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Industry responds to wastewater site concerns

Local oil and gas officials believe concerns about a proposed docking facility near Marietta are unwarranted.

If the permit is approved by the U.S. Corps of Engineers, a wastewater offloading facility will be built at DeepRock Disposal Solutions on Ohio 7 near Marietta.

In a Marietta Times article earlier this month, Devola resident George Banziger noted people are concerned with the health hazards of the proposed facility. One of the concerns is that what will be offloaded is toxic or radioactive.

Mike Chadsey, director of public relations for the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, said the brine which will be offloaded is not radioactive, according to the U.S. EPA. He said there is some confusion about the three types of oil field fluids and what will be brought to Marietta.

“I think people get things confused between drilling mud, fracking fluid and brine,” he said. Brine is what is on the permit to be hauled in.

“Brine is seawater which comes out with the oil and gas molecules,” he said. “It’s old seawater and saltier than what we have now.”

Drilling mud is used to bring the drill cuttings to the surface and cool the drill bit. That mud is recovered and reused.

There is also hydraulic fracturing fluid that is used to frack a well. It is more than 99 percent water and sand plus some chemicals, which are disclosed, to clean and lubricate the well, Chadsey said. Then there is brine, which comes up to the surface to either be recycled or injected into a class 2 well.

“We have been using class 2 wells since the mid 1980s,” he noted.

He said when the brine is offloaded, it is unloaded into above ground tanks, filtered and injected back into the ground. He said people seem to think that the brine will be shipped from all over the country, but that would be cost prohibitive. He said Ohio is a full disclosure state, so what is in the wastewater has to be disclosed.

“It will be from Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia,” Chadsey explained, noting everything is done under rules from the U.S. EPA. “And we don’t have thousands of injection wells. We have 200 here in Ohio.”

There are two types of formations – conventional and unconventional. The conventional formations are when producers drill straight down and only a small area produces oil and gas. With the unconventional formation, producers drill horizontal “like a leg going from the foot to the toe,” Chadsey said.

“The leg is where you drill down, the heel is where you go horizontal and the toe is where you stop,” he explained.

John Sutter, senior director of strategic communications for FTI Consulting, said with the unconventional, the drill bit is used to crack the rock apart to get the oil and gas.

“We drill down at least a mile,” he said. “We fracture the rock to create tiny hairline fractures in the shale. Sand helps keep the rock open to let the oil and gas out. There are layers of steel pipe and cement put in place before the oil and gas is produced.”

Wes Mossor, general manager of DeepRock Disposal Solutions LLC, was unable to speak on the record about the permit or the offloading facility.

Other resident concerns had been with the length of time and notification for the public comment period on the project.

Michele Newbanks can be reached at mnewbanks@mariettatimes.com.

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