Photo Caption: Athens County, which currently has four permitted injection wells located within its borders, may see two more.
Athens County citizens who are concerned about the impacts of oil-and-gas "fracking" were scheduled to host a public event Wednesday evening on the topic of the "injection wells" in Ohio that are used to store wastewater from horizontal hydraulic fracturing operations.
Athens County, meanwhile, which currently has four permitted injection wells located within its borders, may see two more. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources reports that it has received permit applications for two wells that are now under review.
The four existing wells are located in Rome, Alexander, Canaan and Lee townships. The two new applications are for wells that would be located in Troy and Rome townships.
The existing wells range in age from 28 years to 10 years old. The deepest injection levels allowed on the four wells range from 2,500 feet below the surface to about 4,700.
For each of the four existing wells, the state records a date for the last full-blown test of its mechanical integrity, which is done after some type of well failure.
One of the four, a 24-year-old well in Canaan Township, is listed as having been subjected to such a test as recently as March of this year.
A spokesperson for ODNR said Wednesday she would locate information on the details of what prompted that test, but The Athens NEWS had not received this information as of press time.
For the other three wells, the last mechanical integrity test was done in 1994 (Lee Township), 2003 (Rome Township), and 2008 (Alexander Township).
ODNR spokesperson Heidi Hetzel-Evans noted that in the past, it was quite common for oil- and gas-producing wells in Ohio to be turned into injection wells for wastewater from vertical fracking operations, once the well went dry.
"Historically, more than half of current (injection) wells were production wells," she explained.
Lately, however, she suggested, the trend has been more toward the drilling of new wells to serve as injection wells from day one.
The two new applications come from companies called K&H Partners, LLC, and D/T/ Atha, Inc.
The first is for a site located in Troy Township, in the Hockingport area near the Ohio River, close to the eastern border of the state with West Virginia.
The second proposed new injection well site is near the eastern border of Rome Township with Washington County, near Ohio Rt. 144 north of Frost.
Meanwhile, locals concerned about fracking have invited county and federal officials to a presentation about injection wells that was set to take place Wednesday night.
The event, co-sponsored by the Athens County Fracking Action Network (ACFAN) and the Ohio University Institute for Applied and Professional Ethics, was to feature speaker Teresa Mills, from the Center for Health, Environment and Justice.
This organization has come out against Ohio's current status as one of the states that regulates its own wastewater injection wells, rather than having them regulated by the federal EPA.
Other scheduled speakers included Natalie Kruse, a hydrochemical engineering professor at OU, and Elisa Young, founder of the grassroots environmental activist group Meigs Citizen Action Now.
In a release about the event, local business owner Christine Hughes stated that a couple living near one of the current injection wells, the one in Canaan Township, have been reporting that it's currently accepting 16 to 18 truckloads per day of waste.