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ODNR hosts discussion on new injection well

Photos by James Dobbs TOP: Concerned residents from all over Washington County met with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management on Thursday at the St. Ambrose Catholic Church in Little Hocking for a public meeting about the application for a new injection well in Belpre.

LITTLE HOCKING — Area elected officials and residents from all over Washington County met with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management on Thursday at the St. Ambrose Catholic Church in Little Hocking for a public meeting about the application for a new injection well in Belpre.

The division is considering an application for a proposed class II disposal well from Arrowhead Road Services LLC.

Mark Bruce, an administrative officer with the division of oil and gas, led the meeting. He presented two videos, one that provided information about injection wells and the other about the proposed injection site, before the floor was opened to the audience to hear questions and concerns, without response from the ODNR.

The second video stated that the new injection well, if approved, would be in a wooded area off Arrowhead Road, just north of U.S. 50 near the first well in Belpre. It also stated that Arrowhead Road Services LLC is proposing to dispose an average volume of 6,000 to 10,000 barrels of fluid per day.

The overall consensus of the room was for the ODNR to deny the application for the disposal well. Citizens were concerned about the effects that a new well would have on the area and the potential outcome it would cause for future generations.

Belpre Mayor Mike Lorentz showed his concern for the city at the meeting by voicing his opinion.

“If we mess it up, it’ll be messed up forever,” he said.

Joe Tucker, City Engineer of Marietta, said he and his wife live close to the Red Bird number four injection well in Vincent. Tucker said in 2019, a study was done by the ODNR that determined that the waste from that injection site migrated outside of its original disposal site. He said this site has been closed since.

“My major concern is that there are numerous hazardous compounds in the injection well fluids that may contain bromide, arsenic, strontium, mercury, barium, radioactive isotopes and other organic compounds …,” he said. “But the important thing is that there are studies that have been done that more than 75 percent of the chemicals used in fracking are associated with harm to human organs, while 25 percent are tied to cancer and other genetic mutations.”

Margaret Meyer, concerned citizen, wondered if there would be a limit to the brine injected in Washington County.

“This waste poses a threat. It poses a threat to us, to our children and to our future. And I am sorely worried about that,” she said. “And in particular, I’m offended that we are not only pouring this damaging waste from Ohio, but that we’re also taking it from Pennsylvania and West Virginia.”

Betsy Cook, concerned citizen, said in 2019 Washington County had the second highest level of injection activity in Ohio. She said 8.1 million barrels were injected that year, with half of the barrels coming from West Virginia and Pennsylvania. She said Pennsylvania has only nine injection wells, compared to Ohio’s 226 wells, 13 of which are in Washington County.

“The oil and gas industry calls it brine. Back in the beginning oil and gas drilling meant saltwater brine and today it means chemically laced wastewater …,” she said.

At the end of the meeting, Bruce said the comments would be reviewed and included in the comment file of the application for the injection well. He said there will not be a follow-up meeting and responses will be posted on the ODNR website as well as emailed to those who provided an email at the meeting. He said if the permit for the injection well gets approved, it will be posted on the website. He said there is no defined time for how long this process will take.

James Dobbs can be reached at jdobbs@newsandsentinel.com.

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