Belmont OH Family Sues Summit Midstream for Mud Spill Near Home

Summit Midstream Partners was drilling underneath a road and a creek in Belmont County, OH on Oct. 19 to install a pipeline when they experienced an “inadvertent return” (i.e. leak) of drilling mud into the creek. If you’ve read MDN for any length of time, you will have read about other such instances by other companies. Because we constantly have new readers, we post the following explanation, which will sound like a broken record for long-time readers: Drilling mud is bentonite, a form of non-toxic clay also used to make kitty litter, cosmetics and toothpaste–among many, many other consumer products. The only threat posed by a spill of bentonite is that enough of it spills to clog the gills of fish or smother little critters like salamanders. That’s it. Think about taking half a dozen bags of kitty litter to a creek nearby and dumping them all in. It’s nothing. No pollution. We’d certainly rather not have any such accidents–but the reality is, they sometimes happen. That’s why non-toxic bentonite is used. The Ohio EPA stepped in and cited/fined Summit for the spill. Fair enough. But that’s not what this story is about. This story is about a family that lives near the spill. They hated Summit’s “loud” drilling before the spill, and now are using Summit’s spill and cleanup work (some of it happening in their front yard) as an excuse to sue Summit, hoping to score big bucks. Good luck with that…

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