Like many Barnesville residents, village officials have been waiting over a month for water testing results from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency after a tanker truck hauling brine water from a well site in Monroe County owned by Gulfport Energy, wrecked on SR 800 south of Barnesville, spilling 5,000 gallons of brine water into a nearby creek that is an unnamed tributary to the north fork of Captina Creek, leading to Reservoir #1 on Wednesday, March 9.
On Monday, April 11, Barnesville Mayor Dale Bunting said he was contacted by an OEPA representative on Friday evening, April 8. A summary of testing results received so far were e-mailed to Bunting, who was to receive a paper copy mailed to the village on Monday. Those results were not available to The Enterprise by press time on Monday, but are now on this website and the Enterprise Facebook page.
Bunting said the OEPA was expected to make an announcement about the results on Thursday, April 7, but they did not. Bunting made the following statement to The Enterprise on Friday, “As you know there was an accident on State Route 800 South near Barnesville that spilled 5,000 gallons of brine water into what we call Reservoir #1, after the tanker truck driver failed to negotiate a curve. The EPA responded quickly and took samples. At that point they said testing results would take 21 days or so because they were checking for radiation, etc., in the meantime, last Wednesday (April 6) they came back out and re-sampled the water near the intake of the reservoir. They will compare those samples to the samples they took the day of the accident, to find out what we really want to  know: if there has been any contamination. The EPA has said it will be another 10-12 days to get those results. Barnesville Water Treatment Plant Manager Doug Frye and Village Administrator Roger Deal have been in close contact with the OEPA. The reservoir has been offline since the accident and will remain offline until the results are received. We will let the public know, as soon as we do.”
Bunting said the re-sampling is a common practice to compare the two samples.
At the Monday, April 4 meeting, village council members agreed that results were needed and that contact with the OEPA should be made to try to expedite those results, after being addressed by Barnesville resident Jill Hunkler about the spill and the yet to be released testing results.
“Ohio regulatory authorities appear to be deliberately down playing the risks of fracking fluid to our health when they call it “brine” which conjures up the image of simple salt water. Calling fracking fluid “brine” is seriously misleading, but it is downright dishonest when they go farther and explicitly tell the public, as they have, that it is ‘just salt water,’” she told council.
“In fact, fracking fluid contains any of dozens of chemicals used in the fracking process. Some of these chemicals are harmless, but some are hazardous. Furthermore, used fracking fluid picks up harmful radioactive elements  from the deep shale layer.
If this material was simply salt water, shale gas operators in other states would not be going to the extra expense of shipping this waste to Ohio for injection disposal under our lax laws.”
Hunkler referenced an April 2 article in The Times Leader which stated that OEPA officials had not yet released the results of the water tests.
“This is probably because, as OEPA has admitted, they did not ask for the test results to be expedited,” Hunkler said. “Everything about Ohio’s response suggests that they don’t take protecting the citizens from fracking waste hazards very seriously,”
“I  do think the village should ask for the results,” said Council President Tim McKelvey. “It’s been plenty long enough and I do think it is time to tell us what was spilled there. If we need to write a letter to them, then that’s what we should do.”
Hunkler said she and others had been requesting that information from the OEPA through records requests, and thave been told it could take months.
Although the village has conducted its own tests, Deal and others said they still needed the EPA’s results.
Councilman Tony Johnson noted that the reservoir remained shut off.
“Well it has to be until you get the results, correct?” Hunkler asked.
“If they came back and said we can’t even use it, then it’s still shut off so we could just continue to do what we are doing,” Johnson said.
Hunkler asked if the village was okay with not having access to the reservoir’s water.  “I mean, there is plenty of water other wise,” she asked.
Deal said yes, there was plenty of water, but council agreed test results were needed.
“When are we going to find out?” Council Brad Hudson asked.