Water Conservation Alert Lifted after Brookfield Spill

Posted in: United States Water News, Water Conservation, Water Contamination
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Article courtesy of Amanda Smith | July 24, 2015 | WKBN | Shared as educational material

New update: As of Monday morning (July 27, 2015) Aqua Pennsylvania water customers in Mercer and Lawrence Counties and in Brookfield and Hubbard are no longer being asked to conserve water.

BROOKFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) – The U.S. EPA said Friday evening that cleanup efforts will continue next week after 1,700 gallons of oil spilled into a creek that feeds the Shenango River.

Frank Jannetti with the EPA said he arrived on the scene in Brookfield about 4:30 p.m. Cleanup crews put a second containment boom in the river, downstream from where the first boom was placed, to deflect oil that escaped the first boom away from the Aqua America plant.

He said right now, the primary goal is to protect Aqua America. The plan is to go back to the spill and start the cleanup process, which Jannetti said could take several days to a week.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Ohio EPA have allowed Aqua America to open the intakes, but at a lower capacity. Jannetti said the water is being tested as it comes in.

Customers still are being asked to conserve water at least through Saturday. Aqua customers can expect a robocall at 10 a.m. Saturday with the latest updates. Customers who are not getting calls can sign up to receive an alert at Aquaamerica.com.

According to Aqua Pennsylvania Communications Manager Donna Alston, the approximately 75,000 Aqua customers in the following townships should only use water for essential purposes until further notice:

    • Mercer County: City of Farrell, City of Hermitage, City of Sharon, Coolspring Township, E. Lackawannock Township, Jackson Township, Jefferson Township, Lackawannock Township, Mercer Borough, Shenango Township, West Middlesex Borough, Wheatland Borough, Wilmington Township, and Sharpsville Borough.
    • Lawrence County: New Wilmington Borough, Pulaski Township, Wilmington Township.
    • Trumbull County: OH: Brookfield Township, Hubbard Township, City of Hubbard.

Aqua Pennsylvania said watering lawns, lengthy showers, doing laundry and washing cars are considered non-essential uses. Many people or crew spoke with Friday night had not been notified and were doing some of those prohibited things.

After the news broke on Wednesday, Hubbard city officials went to local businesses asking for their help. The Downtown Coffee Cafe stopped giving people free water to do their part to cut back.

“As a community we need to understand what is more important. Anything anyone can do, it is a responsibility as a citizen to do anything you can do,” Laura West, a server at the cafe, said.

Customers were more than understanding.

“We came here for lunch and we were hoping to have some water, but now we have to drink some beer,” Brookfield resident Zac Younkins said.

Many Hubbard car washes like the Uptown Auto Wash voluntarily closed their doors Friday afternoon. But not everyone heard the message.

Splash and Shine Car wash was still open for business. Cole Eddington washes his truck twice a day and has no interest in waiting it out.

And although some people aren’t on board, most residents said they are willing to sacrifice for the greater good.

Alston said that Aqua’s station in Sharon stopped taking in water from the Shenango River shortly after receiving word from the Mercer Co. Emergency Management Association that there had been a spill around 8 a.m. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection asked Aqua to ask its customers that get water from the station to conserve water, according to Alston.

Alston said that the station, which can hold 18 million gallons of water, filled its tanks Thursday night. That means that customers in the areas listed above can still get clean drinking water for the time being.

The Sharon Aqua station will likely start taking in water again when the DEP tells it that it can lift the conservation request, according to Alston.

Crude oil spilled from a tank at 2601 Orangeville Rd. in Brookfield, went into Big Run Creek and made its way into the Shenango River, which runs into Pennsylvania, according to Hagood and a Trumbull County dispatch supervisor. Hagood said that the spill has since been stopped.

The tank is owned by Big Sky Energy, according to the Brookfield Fire Department. Oil at that location gets separated into natural gas and crude oil. Ten barrels of crude oil spilled out, and another oil and gas company, Kleese Developments, pumped the tank dry so that no more would spill out.

Mercer Co. Director of Public Safety Frank Jannetti said that Aqua’s station in Hermitage has been notified and is taking protective measures. Jannetti also said that those downstream of the spill in New Castle, Pa. have been notified of the incident.

A fisherman noticed a film on the surface of the creek and called emergency workers before 8 a.m., Hagood said. Jannetti said he is not sure what the product is and is not sure whether or not wildlife will be affected.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Trumbull County HazMat team, Mercer County emergency response team and the Sharon, Hermitage, Sharpsville and Brookfield Fire Departments helped with the investigation.

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