Brookfield objects to some brine injection wells

December 27, 2012
Shale Play


Shale Play

BROOKFIELD, Ohio - Although trustees recently passed a resolution against placing deep water injection wells in areas where residents rely on well water for consumption, they know it will have little to no real effect.

"Does it have any teeth? No," Trustee Ronald Haun said. "But it shows the residents that they have support."

Haun said trustees passed the resolution to stand with residents who were concerned that the wells may affect their water. Injection wells on properties with access to city water were not part of the resolution.

Class II disposal wells, which inject brine and other water waste from the production of oil and natural gas deep into the earth, are regulated by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The U.S. EPA has stated that injection wells are the most environmentally responsible way to dispose of the waste.

Ninety-eight percent of brine, which can be more than six times as salty at sea water, is disposed through wells, while the rest is used for de-icing roads, according to the ODNR.

According to Heidi Hetzel-Evans, ODNR Media Relations manager, the ODNR has been responsible for the wells since 1983, and there have been no cases of ground water contamination. She also said the department has one of the most stringent and comprehensive well regulations in the country.

The township's regulation faces steep opposition in actually preventing wells from being placed since the state - not townships - is given the ability to grant permits based on the Ohio Administrative Code.

Niles City Council in August passed a resolution banning the wells within city limits, following a similar resolution passed in Weathersfield Township. In regard to these resolutions, Hetzel-Evans previously stated that the ODNR would deny any permit application if the opposing community could provide convincing evidence that health, safety or an environmental resource would be directly threatened by a well.

Haun said the Brookfield resolution was filed more as a precaution. If there was even the slightest chance that the wells could contaminate residents' water, the trustees wanted to be on their side. Haun said they didn't want to see anyone's "lifetime investment ruined."

"At least they would have access to city water," Haun said. "If you don't have water, your home is useless."

Injection wells have come under recent scrutiny with their increased use to dispose of water waste from fracking. This disposal has been linked with earthquakes, most notably the series 2011 earthquakes in 2001 in the Youngstown region. A state investigation tied the series to an injection well near Salt Springs Road that was over a previously undiscovered fault line.

That well has been offline since Dec 30., one day prior to a 4.0-magnitude earthquake that shook the Mahoning Valley.

ODNR has since increased its regulation through the Ohio Administrative Code, which governs the wells, by passing several amendments in July which went into effect Oct. 1. New regulations include a geological investigation of potential fault lines and plans for monitoring seismic activity to be completed in order to receive a well permit.

Once a well is in place, it must have an automatic shut-off device and pressures must be monitored on a daily basis. Casing and tubing must be monitored monthly to ensure there are no leaks and the ODNR inspection staff will each well unannounced four to five times per year.

There are at least nine wells in Trumbull County, several of which border Portage and Mahoning counties.



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