NORTH ROYALTON – City hall announced it will bill Cutter Oil Company in an attempt to recoup manpower and service costs pertaining to last month’s oil spill in the Whispering Woods development.
During city council’s safety committee meeting May 16, members were given an update. Ward 3 Councilman Dan Langshaw asked what is being done by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to ensure other wells in the city are safe and operational.
“We are waiting on a written report on why this happened, what’s being done to prevent it in the future. We’ve also requested (the ODNR) go out and inspect every well in the city, and we’ll get a report on that too,” Mayor Bob Stefanik said. “We are charging Cutter back for what it cost us to go out there and respond.”
The city will be charging Cutter just shy of $1,500 for the cost of the manpower that responded, the absorbent pads used to skim oil from the retention basin and the city response vehicles that were on scene.
Langshaw said he was happy to hear this.
“Taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook for Cutter’s mess,” he said.
According to Steve Irwin, division of oil and gas resources management for the ODNR, the 32 producing wells in the city have now all been inspected this year, some prior to this incident and the remainder after the mayor’s request.
Clean-up at the spill site is complete, was successful, Irwin added, and has been signed off on by ODNR Oil and Gas and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
He stated last month the spill was caused by a failed transfer valve between storage tanks. As required by Ohio law, there is a dike around the tanks that successfully contained most of the oil, approximately 25 barrels (1,050 gallons). Less than half a barrel of oil (21 gallons) was estimated to have escaped the dike around the discharge pipe into the retention basin.
All product was captured by booms and removed by vacuum truck.
The oil release was discovered April 25 by Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District employees who happened to be in the area conducting an inspection of a nearby retention basin.
The fire department deployed containment material until the ODNR, which regulates oil and gas wells in the state, Cutter Oil and the Ohio EPA arrived and took over site clean-up shortly after.
Law Director Tom Kelly shared his displeasure at the circumstances during the meeting.
“Cutter expressed gratitude for saving him tens of thousands of dollars cleaning it up as quick as we did. That’s our friend Mr. Cutter,” he said facetiously.
This is the second time the city has billed Cutter in the wake of a spill.
In 2011, a well on Mercury Drive leaked an estimated 1,000 gallons total, of which 200 to 300 gallons migrated and was found in soil and the Chippewa Creek in Broadview Heights. That spill’s cause was determined to be a fitting failure on the subsurface flow line from the well head. The city billed Cutter $3,000 and the EPA cited them for contamination of a natural waterway.
Cutter Oil was contacted but did not provide comment.