BRISTOL - A leak at a Mahan Denman Road oil storage tank that spilled into a nearby creek was caused on purpose, police said.
Trumbull County Sheriff's Office Maj. Thomas Stewart said Thursday that investigators have determined a valve on the well was turned on and left on, which discharged more than 1,600 gallons of crude oil onto the ground and into a nearby creek.
''Someone definitely turned the nozzle on,'' Stewart said.
Police said someone tampered with this valve at the base of an oil storage tank along Mahan Road that spilled crude oil into Snyder Creek in Bristol.
Stewart said family members have been arguing over royalties at the well, and that may have been why the valve was opened. No charges have been filed at this time.
According to a sheriff's office report, deputies on Wednesday responded to a neighbor dispute at 655 Mahan Denman Road. Deputies said they identified the parties involved as Michael Tenney, 60, of 670 Mahan Denman Road, Bristolville, and William Tenney, 48, of 405 Greenville Road, Cortland.
Deputies said the dispute was over the oil spill on the property at the 655 Mahan Denman Road. The property is owned by Percy Tenney, who was in the hospital recovering from surgery.
The leak was reported about 9:40 a.m. Wednesday and crews from the Trumbull County Hazardous Materials Team, the state Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio EPA were on the scene investigating.
The report states that William Tenney received a call from his father that something was happening at the farm and he wanted him to check it out.
William Tenney told deputies that when he arrived at the well, a valve was opened and a cap on the cover was also removed, allowing oil to drain into the pit and overflow into the adjacent creek, the report states. HazMat crews at the scene found that someone had opened the valve again, letting more oil out.
Michael Tenney then went to the property and started arguing with William Tenney that he wasn't getting free gas for his residence anymore, the report states.
A subcontractor for Parrot Energy, which leases the well, reported that there was approximately 400 gallons of oil in the tank, which is equal to 40 barrels, when he last checked the well in December. The estimated value of the oil is between $3,800 and $4,000, the report states. Percy Teneny would have received a percentage of the oil price based on his contract with Parrot.
EPA spokesman Mike Settles said a company called Chemtron is trying to clean the soil and water, but the cleanup in the water will be very slow. He said workers will be walking in the creek with absorbent pads to remove oil and they may not be done until sometime next week.
Settles said of the 1,680 gallons of crude oil spilled, about a third made it into the creek. Most of the oil that did not make it to the creek has already been cleaned up.
Will Yonker, who lives next to the well and who also has the stream run through the property, said he is concerned that if it rains, the creek will overflow and the oil in the creek can then be flooded onto the ground. He said the creek floods a lot during heavy rains because the ground is flat.
Yonker said he was told by workers at the scene that the cleanup effort in the creek will depend on a heavy rain which will wash the oil downstream and dilute it.
Settles said if charges are filed officials can also file paperwork making whoever is responsible reimburse officials for the cleanup.
Neighbors were advised to contact the Trumbull County Health Department for testing if they have any smell, color or taste in the water.