Barberton Steel Industries issued violation after mineral oil spill into Tuscarawas River

Posted at 5:01 PM, Jun 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-01 17:56:22-04

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency issued a violation to a Barberton steel company after a mineral oil spill last week led to a mile-long slick in the Tuscarawas River.

The Ohio EPA tells News 5 inspectors responded on May 23 to a 1.2-mile petroleum sheen report on the Tuscarawas River.

With help from the Barberton Fire Department and their boat, the source of the sheen was traced to Barberton Steel Industries. A spokesperson said the product was light mineral oil used as a hydraulic fluid and cutting lubricant.

“Once the company was made aware of the release, they performed self-cleanup to address it,” a statement from the OEPA reads.

The company was issued a notice of violation for unauthorized discharges to waters of the state of Ohio.

During a follow-up visit on Wednesday, inspectors found the cleanup to be complete with no sheen on the river, or at the discharge point, and the impacted soil and the area of the spill had been effectively addressed.

The steel company did not respond to News 5's request for comment. 

It was a sight that upset regulars to the river, especially fisherman.

John Ziats frequents the Towpath trail in Barberton near where the slick was spotted.

“It’s a shame if this river gets spoiled,” he said. “It’s bad enough the way it is we don’t need to make it any worse.”

The Ohio Environmental Council, an advocacy organization based in Columbus, said that despite the quick clean up, the oil spill will likely still have adverse effects on the river’s ecosystem.

“There is definitely potential for there to be toxic chemicals in that material,” explained Melanie Houston, Director of Oil & Gas for the Ohio Environmental Council. 

The spill comes just 6 weeks after a 2-million gallon spill in southern Stark Co. that effected the same river and the wetlands adjacent to it in Navarre, Ohio.

The Ohio EPA cited and fined Energy Transfer Parters for the spills, which consisted of drilling fluid from the Rover pipeline, a natural gas pipeline project through Ohio.

The company contends that the material is non-toxic, but the OEC argues that it will still disrupt the ecosystem.

“This material will effectively smother out the aquatic life that can be found in those wetlands,” Houston said.

The Federal Regulatory Energy Commission has halted drilling projects as it investigates the spills.