300 Gallons Of Clay, Water Spilled In Radnor Lake State Park - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

300 Gallons Of Clay, Water Spilled In Radnor Lake State Park

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A utility cleaned up a drilling slurry spill at a state natural area where it is laying a gas pipeline.

Piedmont Natural Gas spokesman David Trusty said on Tuesday the company regrets the spill and worked with state environmental officials to remove about 300 gallons of a clay mixture from Otter Creek in the Radnor Lake Natural Area.

According to Piedmont, the material they were drilling with was a mixture of bentonite clay and water.

"Bentonite clay is a naturally occurring substance that's non-toxic, non-hazardous to humans," Trusty said.

A crew of 50 people worked since Saturday to clean up the spill by hand. They finished Tuesday night.

State officials are investigating. They believe there could still be a fine layer across the creek's bed, which could impact the environment.

"It's non-toxic, but what it can do is affect the macroinvertebrates of the stream. When I say macroinvertebrates I mean the insects and the crayfish," said Ann Morbitt with the Tennessee Department of Environmental and Conservation Water Services Division.

Radnor advocate Clark Tidwell, a longtime Nashville attorney, said the mishap is what environmentalists feared when Piedmont got permission to cross the preserve.

An incident report from Piedmont stated the hydraulic pressure of boring was too great for soft soil conditions to withstand.

Trusty said the utility's crews will create a release pit close to the drill, examine water quality daily and physically inspect the area to keep it from repeating. Project leaders indicated they were happy their plan to fix and clean up the area worked so well.

Piedmont must submit an incident report by Thursday before TDEC will allow drilling to resume.

Once completed the gasline expansion will give Piedmont 14.5 miles of new pipe. Roughly one third is being drilled, like what is happening near Radnor Lake.

(The Associated Press Contributed To This Report.)

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