Brine protest in Vienna

Company: Site has been inspected

July 27, 2012
By RAYMOND L. SMITH , Shale Play

VIENNA - More than two dozen people protested July 16 outside KDA Inc. property on Sodom Hutchings Road against brine water being pumped into a former oil and gas well.

It was a display that could have been avoided, according to a company official.

Three of the protesters were taken from the site by Vienna police, but only Ron C. Shalom, 21, of Maryland, was charged with criminal trespassing and obstruction of official business.

Shalom was arrested after attaching himself to a gate to prevent tractor-trailers hauling brine water from entering the facility.

The protesters with the groups Ohio Fracktion, Frack Free Mahoning and Defenders of the Earth Outreach Mission initially tried to block the entrance of the KDA property by standing next to the company's gate.

Vienna police Chief Andrew Pecchio, working with the Trumbull County Sheriff's Office, told the protest leaders that they had to move off the property and across the road or face being arrested for trespassing.

"They have the right to express their opinion, but they cannot do it on private property," Pecchio said. "They eventually co-operated."

The group moved across the road while singing protest songs and shouting at the company's ownership.

"We are concerned about chemicals that may be in the brine water being pumped into these wells," said the Rev. Monica Beasley-Martin of Defenders of the Earth Outreach Ministry.

Beasley-Martin, who lives in Liberty, contends that there are farms growing vegetables nearby and people who still get their water from area wells.

The protesters also are concerned about a brine water spill in Fowler on July 7. Evidence of the brine water that was found at the site extended for five miles, according to Trumbull County Engineer Randy Smith, whose office was at the site that day.

Mike Settles of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency estimates the amount of brine that was spilled in Fowler was between 100 and 150 gallons. However, he added, the Ohio EPA was not notified of the spill until three days after it occurred.

"We do not believe this was significant spill," Settles said. "We tested the Ph levels and it was about 6.5, which is considered neutral."

Mathew Kleese, whose family has owned the Sodom Hutchings property since the 1940s, said KDA Inc. is placing the brine water into already existing wells.

"We are taking brine that comes up naturally from oil and gas wells," he said.

Kleese said no one has contacted him or other company officials with concerns about what the brine may be doing to other area properties.

"We would have sat down with them and explained our viewpoint," he said.

Kleese says the property is part of his family's farm and he still lives near the facility.

"We are not doing anything to risk our family's property," he said.

Kleese said the wells were placed on the property in the early 1980s, and they were still extracting oil and gas from the wells in 2011. The company began pumping brine into the two wells on the property in March.

"We are receiving brine from Pennsylvania and Ohio," Kleese said. "Right now the majority of the brine - about 60 percent - is coming from Pennsylvania, but we are receiving an increasing amount from Ohio as more wells are being dug across the state."

The company is pumping between 1,000 gallons to 1,200 gallons of brine into the wells. They plan to continue pumping brine water into the wells until they are filled to capacity and then will cap them, Kleese said.

Kleese said the heavily encased wells have been inspected by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and by Trumbull County officials.



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