Oil Wells Turned Off

ST. MARYS — The wells at the center of a crude oil leak east of St. Marys have been shut down.

Auglaize County EMA Director Troy Anderson told The Evening Leader the order has been given to shut down the wells until officials can investigate what caused a crude oil leak in the area of Ohio 29 and Plattner Pike Friday night. Clean-up crews have been busy cleaning crude oil from the site since the weekend. Some of the crude oil reached a nearby creek before crews contained the leak.

“Right now we are investigating and composing maps trying to determine how the product got from the tank site and into the tiles, which tiles it got into and how it got into the creek,” Anderson said. “The wells have been ordered shut down and they cannot be turned back on until we give the OK. We are going to keep them down until we understand what was going on.”

Allied Environmental of Lima has been given the task of cleaning up the leak.

Boom and pads have been in place since the weekend to make sure none of the remaining crude reaches any waterways. Some of the crude reached a creek that dumps into the St. Marys River. However, crews were able to contain the leak before the crude reached the river.

“We also had several calls of people asking about their drinking wells and if the water is safe,” Anderson said. “At this point, I don’t think there is any reason to believe there is oil in their wells ... If they have an odor in their drinking water, they should have it tested. If they have it tested and it shows there is crude oil in the water, then we can proceed to the next step. Right now, we don’t see a way it could be in their drinking water.”

Crews caught the spill relatively early on — something Anderson said helped to keep the clean-up effort from becoming a massive undertaking.

“It could have been a lot larger of a release,” Anderson said. “It would have been a lot harder to contain once it hit the river. We would have had more to clean and more damage. With the notification coming from the fire department, that was the best thing that could have happened. That saved us a lot of time and headache.”

Anderson did not put a timetable on the clean-up efforts.

“It will take a while,” Anderson said. “We are still cleaning and Allied will make sure it’s clean and 100 percent back to the way it should be, and that’s going to take time to do. There also are certain requirements so it’s going to take a while. We also will continue to monitor and test the soil and air. The costs are going to continue to climb.”

Anderson said the owner of the wells would be responsible for the costs associated with the clean-up.