A woman protesting an Athens County injection well by locking her arms in concrete-filled barrels voluntarily released herself at about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Madeline Fitch was handcuffed and placed in a cruiser to be taken to the Athens County Sheriff's Office. Sheriff's Capt. Bryan Cooper said Fitch will be charged with misdemeanor counts of trespassing and obstructing official business, and a felony count of inducing panic.
Cooper said the felony charge is a result of the large amount of resources which had to be utilized because of the incident, including flying in an Ohio Highway Patrol Special Response Team from Columbus to free her from the barrels.
When the special response team arrived, she voluntarily released herself rather than risk getting injured, Cooper said.
The woman forced the closure of an injection well owned by Carper Oil and Gas on Ladd Ridge Road in Athens County. An employee of the company came to work Tuesday morning to find her blocking the driveway, handcuffed between two 55-gallon barrels filled with concrete, and her hands inserted into holes in the side.
Fitch said she was concerned about the environmental impacts of the well, which has been in operation since 1988.
Initially responding to the scene were Athens County Sheriff's Office, Ohio Highway Patrol, and the Albany Fire Department. The fire department erected a canopy over the woman to protect her from the sun, and she was given water.
The sheriff's office was stopping reporters from getting close enough to interview her, but Fitch called out a message: "I want to stop this from happening," she said, referring to the disposal of oil and gas drilling waste into the well.
She was accompanied by about a dozen other protesters who were displaying a large banner that said, "Toxic Frack Waste - We Don't Want It."
The woman also said, "This is not an abstract issue, it is a matter of life and death. This is a crisis waiting to happen."
A representative of Carper Oil and Gas, Smitty Vandall, said the well follows state regulations.
"We are not doing anything unsafe," he said. "Everything the state tells us to do, we do it."