Lots of questions, no answers at ODNR open house on injection wells

By Mike sever | staff writer Published:

People traveled to Wingfoot Lake State Park Thursday evening to learn about seven proposed waste injection wells in Nelson and Windham townships. Instead they got information about the history of gas and oil drilling in Ohio and the processes of how Class II injection wells are constructed, inspected and operated.

Portage County Commissioner Kathleen Chandler got applause when, during a question-and-answer session, she asked "What I want to know is what's happening in Portage County, specifically in Nelson."

Attendees are concerned about wells proposed for property owned by Dale Soinski which sits astride the Nelson-Windham township line.

The 50 or so attendees also were surprised to see 14 armed ODNR police officers inside and outside of the Pine Tree Lodge at the park in Suffield.

Several people commented on the show of force. Gail Cole of Suffield said she felt intimidated by the sight. "Seeing that, it riles you up," she said.

Donald Fisher, who said he was waiting for his 83rd birthday this July 4, said he had "never been to a public meeting so over supplied with armed people."

Asked about the police presence, an ODNR spokesman said it was in response to a similar public information meeting held in Athens County last November when about a hundred protestors converged on the open house. ODNR didn't know what to expect for Thursday's meeting in Portage County.

Tom Tomastik, ODNR lead geologist for the injection well regulatory program, gave a history of oil and gas production in Ohio, spoke about the different classes of injection wells and their construction, inspection and safety record. He explained how fluids from well drilling, from fracturing and production must be moved by registered haulers and how they must keep logs of how much fluid they pump and which wells they use.

Tomastik said, with new regulations approved last year, Ohio is now the most stringent state in regard to regulating injection wells.

"Hands down, we are far more stringent than the federal government," he said.

Mary Greer, a member of Concerned Citizens Portage County, said there were scientists in the audience who could give "pretty much the opposite" view of the safety of wells.

"There are plenty of documented problems" with failure of cementing the three steel casings that surround the well bore.

Dr. Ralph Cebulla from Hiram suggested that a chemical analysis should be done on each shipment of well waste water before it is injected to see "if it more closely resembles toxic industrial waste," which would not be injected into a Class II saltwater injection well.

Trish Harness of Garrettsville questioned if ODNR has ever permitted injection wells that "are literally on top of horizontal well laterals."

"Does ODNR think it's a good idea to have injection wells so close to fracking wells?" she asked.

Lori Babbey of Paris noted the proposed Soinski wells are within 500 feet of Eagle Creek, a high quality water source, and questioned "How does ODNR plan to protect Eagle Creek?"

ODNR officials promised to post answers to all the submitted questions on its web site, but did not specify when that would be done.

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1125

or msever@recordpub.com

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  • Wow, 14 armed ODNR thugs, Yes, those folks that want clean water, the are dangerous. Maybe Governor Kasick will activate the Ohio National Guard for the next meeting