MANSFIELD -- A few weeks after 200 gallons of drilling fluid leaked into the Black Fork of the Mohican River along the Richland-Ashland County border, representatives of the Rover Pipeline met with the Richland and Crawford County Emergency Management Agencies (EMA) to present each with a $10,000 check.
On Wednesday, EMA directors, Mike Bailey of Richland County and Jette Cander of Crawford County, took part in one of many presentations that will take place along the pipeline's 713-mile route, which runs through portions of Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and Michigan.
Every county traversed by the pipeline will receive a donation.
"We as a company -- Energy Transfer and Rover Pipeline -- have always made a commitment to be good community members and business leaders in the areas that we work and operate, and now that we’re in partial service, we started looking at those opportunities of how we can give back to those communities," said Alexis Daniel, spokesperson for Energy Transfer, the Texas-based parent company of the Rover Pipeline.
A total of $270,000 will be given to support County EMAs, according to Daniel, who says these "donations" are unrelated to the drilling mud spills.
"We’ve always committed to give back, since the infancy of the project," she said.
Along the whole project, Daniel said, there are 49 HDDs (horizontal directional drills), which have the potential to cause inadvertent releases of drilling fluid. Twenty-five are complete, and 16 are in progress.
In previous statements, she's defined the drilling mud as a mixture that is "safe for the environment."
The most recent spills took place in Ashland County earlier this month. The largest was a 200-gallon spill into the Blackfork, near the Richland-Ashland County line. Two smaller ones happened in Milton and Ashland Townships.
In April, 50,000 gallons of drilling fluid spilled into Mifflin Township wetlands in Richland County. EMA director, Bailey, recalls responding to this incident.
"Obviously, if it’s in Richland County, I’m concerned because it could get into the waterways, the drinking water, affect animal life, wildlife," Bailey said.
Since he and his team were "already on the clock," the director explained, there was "no additional expense" when they responded to that incident. Besides this, he's heard few complaints about the pipeline.
Crawford's Cander says, she hasn't seen anything "adverse" in that area.
"They’ve been good working partners to this point with us," she said.
Cander will meet with first responders to determine the best use for the $10,000.
Bailey, too, hadn't yet determined how the money would be used.
"We’ve got some items in mind that need to be purchased. It will be used very wisely, and it will be something that’s needed to enhance or sustain emergency operations," he said after the 8:30 check presentation at the Richland County Emergency Management Agency, 597 Park Ave. East.
In Richland and Crawford Counties, the one of two parallel pipelines are already operational, according to Daniel. The whole project is 90-percent complete and is expected to be finished and in operation by the end of the first quarter in 2018.
Daniel promised to provide a detailed update on the status in Richland, Ashland and Crawford counties later this week.