CALCUTTA-St. Clair township trustees received a preview of the complications that can arise from the county's growing oil and gas industry on January 30. Trustees spoke about the incident at their February 12 meeting and said it could not have come at a worse time, as they were out of town that week at a conference for township officials in Columbus.
On Wednesday, January 30 on Old Fredericktown road a Semi truck owned by T.K. Stanely, a nation-wide trucking company that specializes in oil field services, became stuck on a steep and winding portion of the roadway. The semi truck was carrying what is refereed to as a "mud pumper unit", a large and heavy piece of equipment used in the drilling process.
Bruce Enterline who lives on Old Fredericktown road near where the incident took place attended the trustees meeting on Tuesday to voice his concerns about the incident and the overall expansion of gas and oil activities in the township. Trustees reminded Enterline that there are not yet any drilling sites within the township but noted that many gas and oil companies do come through the area frequently.
While attempting to climb a steep and windy portion of Old Fredericktown road the T.K. Stanely owned semi truck and its trailer carrying the massive piece of drilling equipment, became stuck. The bad situation became worse when the driver of the truck attempted to back down and slid off the road becoming stuck in the ditch according to Enterline, who was on scene that day. "That load was literally feet from a pole where it could of snapped that pole and dropped power lines," said Enterline adding, "A lot of people were on the ground down there and somebody could have gotten killed-It was a bad situation."
Both trustees and Enterline noted that the incident took place on a day when recent snow accumulation was melting and it had been raining off and on, making conditions particularly treacherous. Enterline reported to trustees that the incident had left the road damaged, adding that township road foreman Scott Barrett and township crews had recently finished work on the road before the incident happened putting the road in "as good of condition as its ever been in."
Enterline also advised trustees that the semi and its load, totaling a weight of approximately 80 tons crossed a small concrete bridge on Fredericktown road which is rated for 10 tons. Enterline said he was "shocked" to learn that neither crossing the bridge nor attempting to climb such a steep hill had earned the semi's driver a citation.
Trustees advised Enterline that the trucking company was being held financially responsible for all damage to the road and the lead driver, who led the semi down Old Fredericktown road was fired over the incident.
"We have a full police report on file on it and a file with the insurance company to get the road repaired so it doesn't cost the township anything," said trustee Robert Swickard. Road foreman Scott Barrett reported that county engineers have since inspected the bridge, declaring it was not damaged and is safe for continued use.
Enterline told trustees that he came before them to to get a better understanding of the township's policies regarding such incidents and urge more communication between the township and gas and oil companies. "We have to stop reckless, irresponsible behavior like this in our township," said Enterline, adding, "It's like the wild west: they (gas companies) are going everywhere and doing anything."
Trustees told Enterline that the township uses road use management agreement or (RUMA) to insure that roads are used appropriately and repaired if damaged. " This is the first incident we've had like this, but I can assure you we're not taking it lightly," said trustee James Sabatini II.
Sabatini noted that the RUMA applies to any gas and oil company who wishes to use township roads and that it is now part of the drilling permit process, meaning that companies wanting to drill will have to first agree to the terms of the agreement.