Hundreds attend public meeting on Vienna oil spill

VIENNA TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WYTV) – Hundreds of Vienna residents received some answers Monday night about a waste oil spill that could have put their drinking and bathing water at risk.

The meeting was held at Mathews High School in the township and began at 6 p.m., with some background information from officials about wells and the oil spill, but it was quickly obvious that residents were not there to hear that.

In fact, it didn’t take long for them to express their urgency in wanting answers. Both residents and officials raised their voices trying to get their point across.

“Everybody does not like the answers that you get and some of the non-answers. You don’t want them to make you feel like you are stupid,” Debbie Moy of Vienna said.

As it approached the one-hour mark, residents still were not satisfied. Officials attended the special meeting, delaying the start of the township meeting that was supposed to start at 7 p.m.

The biggest concern is the safety of their water.

“The exact source of the oil is still under an investigation,” Kurt Kohler from the Ohio EPA said.

An estimated 2,000 gallons of waste oil spilled into a private pond on Sodom Hutchings Road, killing some fish and other wildlife. The spill happened on Monday evening, but the Ohio EPA did not come out to investigate until Thursday.

Officials said oil and gas company Kleese Development Associates, or KDA, is responsible for the spill.

“The state is not doing a very aggressive job of going after them about it. They did order a cease and desist, but we want to be sure they follow through,” Jim Converse of Vienna said.

Water samples were sent to a lab in Columbus on Monday to determine if the water is contaminated and if so, how bad. The results will be back Tuesday.

“Until we have test results, we can’t sit here and say it’s safe or it’s not safe. So, what I would tell you to do, anybody that is concerned, should drink bottled water for the time being,” Frank Migliozzi of the Trumbull County Health Department said.

The Nestle Company has donated thousands of cases of water for residents concern about their water.

There were several fracking protesters outside the meeting.

State Rep. Sean O’Brien, D-Hubbard, said there will be an investigation and charges could be filed, depending on what is discovered.

Township Trustee Phil Pegg said the business responsible for the spill, oil and gas developers KDA Inc., voluntarily shut down operations the day of the spill.

KDA issued a statement last week saying the environment is their top priority and they are working closely with the EPA concerning the leak. They are also conducting their own internal investigation into the incident.

Many residents in the area have private wells for their water supply. Resident Diana Devline said she is worried about the safety of her water and hopes to get some answers soon.

“It is my only source of water, drinking water, food source, bathing water. And if that is contaminated, I don’t know what we are going to do, what they are going to do,” Devline said.

Residents are sending their questions to the Vienna township trustees. Vienna Trustee Phil Pegg said he has received calls and emails from residents about the issue, but he’s not getting any information from officials.

“We have been left in dark, locally,” Pegg said. “We are requesting some assistance from the state. Give us some direction. We need help here. Definitely there is a problem.”

Pegg said state officials in Columbus should be doing more to inform them of what’s going on and how to deal with the issue.

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