Drilling Down

Brookfield Citizens Group Files Appeal to Stop Injection Well

BROOKFIELD, Ohio – A citizens’ group has filed an appeal before the Ohio Oil and Gas Commission requesting that it reconsider an earlier decision that permits injection activity to begin at a wastewater injection well in the township.

The Brookfield Citizens Against Injection Wells, along with two residents that live near the well, filed the appeal Nov. 20, according to state documents.

Highland Field Services LLC earlier this year completed work on the first of five proposed injection wells, well No. 5, just off state Route 7 in Brookfield. In October, Oil and Gas Division chief Richard Simmers approved a Permit to Inject order so the well could begin operations.

However, appellants contend that the order to inject was “unreasonable and unlawful” and the wells pose health and safety hazards to the community, according to the filing.

Class II injection wells are used to store wastewater byproducts from oil and gas exploration and production operations. Those who oppose these wells say the wastewater is highly toxic and poses a risk to public health.

Moreover, injection wells have been linked to earthquakes in the region. The most notable of these was recorded on New Year’s Eve 2011, when a 4.0 magnitude quake hit the Mahoning Valley. That earthquake, and a series of smaller temblors that started earlier that March, were tied to an injection well operation in Youngstown.

Gloria Douglas lives at 195 Brook Drive, just 150 feet from the site and 800 feet from the No. 5 well, the appeal states. Construction at the site has “subjected her to loud and harmful noise at all hours of day and night, by causing constant vibrations in her home, and by subjecting her to odors and air pollutants,” the filing says.

Another neighbor, William Sewtelle of 6690 Merwin Chase Road, would be impacted negatively by the project because it would subject him to “air emissions and pollutants, it puts his property at risk of seismic activity and earthquakes, it has the potential to impact his water supply, it will result in unreasonable and harmful noise, and it will impact the value of his home and property,” the appeal stated.

According to the appeal, the chief “unlawfully and unreasonably” approved the permit to inject without determining whether there were unknown faults in the area, permitted the wells in an area where there is a high risk of known seismicity, and allowed the permit to go through without taking measures to ensure that spills or leaks from the site would not occur.

The filing also alleges that the chief violated federal law by approving the permit in a “manner that does not protect underground sources of drinking water.”

The appeal asks the commission to vacate the permit and “remand the matter to the chief with instructions to follow the law.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.