than a week after an Athens County woman was arrested for peaceably protesting
at an injection well site in Alexander Township that accepts wastewater from
oil-and-gas drilling, a news conference in Columbus will publicize what a state
representative from Youngstown suggests are disturbing test results on the
"brine" that's going into this and other wells.
state Rep. Bob Hagan will not appear at the conference, which apparently is
being organized by Ohio Fracktion, an environmental group that has raised
concerns about the impacts of horizontal hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas,
including the disposal of wastewater from the process. Hagan stressed Sunday
that while the news conference in Columbus Monday was not his idea and he's not
involved in it, he does harbor strong concerns about how carefully the state is
regulating the liquid that goes into its injection wells.
(the state) is not testing, (drilling companies) can throw anything into it,"
May, Hagan sent a letter to Gov. John Kasich and Jim Zehringer, director of the
Ohio Department of Natural Resources. In the letter, the legislator expressed
"serious concerns" about the fact that ODNR, despite having the legal authority
to do so, apparently does not test the drilling wastewater that's put
underground into Ohio injection wells, from sites both in Ohio and in nearby
states such as Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
was the last time ODNR tested the makeup of brine and other fracking waste?"
Hagan asked in his letter. "Why are the concerns of Ohioans being ignored by
their own government?" He urged the administration to examine the test results
he claims to have from a brine sample, and to "make public" ODNR's inspection process
for the state's injection wells.
news conference scheduled to take place on the Statehouse steps in Columbus at
10 a.m. today will publicize such concerns. The event will feature appearances
by citizens from Athens and Morgan counties, including 31-year-old Madeline
ffitch (correct lower-case "f"), who was arrested last week during an act of
civil disobedience at an injection well on Ladd Ridge Road in Alexander
made statewide news after she secured herself to two concrete-filled barrels,
to block truck access to the site. Police and firefighters responded in force
to the scene, and after several hours of negotiation, ffitch agreed to release
herself from the barrels. She was arrested and charged with inducing panic, a
low-level felony; however, authorities have stated that they may try to force
her to pay restitution for the cost of the large official response to her
of the issues raised by protesters like ffitch is their claim that state
regulators in Ohio simply don't monitor the contents of the "brine" that's
going into the injection wells to see how dangerous it is. Ohio Fracktion
claims in a news release that somehow – the release doesn't specify how – a
sample of brine was obtained from an "open pit" at the well site where ffitch
staged her protest.
of the brine, the release alleges, showed it to contain "alpha particles,"
indicative of radioactivity, as well as arsenic, barium, toluene and other
toxic chemicals. The news release does not indicate what concentrations these
substances were allegedly found in, but does quote a biology professor from
Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia, Ben Stout, who claims that the
brine qualifies to be classified as hazardous waste.
said Sunday that he doesn't know, and doesn't want to know, how the sample was
obtained, "because it was done surreptitiously."
Friday, an employee of Carper Well Service, which owns the well site where
ffitch had her protest, repeated his claims that the state adequately regulates
such wells, and that the Alexander Township well on Ladd Ridge Road accepts
only non-hazardous "brine" that flows back from drilling operations.
"Smitty" Vandall, of the Marietta-based
Carper, said he believes protesters like ffitch are simply ignorant about what
goes into such wells.
don't know what's going on," he said. "All they have to do is do the research."
an interview on the day of ffitch's arrest, Heidi Hetzel-Evans, who works in
the ODNR's communications department, insisted that Ohio's regulation of the
oil and gas industry is tighter than most other states, and that recent
legislation makes it even more strict.
said this particular injection well, known as the Ginsburg well, has been in
operation since 1984, and was inspected less than two weeks ago, on June 13. At
that time, she said, the 3,161-foot-deep well was "fully in