Ohio EPA returns to Tuscarawas River to address reports of oil

Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 10:30 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BARBERTON, Ohio (WOIO) -Two months ago, there was a massive oil spill in the Tuscarawas River. Geese and muskrats were drenched in the oil and struggling to survive.

19 News was on the story when it happened and followed up on Thursday after several people reported that the oil was still not cleaned up.

Noble Oil Services stopped cleaning up the mess more than a month ago. The EPA cleared them to leave but 19 News spoke with James Carnahan, the man who originally reported the spill, and he said he has been begging the EPA to come back out here ever since. 19 News reached out to the EPA on Wednesday. The OHIO EPA came out to investigate Thursday.

Carnahan thanked 19 News for helping the community.

“I think that was the magic because from that point on there’s attention,” said Carnahan. “People start showing up and they actually start taking some kind of action, that’s exactly what we needed. It’s a shame that it has to come to that. We have to bring the media in to get their attention otherwise they wanted to just like in the beginning ignore the problem. It’s just we can wait this guy out, we can wait these people out, we can wait this oil out and they can’t. They need to clean this stuff up.”

In early July Noble Oil Services was transferring oil from a tanker truck to a rail car on Snyder Avenue. George Bower, Vice President of Risk Management with Noble Oil said the hose broke or came loose and oil spilled out, that’s how it ended up in the Tuscarawas River.

“It’s the same oil,” Carnahan claimed. “It just isn’t where they thought it was and it’s too hard to get to and its too expensive to get it out of the river.”

The Ohio EPA said they did follow up this week on reports of oil in the vicinity of the July spill. They said they cannot assume the current sheens are related to previous spills.

Eddie Olschansky runs Trash Fish, an organization dedicated to cleaning up the Cuyahoga River. He spent the day kayaking in the Tuscarawas River and was disappointed with the oil he saw.

“Obviously it is not a black tar river that it was a month and a half ago but what I’m seeing out here today weeks and weeks after they claim that they’re done cleaning is not okay with me,” said Olschansky. “There needs to be more done.”

Bower said after hearing from 19 News, he asked crews to inspect the area and contacted the EPA. He admitted some oil was found in one area of the river but said the EPA could not assign responsibility for the oil. He said Noble Oil will clean it up regardless and they plan to start as soon as possible.

“I’m happy to a point because in my opinion to a point is kind of an admission that the river like I said is not cleaner and still needs more attention,” said Carnahan.

19 News will continue to monitor the river to make sure all of the oil gets cleaned up.