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Wednesday, May 8,2013

City backs statewide injection-well ban

By David DeWitt

Athens City Council unanimously voted Monday night to lend its support to proposed statewide legislation that would ban the use of fracking injection wells in Ohio.

Ohio Reps. Robert Hagan, D-Youngstown, and Denise Driehouse, D-Cincinnati, have proposed the injection well ban. A similar bill has been introduced in the Ohio Senate by state Sen. Mike Skindell, D-Cleveland.

The Center for Health, Environment & Justice has said that in 2012, Ohio accepted nearly 14 million barrels of drilling wastes from oil and natural gas operations.

So far, nearly 40 local community and environmental groups have officially backed the proposed ban.

The city of Athens has joined that list. Last May the city passed a resolution making certain amendments to the city's wellhead protection plan, including provisions banning the controversial horizontal hydraulic fracturing drilling technique in that area.

In council's revisions, the first provision bans "drilling, mining, exploration and extraction operations, including but not limited to, petroleum gas and minerals," while the second bans "the storage and/or disposal of wastewater and other byproducts associated with drilling, mining, exploration and extraction operations."

On Monday, Third Ward council member Michele Papai noted the city has already sent several resolutions to the state regarding concerns about industrial waste.

"I wanted to propose tonight that we send a resolution back up to Columbus stating our support for the legislators who have proposed this type of ban," she said.

For the sake of the public's awareness, Papai said she was providing further information.

She said that during the winter meeting of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, attendees were told that in 2012 Ohio had 178 active injection wells.

In Athens County, an ad hoc county committee, formed to study the issue and report on it to the county commissioners, told the commission last November that injection wells for wastewater storage are probably a much bigger risk to the county than oil-and-gas production wells, as it's still unclear whether the drilling boom will come this far south and west. (Unconfirmed reports suggest that the big players in the deep-shale boom have cooled on Athens County's potential for development, until they see solid results in neighboring Washington County.)

Shortly after the ad hoc committee report, the ODNR approved an injection well in the Coolville area in Troy Township. This was the fifth such well operating in the county; a recently approved well for D.T. Atha, Inc., in Rome Township makes the sixth.

Papai also cited the nearly 14 million barrels of fracking waste being dumped in Ohio's injection wells last year.

"What do we know about that waste? Well, we know that there are undisclosed, highly toxic chemicals: Benzine, mercury, arsenic and radioactive radium," she said. "So in support of that legislation that was introduced last Wednesday, I suggest we as a council put forward a resolution… that we continue to suggest to our legislators in Columbus that we are very concerned about our safe drinking water."

She also noted that the city is aware that the drilling industry is exempt from federal hazardous waste standards.

"Many of the class two wells, as well, are old wells that are not up to current standards," she said further.

Reading from the resolution, Papai said, "Allowing Ohio to become a dumping ground for the waste from hydraulic fracturing will leave a toxic legacy for generations of Ohioans."

At-large council member Steve Patterson said he's in full support of the resolution for a number of reasons.

"The regulation of these injection wells is fairly lax," he said. "Inspections are every five years and a 30-minute pressure hold to satisfy the safety of these wells. So I think this is a huge concern."

He said he doesn't want to see old wells in Athens County converted into injection wells, and thereby see the area converted into a dumping ground.

Fourth Ward council member Christine Fahl noted several neighboring states already have injection well bans.

"If other states are not taking care of their own waste, then we are becoming a dumping ground," she said. "We see this type of thing in third world countries… where others are getting the monetary gain, and we are paying the long-term price."

The resolution passed with full support from council.


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At least our City Council is pursuing constitutional means this time--trying to change the controlling state law--instead of disregarding the laws of the State of Ohio by pursuing an ordinance in plain violation of state law. However, what mandate from the Athens City electorate does the City Council have to pursue this particular action on this issue? Where did the citizens of Athens speak (or have a chance) to speak on this issue? Did the City Council hold a referendum? How about a period public comments? Did any of the representatives contact their constituents to see what they thought? (Crickets chirp)

This sort of resolution that reaches beyond the borders of Athens without any apparent attempt to ascertain the will of the governed is a direct consequence of single-party controlby Democrats. What's next, Athens City Council resolutions on Syria or sequestration?



Youngstown earthquakes

The injection well, known as Northstar number 1, and owned by D&L Energy, started operating at its location on Ohio Works Drive in December 2010. Three months later, the first earthquakes ever recorded in Youngstown, started shaking the ground.

"The odds are very slim this is a coincidence,” Armbruster said.

By the end of 2011, 11 earthquakes were recorded in Youngstown, according to the Ohio Seismic Network, which monitors earthquake activity in Ohio. The most serious was a 4.0 magnitude earthquake recorded on New Year’s Eve.

Read more:


The EPA and ODNR have since acknowledged the injection wells as the cause. Given the house crushing rock, exploding gas line (do to a shift in the shale), and the recent house moving hill slides in Glouster, who in their right mine would permit injection wells around here? We are blessed that nobody has yet been killed!


rar did you miss this article?
If Youngstown is the epicenter, why did the majority not vote against fracking or injecting? Sounds like weird science to me and at least the Youngstown voters saw through it. But in Athens no vote, just Council dictate.


Yes, I saw it. I subscribe to the Vindicator. Not winning the vote, doesn't make it right. Of course, there aren't a lot of hills and such that would tumble down in an earthquake, like there are here.



The Youngstown fracking ban, defeated by their voters, and the resolution supporting a statewide ban in injection wells, are apples and oranges. Two entirely different issues. I think City Council members were confident that they were following their consituents' wills with regard to supporting a statewide injection well ban. With resolutions, which have no force or effect other than stating a city government's opinion about something, I'm comfortable with elected representatives exercising the republican form of government, and I think most voters are as well. With regard to the Athens fracking ban (similar to Youngstown's with the important exception of the "jurisdiction" wording), Athens City Council did defer to the city's voters.


Thanks for the correction, that a city law/ordinance is different than a non-binding Council resolution. Therefore the correct title of the article should be "City COUNCIL Backs Statewide Injection Well Ban" and the issue has not been taken before the voters as the opinion of the majority/the "City".



The whole earthquake protest part of anti-fracking propaganda is illogical. The underground plates/crust pieces are always in tension or compression, and the whole North American continent is moving westward about 5 cm per year. IF the injection wells release some of this tension and "cause" tiny earthquakes (that's all there's been), they are slowly releasing the tension that is building beneath us. Without such release, the tension continues to build until the earth under us produces a much larger earthquake on its own. These fracking opponents would apparently rather have massive destruction in the future.

But it does align with the prevailing attitude of liberals and Democrats--mortgage the future to feel good today.




Why don't you apply the same republican government to the abortion issue?

You mock the majority of the American people who have deep reservations about abortion for any reason and no reason at all (the Democratic Party platform and policy stance) and the nine Ohio heroes who oppose the death agenda of Planned Parenthood (Ohio Governor John Kasich, Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, Ohio Sens Faber and Seitz and Ohio Reps Amstutz, Batchelder, Maag, McClain and Wachtman). You ridicule these nine courageous leaders as "The Chastity Bunch" (your own headline).

At the same time, you laud the Athens City Council's unsupported action as fair, reasonable and in keeping with our republican form of government.

What's with that?