Energy Transfer Partners, the company backing the contested Dakota Access Pipeline, has been linked to massive spills of drilling fluid in Ohio’s wetland region, Common Dreams reports.
The spills were attributed to the company’s Rover natural gas pipeline, which cuts across the state’s Richland and Stark counties. The pipeline, which spans 713 miles and is worth about US$4.2 billion, damaged the adjacent Tuscarawas River, according to the Sierra Club environmental organization, citing an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, report released earlier this week.
According to the report, over two million gallons of drilling fluids were released in the area.
“Construction just began just a few weeks ago, yet Energy Transfer (Partners) has already spilled more than two million gallons of drilling fluids in two separate disasters, confirming our worst fears about this dangerous pipeline before it has even gone into operation,” Sierra Club Ohio Director Jen Miller said in a statement, Bloomberg reports.
“These disasters prove that the fossil fuel industry is unable to even put a pipeline into use before it spills dangerous chemicals into our precious waterways and recreation areas.”
Energy Transfer Partners spokeswoman Alexis Daniel Rover said the drilling fluid that was released is made of natural clay and water and is non-toxic and it is not harmful to the environment, the Mansfield News Journal reports.
But Ohio EPA documents state the unauthorized discharge of the fluids coated the wetlands, affecting the quality of water. The fluids contained bentonite, an aluminum clay used to lubricate drilling heads, causing additional concern.
The EPA is investigating the spill and has filed notice warnings for the unauthorized discharge of the fluids into the wetlands.
But this isn't the first time Energy Transfer Partners has come under fire for its questionable practices.
The Louisiana Bucket Brigade environmental organization issued a report earlier this year claiming the company was responsible for hundreds of thousands of gallons of spills from pipelines in 2015 and 2016 alone.
Kelcy Warren, the company’s Chief Executive Officer, was one of the corporate giants who helped fund President Donald Trump's Inaugural Committee. Just last week the company scored a big win when a federal judge announced that it could keep some information of spill risks secret from the public.
Energy Transfer Partners is based in Dallas, Texas.