WOODSFIELD, Ohio - A spill of fracking wastewater in Monroe County has residents there concerned about whether officials there are prepared to handle the coming boom, as more and more contractors access shale formations deep underground.
Ohio Department of Transportation officials said a truck hauling wastewater from the process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, spilled part of its load Thursday along two state roads in Monroe County, Ohio.
Terrill Wickham, ODOT clerk at the Monroe County garage, said the spill involved about four miles along Ohio 537 and about six miles on Ohio 260 near Marr, and was reported around 7 a.m. to the Ohio State Highway Patrol after a motorist indicated there were some slick areas on at least one of the roads.
"We thought it was going to be much worse than it was," he said. "We were afraid it was oil but it was mostly salt water and a few spots with a muddy slurry."
Wickham said 20 tons of sand was poured over the affected roads to soak up the mixture and provide better traction in some areas that were slick.
He said there were no immediate environmental concerns that he was made aware of.
A supervisor with the Ohio State Highway Patrol was not immediately available on Friday.
Mike and Ruth Partin, who live on Ohio 260 where the spill occurred, said the sand was not enough of a solution.
"The sand is not absorbing this stuff," said Ruth Partin. "It just lays over top of it and it's all still there. Now it's rained and whatever all that was and the contaminants that may have come up with it has run everywhere."
The couple spent the day Friday talking to officials with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, ODOT, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and say they were told an environmental study should be done, although they've seen no sign that it's begun. Half a dozen neighbors she talked to were also "very concerned," Partin said.
"This should not still be on our road," she said Friday evening.
Even if the material spilled Thursday doesn't create an environmental or health problem, Ruth Partin said she's worried about the seeming lack of concern from officials.
"This is just the beginning," she said. "In five years, when we have all these wells, this is going to happen more. And if this is the way they're going to take care of it, we might have to put our place up for sale."