Drilling Down

Trustee Anxious over Start of Vienna Injection Well

VIENNA TOWNSHIP, Ohio – A company that acquired an inactive salt-water injection well near the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport has appealed to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to begin waste disposal operations there, much to the chagrin of a township trustee.

“If they permit this, the state is gambling,” said the trustee, Phil Pegg. “Do they want to jeopardize the 1,000 jobs at the air base? Do they want to jeopardize the economy of this Valley on the chance that it might be OK?”

Oklahoma-based KTCA has petitioned the state to start injecting waste into the well, which stores contaminated water leftover from hydraulic fracturing operations and oil and gas production.

Pegg said he opposes starting the well for two reasons: First, earthquakes in Ohio have been linked to injection wells and the KTCA well is just 800 feet from the airport runway. “It’s 6.7 miles away from the American Waste well and 8.1 miles from the D&L well in Youngstown. Both were linked to earthquakes,” he said.

In 2011, the Youngstown area was rocked by a series of earthquakes, the largest a tremor on New Year’s Eve that registered 4.0 on the Richter scale.

Second, he pointed out, traffic along state Route 193 is increasing as new developments take hold at the airport and an injection well nearby would only increase the likelihood of accidents.

“In the summer of 2013, there were four brine trucks that hit cars at the corner of Sodom-Hutchings Road and state Route 82,” Pegg noted. Warren-based KDA owned an injection well nearby, but that well was ordered shut down after another KDA well was determined to have contaminated a pond and stream in the township.

KTCA purchased the airport well from KDA last year, and filed papers with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Aug. 3 to start injection at the well, said ODNR spokesman Eric Heis.

“They’ve requested a chief’s order to authorize injection, but before they can request that they have to have everything perfect in state law,” he said. “They have to make sure they are up to par and have the engineers and geologists check it out.”

That process is in motion now, he said

Heis added that one of the conditions before injection activities could begin is ensuring that proper seismic monitors are installed at the site, along with six months of geological background data. “Ohio’s regulations are among the best in the country,” he said.

KDA applied for a new well permit in 2013, which included a public-comment period. Comments, Heis said, are encouraged and the public can learn more through ODNR’s public comments section on its web page.

“We always welcome and value public input,” he said.

As of now, no injection wells are operating in Vienna Township, Pegg said. Five of KDA’s wells were shut down and another is capped. KTCA’s well is also inactive, and the trustee is concerned it could come online anytime.

Pegg has asked residents to send letters to the state, the Western Reserve Port Authority and to the offices of state and local officials in which they express their concerns about the well.

“We’ve been the guinea pig for the state of Ohio,” Pegg declared. “Our residents are paying for their services and nothing is coming back to the townships while the state is gambling with our airport.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.