WARREN - The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Tuesday responded to written claims that it has been interfering with the business of Warren's Patriot Water Treatment, which had been treating the oilfield waste from D&L Energy in Youngstown.
ODNR spokeswoman Bethany McCorkle said in an emailed statement that a letter was written notifying Patriot it was not listed on the approved disposal plan for Shale Transportation, which ''is required to properly track and ensure the chain of custody for oilfield waste.''
Brine certified haulers in Ohio must have an ODNR-approved plan that indicates where the company is taking the waste. If a company wishes to add a location, a modified plan must be approved by ODNR, according to the statement.
A request hasn't been made to modify the plan, McCorkle said.
''ODNR's main objective is to enforce strict regulations to protect Ohio waters and ensure environmental protection as well as public health and safety,'' McCorkle said in the email.
She also said the agency supports proposed legislation in Gov. John Kasich's budget bill that would outlaw the disposal of treated oilfield waste into the state's groundwater, lakes or streams.
Patriot attorney April Bott, in a letter to top ODNR officials on Monday, wrote that as part of the on-site management efforts at D&L in Youngstown, an ODNR manager instructed D&L not to send any low-TDS (total dissolved solids) wastewater to Patriot ''based on the undocumented claim that Patriot is not an 'authorized' facility.''
Bott wrote ODNR's action leaves D&L with no option ''but to inappropriately push'' low-TDS waste into underground injection wells under high pressure and ''pay ODNR - the business competitor of Patriot - an injection fee.''
Bott also included information in the letter assuring that Patriot held all the necessary permits and approvals from ODNR and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency nor has it had an environmental incident for more than two years.
Patriot president Andrew Blocksom called the state's explanation ''cockamamie'' and an effort to put him out of business in order to collect the fees.
''We're not a disposal site, nor do we dump into Ohio's groundwater, lakes, rivers or streams,'' Blocksom said.
Patriot pre-treats industrial wastewater before the liquid is sent to Warren's wastewater plant for final treatment before it's discharged into the Mahoning River.
Bott said Tuesday Patriot hasn't received the state's letter, which McCorkle said was written on Friday.
Patriot had been treating the D&L waste since ODNR ordered the company to stop all injection well operations in Ohio, including all temporary storage operations at D&L's Salt Springs Road location, following the discovery that thousands of gallons of oilfield waste had been drained into a storm sewer on D&L property.
Patriot had been forced to stop operations from April 1 to July 3, 2012, while it battled ODNR for permission to restart operations. Ultimately, Patriot won the challenge by a ruling from the Ohio Environmental Review Appeals Commission.
Patriot then filed a lawsuit in Dec. 2012, which is currently pending, alleging that ODNR hid and destroyed public records that would have helped resolve its case more quickly. Patriot Water is seeking more than $3.5 million from ODNR in the case.