Friday, January 6, 2012

Mayor seeks injection-wells moratorium

State Sen. Joe Schiavoni calls for public hearing in Valley
Published: 1/4/12 @ 12:05

By David Skolnick


Mayor Charles Sammarone will ask city-council members today to support a moratorium on injection wells in Youngstown after the 11th earthquake in the past 10 months shook the city.

Saturday?s earthquake, like the 10 others since March 17, 2011, was centered close to a D&L Energy Inc. brine-injection well. The quake came one day after the state told D&L to cease operations at the well on Ohio Works Drive that state officials and others say likely caused all 11 incidents, with magnitudes of 2.1 to 2.8.

It?s up to the state to impose moratoriums, but Sammarone said he wants city officials to officially voice their concerns.

After Saturday?s quake, the largest of the 11 with a 4.0 magnitude, the state also ordered D&L to keep four inactive wells, within a five-mile radius of the Ohio Works well, closed.

The moratorium won?t be lifted ?until we can do a deeper, thorough analysis,? said Rob Nichols, spokesman for Gov. John Kasich. ?There is no time frame. They will not go back on line until we can rule out? the connection between the well and the earthquakes.

The well injects brine, a byproduct of fracking, about 9,300 feet into the ground. D&L isn?t fracking at the location.

Fracking is a process in which water, chemicals and sand are blasted into rocks thousands of feet underground to extract natural gas and oil. Injection wells are the opposite ? it uses the fluid left over from fracking and injects it deep into the ground.

Sammarone invited state Rep. Robert F. Hagan, who?s called for a moratorium on the wells for several months, to discuss the issue Tuesday.

?There?s too many questions that are unanswered,? Sammarone said of the wells. ?This particular well is creating problems. People feel unsafe. My whole neighborhood felt [Saturday?s earthquake]. I thought my house was going down. Stuff fell off the shelves, and the whole house shook. I?m going to take out earthquake insurance.?

?The state took over drilling, and we?re not kept informed,? he said. ?I?ve gotten more information in the past two days from The Vindicator on this than I have from anyone else.?

Sammarone, a Democrat, wants council to support a moratorium of about 30 days on injection wells in the city so the state and experts can investigate this issue and determine if the well is causing the earthquakes.

Sammarone wants officials with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to meet with city council?s public utilities committee next week to discuss the issue.

Councilman Michael Ray, D-4th, chairman of council?s public utilities committee, said he supports a moratorium.

?We need a study to see if this well is the cause of 11 earthquakes,? he said. ?It would be good for ODNR to give us a better understanding of this.?

Kasich, a Republican, says 177 deep-injection wells have operated in the state for decades without any problems.

Terry Fleming, executive director of the Ohio Petroleum Council, a trade association, said ?a situation like the one in question [in] Youngstown is very rare.?

Fleming praised ODNR for acting ?with appropriate due caution when ordering a suspension? of the well activity in light of the earthquakes. He also pointed out that there aren?t problems with other injection wells in Ohio.

Fleming also said there?s a major difference between injection wells and fracking, and that there is no evidence connecting the latter to earthquakes.

For its part, Warren-based Patriot Water Treatment LLC issued a statement Tuesday night claiming it had ?documented the earthquakes and potential causes in a meeting on Oct. 6 and identified methods that would reduce the possibility of earthquakes,? adding, ?numerous industry leaders, elected officials and USEPA attended the meeting.?

Patriot treats low-salinity, high total-dissolved-solids water from fracking, but its brine-water permit is set to expire next month, and OEPA has said it will not renew it on the basis that ?brine,? in its broad definition, cannot be disposed of through waste-water treatment plants.

Noting it had ?operated without incident for over a year? Patriot reiterated it ?only accepts only low-salinity water from oil and natural gas drilling sites? and contrasted its process with injection wells.

?Patriot?s innovative process cleans, filters, and treats the water, making it safe for re-introduction into Ohio?s surface water system,? according to the statement. ?In contrast, injection wells [between 4,000 to 10,000 feet deep] are anchored in porous stone where untreated water can be permanently disposed.?

Hagan, of Youngstown, D-60th, said he wants the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and independent geologists and seismologists to investigate injection wells and fracking to see if they?re safe.

?I?m not against drilling, but we?re moving too fast,? Hagan said.

Also, state Sen. Joe Schiavoni, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Energy and Public Utility Committee, called Tuesday for the Ohio Senate to hold a public hearing in the Mahoning Valley with ODNR and Ohio EPA officials on injection wells and the potential connection to the earthquakes.

?I spoke with many residents over the holiday weekend who are very concerned for the safety of their family, homes, and property,? said Schiavoni, of Canfield, D-33rd. ?These are legitimate concerns that must be addressed in a timely manner.?

David Betras, an attorney and Mahoning County Democratic Party chairman, said the earthquakes and the likelihood that the injection well caused them could result in a class-action lawsuit.

None of the earthquakes caused significant damage, but D&L officials knew the potential connection and didn?t stop injecting at the well even after several quakes occurred, he said.

Posted by UnionForever (anonymous) on January 4, 2012 at 6:33 a.m.

ODNR is the the pockets of the Big Oil & Gas Companies. This is the same ODNR that said after 10 quakes, it's not the injection wells. We need an independent study to determine the cause of these earthquakes by non-industry experts and educators.

Posted by ytownsteelman (anonymous) on January 4, 2012 at 6:53 a.m.

To a lawyer, every problem just looks like another lawsuit. Hasn't Betras caused enough damage to this valley already?

Posted by johnyoung (anonymous) on January 4, 2012 at 7:23 a.m.

This is a perfect example of the overall lack of due diligence exercised by the former mayor Jay Williams administration. Although the Vindicator keeps referencing D&L energy, North Star disposal is its spin-off company that was given economic development incentives and tax abatements to locate this ill placed disposal facility within the city's Ohio Works industrial park. This is just an awful location for such a facility for any number of reasons other than the potential for seismic disturbances. Its proximity to the Mahoning River introduces the potential for leaching and accidental spills into the river. While Youngstown Officials may not care about water quality, the Mahoning River is a source of drinking water for downstream Ohio and PA communities.

Again, the Vindicator staff needs to look a little bit past the tips of their noses and inform the public about just how this facility was encouraged by the Y-town economic development idiots to locate in this area. I wonder if they've even met their job creation requirements that were a condition of their economic development agreement?

Posted by Attis (anonymous) on January 4, 2012 at 11:05 a.m.

How Fracking Caused an Ohio Earthquake

Posted by VINDYAK (anonymous) on January 4, 2012 at 11:31 a.m.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania got it right when they evicted the fracking fluids out of their state. Unfortunately, they sent it all to Ohio.

Posted by Bigben (anonymous) on January 4, 2012 at 11:43 a.m.

Good posts folks. I like the comment on tax abatement - what a slap in the face to our community. We aren't good enough for your corporation to pay taxes and you get to ship in poison water that doesn't even have to list the chemicals involved.

Think of all the fresh water they are taking out of circulation. Desalinization isn't cheap enough for the corporations to implement now into the fracking process here what makes us think it would be if we needed drinking water.We are less than animals to them it is obvious.

Food for thought , perhaps the gas will be going to China as the peasant farmers are being relocated into cities they need the gas.This has nothing to do with Independence from other nations as we don't use natural gas to drive our cars.

If they and the politicians were so concerned about independence then why do we have all these horrible trade agreements that have made us dependent on China and other countries? I smell rats.

Posted by Jessiedavid (anonymous) on January 4, 2012 at 12:25 p.m.

A recent Vindy article that raises some VERY important unanswered questions...
'D & L faced violations in the past'

an excerpt...
"..a Vindicator investigation conducted prior to the well shutdown Friday and Saturday?s magnitude-4.0 earthquake revealed the company has a history of at least 120 violations at 32 injection and extraction wells in Ohio and Pennsylvania during the past decade."

And, some very important information from a recent Columbus Dispatch article...

And excerpt...
"The well?s owner, Northstar Disposal Services LLC, which agreed to stop injecting brine into the well on Friday, applied for and received licensing under the Strickland administration, Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said. The No. 1 well has been active since December, 2010, according to Nichols."


Posted by WHATSSHAKIN (anonymous) on January 4, 2012 at 12:32 p.m.

THE BIG QUESTION IS, were there any violations at this injection site?

Posted by Bigben (anonymous) on January 4, 2012 at 12:46 p.m.

@Jessiedavid - - -I mentioned in a past post that these folks have deep pockets and I think we can agree that the former and present administrations were friendly towards drilling.Good work on finding out when the injecting began.

@WHATSSHAKIN - - -We may never know that answer definitively if you know what I mean.At this point I think the state is saying no evidence of that yet.

We do know that the state expert(s) is saying that it is likely with the circumstantial evidence at this point that the injection site may have caused the quakes.That came out recently on Yahoo.

Posted by Jessiedavid (anonymous) on January 4, 2012 at 12:48 p.m.

THE BIG QUESTION IS, were there any violations at this injection site?

We might never know, but what we do know is, the company that caused the earthquakes IS DEFINITELY, NOT TRUSTWORTHY.

Posted by Bigben (anonymous) on January 4, 2012 at 12:50 p.m.


Posted by Jessiedavid (anonymous) on January 4, 2012 at 12:55 p.m.


If we can get the politicians to STOP being self serving by taking pay offs, and do what they are elected to do, the serious problems exisiting with extracting the oil WILL BE solved.

If politicians would stop taking pay offs, big business would also begin doing the morally right things, because then they would be forced to.

Posted by WHATSSHAKIN (anonymous) on January 4, 2012 at 1:11 p.m.

Past growing pains are not the issue here. Everything in this world evolves on trial and error. With this injection well they have spent their money and tried as mandated by the state. Now what standards have been compromised at this injection site?

Posted by rjbook (anonymous) on January 4, 2012 at 1:23 p.m.

We the voters need to throw these selfserving politicians out of office, NOW! We the people need to boycott companies that do not do bussiness the way they need to. The Governor of Pa. has taken 1.6 million dollars so far for his campaign funding. Pushed through laws in Pa. that take the rights away from local governments and let these oil companies do as they please. Will not put a tax on oil He has cut budgets for all of education state wide. He has cut budgets to the dept. that over see drilling in this Commonwealth. They need to change there thinking or we in the state of Pa. need to change from a commonwealth to gas companywealth. I always think when I see an ad on TV or in print about how gas companies are the greatest thing. I get a sick feeling.Maybe it just coming from the earthquakes.

Posted by Bigben (anonymous) on January 4, 2012 at 1:25 p.m.

"If we can get the politicians to STOP being self serving by taking pay offs, and do what they are elected to do, the serious problems exisiting with extracting the oil WILL BE solved.

If politicians would stop taking pay offs, big business would also begin doing the morally right things, because then they would be forced to."- - -I'm not hopeful on the politicians holding the big boys' feet to the fire.I have studied too much history.Most of the reading I have done on what is being extracted is gas not so much oil by comparison in the valley to date.

I never heard of these problems growing up with earth quakes and poisoned water ect I think old methods or better methods are in order as well.It may cost more.As it stands right now the process of extracting gas and injecting the waste water is very problematic.If a safe method isn't doable for shale than alternate energy sources need to be developed or sought out. I mean we put a man on the moon in 69.

Posted by Bigben (anonymous) on January 4, 2012 at 1:30 p.m.

I'll tell you guys what is additionally disgusting is when corporations get slapped on the hand to make it look good and simply change their name and go right along with business as usual.So many loopholes.

You vote out one set of crooks and in comes the next.Money has been buying both parties for years.Sad but true.there are usually a few good folks in there along with the prostitutes.

Posted by Bigben (anonymous) on January 4, 2012 at 1:34 p.m.

Apologies for some of my grammatical errors today.

Posted by WHATSSHAKIN (anonymous) on January 4, 2012 at 2:28 p.m.

Now what standards have been compromised at this injection site?

Posted by Jessiedavid (anonymous) on January 4, 2012 at 3:02 p.m.

"Now what standards have been compromised at this injection site?"

It's tme for all of us to do some on-line research about the KNOWN FOR A LONG TIME fault line, that goes somehow, somewhere through the Mahoning Valley all the way to Lake Erie.

We've had earthquakes in past decades, SO KNOWING there was a chance for even a slight quake should have AUTOMATICALLY STOPPED all the well drilling.

And in this case it was the STRICKLAND administration that conveniently over looked that MOST IMPORTANT fact.

Posted by Jessiedavid (anonymous) on January 4, 2012 at 3:30 p.m.

The following is a site that has a lot of IMPORTANT information about why well permits should NOT be issued in NE Ohio, and especially to companies who have 120 VIOLATIONS....

The STRICKLAND administration should be held accountable for issuing the permit to #1 well, but we all know that's not the reason we are now hearing from the self serving democrat heros, like Bob "Kiss my union a$$" Hagan.

He doesn't care that the Strickland administration fooled/failed the MAHONING VALLEY in such a non caring, violating way, Buckwheat Bob only cares that his name is in the head lines for stating under circumstances that PROVE that well should never have been issued, that it's WRONG for it to be there.

AND Buckwheat Bob also knows, it would have taken very little research for the Strickland administration to find that fact ON-LINE.

Posted by Jessiedavid (anonymous) on January 4, 2012 at 3:53 p.m.

This map serves FOR a good argument that
injection wells should ALL be OUT-LAWED...

Posted by Bigben (anonymous) on January 4, 2012 at 4:01 p.m.

How many wells were permitted under Kasich? You may not like Hagan for his union views some may like him for those reasons. However, to lay the blame on the earth quakes isn't right.He has been pretty vocal in opposition to the drilling as have I and many others here.

Posted by Bigben (anonymous) on January 4, 2012 at 4:02 p.m.

I agree with you about the wells being outlawed .

Posted by Jessiedavid (anonymous) on January 4, 2012 at 4:35 p.m.

I will try to find how many wells have been permitted under Kasich, because regarding these EXTREMELY important issues it's time to let the world know what our politicians are actually doing.

Hagan is like most politicians self serving, and he's owned and operated by unions. And by his own admission, he only represents unions, because we on the other side who had legitimate complaints about public employee unions, were told by Hagan, to "kiss his union ass", so we know positively he can't be trusted when it comes to dealing with businesses, unless of course there's something in it for him, or in this case for his buddy Strickland, who should have allowed for the fact that the owner of #1 well had 120 violations in 32 wells, and therefore should have said "NO" to the well permit.

I HOPE even the paid off republicans would use those violation figures as standards to say "NO", no matter how much the reward for saying "YES."

In spite of all the scary news, and all that's wrong, I found some good news, with HOPE for a better way, from the Warren Tribune regarding NOT using wells to dispose of the waste water....

Some excerpts regarding #1 well...

"A huge economic loss for the operator, on the other hand the public has to have faith in the regulation process and nobody wants their house shaking. We have the public welfare to think about."

Likewise, Marcellus Shale Coalition Spokesman Travis Windle said the closure of any one well will have little to no impact on those using it for waste disposal.

"Marcellus Shale operators are near a 100 percent recycle rate in Pennsylvania," he said. "There has been a fundamental sea change in how water is managed."

He said that while Ohio injection wells accept as much as 1 million gallons of brine water waste per day, that represents less than .05 percent of the total nationwide volume for class II injection wells.

For the brine that cannot be recycled, Windle said the producers keep it stored on site in tanks or retention ponds until it can be shipped out.

Windle's assertions, in turn, bolster claims by a Warren company that treating brine water is preferable to storing it in underground.

Patriot Water Treatment of Warren has contended in recent months that its means of brine treatment would be preferable to deep well injection.

Posted by johnyoung (anonymous) on January 4, 2012 at 5:31 p.m.

The injection well in question on Ohio Works Drive was permitted under the Strickland Administration

Posted by WHATSSHAKIN (anonymous) on January 4, 2012 at 6:37 p.m.

Jessiedavid ,

Well then, since we had many quakes let's stop all drilling and run VM Star out of town since we will have no need for them. I'm sure that we'll have Bob Hagan's support.


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