene were wearing breathing masks. Because some of the chemicals consumed in the fire were toxic and could make you sick, others more hazardous could kill you. The affects she said, might not be realized immediately. The report states 70,000 fish were killed in Opossum Creek which leads into the Ohio River. There is no evidence of whether fish were killed in the river. Contrary to what the well owner StatOil said after the fire, the US EPA report shows flowback water also poured out of one of the seven well on the site, in the creek.

Weatherington-Rice said she is concerned about the state being our watchdog. “It does not appear to be as concerned about protecting the people of ohio as it appears to be concerned about promoting oil and gas drilling,” she said.

ODNR Spokesman Mark Bruce said the investigation into the fire is still ongoing and they cannot comment about it. But said state and federal laws ensure first responders and investigators were aware of the hazards onsite. [Emphasis added]

Halliburton Fracking Spill Mystery: What Chemicals Polluted an Ohio Waterway? A recent accident highlights how state fracking laws protect corporate trade secrets over public safety by Mariah Blake, July 24, 2014, Mother Jones
On the morning of June 28, a fire broke out at a Halliburton fracking site in Monroe County, Ohio. As flames engulfed the area, trucks began exploding and thousands of gallons of toxic chemicals spilled into a tributary of the Ohio River, which supplies drinking water for millions of residents. More than 70,000 fish died. Nevertheless, it took five days for the Environmental Protection Agency and its Ohio counterpart to get a full list of the chemicals polluting the waterway. “We knew there was something toxic in the water,” says an environmental official who was on the scene. “But we had no way of assessing whether it was a threat to human health or how best to protect the public.”

According to a preliminary EPA inquiry, more than 25,000 gallons of chemicals, diesel fuel, and other compounds were released during the accident, which began with a ruptured hydraulic line spraying flammable liquid on hot equipment. The flames later engulfed 20 trucks, triggering some 30 explosions that rained shrapnel over the site and hampered firefighting efforts.

Officials from the EPA, the Ohio EPA, and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) arrived on the scene shortly after the fire erupted. Working with an outside firm hired by Statoil, the site’s owner, they immediately began testing water for contaminates. They found a number of toxic chemicals, including ethylene glycol, which can damage kidneys, and phthalates, which are linked to a raft of grave health problems. Soon dead fish began surfacing downstream from the spill. Nathan Johnson, a staff attorney for the non-profit Ohio Environmental Council, describes the scene as “a miles-long trail of death and destruction” with tens of thousands of fish floating belly up.

Statoil and the federal and state officials set up a “unified command” center and began scouring a list of chemicals Halliburton had provided them for a compound that might be triggering the die off. But the company had not disclosed those ingredients that it considered trade secrets.

Halliburton was under no obligation to reveal the full roster of chemicals. Under a 2012 Ohio law—which includes key provisions from ALEC’s model bill on fracking fluid disclosure—gas drillers are legally required to reveal some of the chemicals they use, but only 60 days after a fracking job is finished. And they don’t have to disclose proprietary ingredients, except in emergencies.

Even in these cases, only emergency responders and the chief of the ODNR’s oil and gas division, which is known to be cozy with industry, are entitled to the information. And they are barred from sharing it, even with environmental agencies and public health officials. Environmental groups argue this makes it impossible to adequately test for contamination or take other necessary steps to protect public health. “Ohio is playing a dangerous game of hide and seek with first responders and community safety,” says Teresa Mills of the Virginia-based Center for Health, Environment, and Justice.

Within two days of the spill, Halliburton disclosed the proprietary chemicals to firefighters and the oil and gas division chief, but it didn’t give this information to the EPA and its Ohio counterpart until five days after the accident, by which time the chemicals had likely reached or flowed past towns that draw drinking water from the Ohio River.

Ohio state officials maintain that the river water is safe to drink because the fracking chemicals have been so heavily diluted. [Emphasis added]

EPA report shows agency waited 5 days to discover Ohio spill chemical contents by Laura Arenschield, July 23, 2014, The Columbus Dispatch
A fracking company made federal and state agencies that oversee drinking-water safety wait days before it shared a list of toxic chemicals that spilled from a drilling site into a tributary of the Ohio River.

Although the spill following a fire on June 28 at the Statoil North America well pad in Monroe County stretched 5 miles along the creek and killed more than 70,000 fish and wildlife, state officials said they do not believe drinking water was affected.

But environmental advocacy groups said they wonder how the state can be sure. A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report obtained by The Dispatch shows that the federal and state EPA officials had to wait five days before they were given a full list of the fracking chemicals the drilling company used at the site.

Halliburton, the company hired by Statoil to frack the horizontal well, provided a partial list up front that included most of the chemicals. Others, which are protected by Ohio’s trade-secrets law, were omitted.

Once a fracking job is finished, drilling companies have 60 days to disclose what chemicals they used to the Department of Natural Resources, which oversees drilling and fracking operations in Ohio. … Halliburton has yet to finish fracking the Monroe County well that caught fire.

Chris Abbruzzese, an Ohio EPA spokesman, said that on the day of the fire and spill, a representative from a group that represents the federal and state EPA offices, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Monroe County emergency management and fire workers asked Statoil and Halliburton for a list of the chemicals. “Once they realized that the proprietary information wasn’t included, there were additional (requests) made,” Abbruzzese said.

Natural Resources, which regulates drilling in Ohio, has authority under state law to see the entire list and asked on its own two days after the fire.

Halliburton, the company hired by Statoil to frack the well, gave the list to the single agency. But Natural Resources did not share that information with either EPA office.

Kirsten Henriksen, a spokeswoman for Statoil, said the company hired an outside toxicology firm to test both the creek and the Ohio River for toxic chemicals. None were found in the Ohio River, she said. The Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission, a multi-state agency that tests the river, also found no contaminants. “Based on the chemicals that we were aware of, if there had been any other chemicals that would have been there, they all would have showed up (in tests),” Abbruzzese said. [Do regulators have any credibility anymore to test accurately, or tell the truth?]

Kelly Scribner, a toxicologist with the Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health, which was hired by Statoil to perform the tests, said she wasn’t given a full list of chemicals either.

Fracking chemicals include ethylene glycol, which can damage kidneys; formaldehyde, a known cancer risk; and naphthalene, considered a possible carcinogen. The water tests showed elevated levels of chlorides, salt and acetone in the creek near the well pad. By the time federal and state EPA officials were given the full list, those chemicals likely flowed past towns along the Ohio River that draw in drinking water.

“We’ve got 70,000 or so fish that died,” said Nathan Johnson, an attorney for the Ohio Environmental Council. “Clearly, something was wrong with the water.”

The group has been lobbying the Ohio legislature to pass laws that would force companies during emergencies to immediately disclose the full list of chemicals to all state agencies.

Oil and gas industry officials and regulators have pushed back against additional regulations, saying Ohio’s laws are more than adequate to protect people.

In a speech on Tuesday outside Mansfield, Gov. John Kasich said Ohio has “very tough regulations” concerning fracking. “If the accidents happen, and we’re not minding the store, or we’re looking the other way, that would be a disaster for us,” he said. Kasich told The Dispatch it would be unacceptable for emergency responders, including federal and Ohio EPA officials, not to know the full list of chemicals that might have spilled into the river. “We want people to know what the fracking fluid contains,” he said. [Wanting and doing are not the same thing]

Other states, including Pennsylvania and Texas, make companies disclose the full list of chemicals within 30 days of wrapping up a fracking operation. In Oklahoma, they must disclose the chemicals to state regulators before a well is drilled.

The fire continued to smolder for six days. As it burned, firefighters doused it with water and foam, washing chemicals from the site into the tributary, which flows for five miles before reaching the Ohio River.

“It is a huge problem,” said Johnson, the Ohio Environmental Council attorney. “We’re essentially at the behest of the company with the chemical information.” [Emphasis added]


2014 06 29 29 EPA prelim investigation report Statoil Halliburton frac explosion and chemicals ohio Description of Threat
Over 16 different chemicals products were staged on the Pad at the time of the explosion and subsequent fire. Materials present on the Pad included but was not limited to: diesel fuel, hydraulic oil, motor oil, hydrochloric acid, cesium-137 sources, hydrotreated light petroleum distillates, terpenes, terpenoids, isoproponal, ethylene glycol, paraffinic solvents, sodium persulfate, tributyl tetradecyl phosphonium chloride and proprietary components. As a result of fire-fighting efforts and flow back from the well head, significant quantities of water and unknown quantities of products on the well pad left the Site and entered an unnamed tributary of Opossum Creek that ultimately discharges to the Ohio River. Runoff left the pad at various locations via sheet flow as well as by two catch basins located at the northwest and southeast corners of the well pad.

[After Encana frac’d Rosebud’s drinking water aquifers in 2004, diols and kerosene range hydrocarbons were found by Alberta Environment in Rosebud Hamlet drinking water that bypassed the new reservoir. These toxics were ignored by the regulator in their final report. The most common diol used in the oil and gas industry is ethylene glycol. Eight years later, Encana and the regulators still have not disclosed if Encana injected ethylene glycol in its operations above the Base of Groundwater Protection around Rosebud; no chemicals injected have as of yet been disclosed to the public, except for the promise of “hospital grade Nitrogen only.” Encana will not disclose if its frac flow back or wastes are radioactive, not even after dumping waste repeatedly on farm land close to the Hamlet]

1.1.3 Preliminary Removal Assessment/Removal Site Inspection Results

Initial reports identified the following products were involved and lost in the fire: ~250 gallons of hydrochloric acid (28%), ~7,040 gallons of GasPerm 1000 (terpenes, terpenoids, isopropanol, citrus extract, proprietary components), ~330 gallons of LCA-1 (paraffinic solvents), ~ 1900 gallons of LGC-36 UC (hydrotreated light petroleum distillate, guar gum), ~1000 gallons of BC-140 (monoethanolamine borate, ethylene glycol), ~3300 gallons of BE-9 (tributyl tetradecyl phosphonium chloride), ~30,000 gallons of WG-36 (polysaccharide gel), ~1,000 gallons of FR-66 (hydrotreated light petroleum distillate), ~9000 gallons of diesel fuel, ~300 gallons of motor and hydraulic oil.

Additionally, there was an inventory of shaped charges, primer cord and detonators on the site as well as three Cesium-137 radiological sources (2-100 millicurie and 1-55 millicurie) with unknown disposition as a result of the fire.

[Shaped charges are used in perforating explosives]

ODNR Division of Wildlife completed their in stream assessment of the fish kill and reported an estimated 70,000 dead fish from an approximately 5 mile stretch extending from the unnamed tributary just west of the Eisenbarth Well Pad to Opossum Creek just before its confluence with the Ohio River. No fish kills were reported on the Ohio River.

Water samples of runoff indicated the presence of TPH, 2-butanone, acetone, benzene, xylenes, toluene, bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate, 1-methylnapthalene, 2-methylnapthalene, o-Cresol, m&p Cresol, naphthalene, phenol, and chlorides. Surface water sampling results indicated the presence of TPH, acetone, bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate, phenol and chlorides downstream of the well pad.

[Bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate was found by Alberta Environment in the Hamlet and Ernst’s drinking water. The regulator found naphthalene range hydrocarbons, and an increase by a factor of 45 of chromium in the Ernst water. Barium and Strontium doubled. These red flag petroleum industry indicators were ignored by the regulator and research council (now Alberta Innovates)]

… Surface water sampling results indicated the presence of TPH, acetone, bromodichloromethane, chloroform, bis(2-
ethylhexyl)phthalate and chlorides downstream of the well pad. 

Plans to assess surround drinking water wells are being developed. Statoil has previously sampled all wells within 5,000 feet of well head prior to commencing operations.

OEPA and USEPA were provided, by Halliburton, the constituents of the proprietary component of GasPerm 1000. Evaluation of these constituents indicates that current analytical techniques being used with the addition of reporting tentatively identified compounds (TICs) will be sufficient for assessing off-site impacts. Fish recovery efforts continued on the unnamed tributary to Opossum Creek and Opossum Creek. Fish, crayfish and salamanders are being recovered. …

Halliburton began unloading the remaining quantity of FR-66 from the tanker truck. A leak was detected in the bottom valve on the tank

The burning tank containing WG-36 was smothered by pumping Barite (barium sulfate) into the top of the tank. External temperatures dropped throughout the day. Halliburton continued to recover FR-66 from the tanker truck and from pooled areas against the southeast corner of the earthen berm … In total, 11,116 dead fish were collected (20 different species), 3,519 crustaceans, 7 frogs and 20 salamanders. 

[Refer also to:


Harper government enabling the frac harm cover up? Environment Canada criticized for leaving fracking chemicals off pollutant list saying not enough frac chemicals used

Too Late: Federal Report Details Chemicals Used At Statoil Frac Site after the toxic and radiological chemicals including Cesium-137 “went up in a giant inferno”

Ohio Energy Regulator Blaming Nature on First Day of Fatal Home Explosion Investigation, “these pockets are naturally occurring and not the result of human interaction, such as hydraulic fracturing or other gas wells” ]

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