Trial set for local business owner accused of dumping waste water

Trial set for local business owner by Evan Bevins, January 4, 2013, The Marietta Times
A New Matamoras business owner accused of dumping well wastewater into a Monroe County stream is set to stand trial in Feb. 11. Robert D. Armstrong and his company, RCA Oil and Gas LLC, were indicted Nov. 29 on a charge of knowingly discharging a pollutant into United States water without a proper permit. If convicted, he could face up to three years in prison and a $50,000 fine. Armstrong has pleaded not guilty, said his attorney, federal public defender Gordon Hobson, who declined to comment on the specifics of the case. The alleged violation occurred at a well off Monroe County 19, about five miles north of New Matamoras in Benton Township, according to Harry Cisler, who owns the property on which the well is located. Court documents say the earthen wall of a reservoir near the well was breached with a backhoe in June 2010, causing approximately 800,000 gallons of water – some of which was considered wastewater from other nearby wells – to flow into Rockcamp Run, a tributary of the Little Muskingum River. “That is just terrible, because the Little Muskingum is one of the cleanest streams in the state,” said Marietta resident Marilyn Ortt….

According to the indictment filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, RCA provides services for oil and gas wells in southeast Ohio. In June 2010, the well, known as Cisler No. 3, was installed and put into production. The reservoir was built nearby to hold water to be used in the hydraulic fracturing process.

The Cisler well appears to be a vertical, rather than horizontal well, because it is not included on the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ tally of Marcellus and Utica wells, said Jocelyn Kozlowski, public information officer for ODNR. Ravenna-based Beck Energy Corp. is listed as the owner of the well…. The reservoir at the Cisler well was filled with approximately 2.2 million gallons of fresh water, the indictment says. Later, it says, Armstrong arranged for approximately 90,000 gallons of brine water, which came from two nearby oil and gas wells, to be placed in it. “Because the brine was from oil and gas wells, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources considered the liquid in the reservoir to be oil field wastewater and therefore it had to be disposed of properly,” the indictment says. After the Cisler well was fracked, the document says, about 800,000 gallons of water remained in the reservoir at the time Armstrong breached the wall. A small sample of water from the reservoir was obtained, and analysis showed “significant concentrations of barium and sodium,” the indictment says. … According to the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, barium compounds are used by the oil and gas industry to make drilling muds, which keep drill bits lubricated as they move through rock.  [Emphasis added]

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