The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

January 30, 2014

Residents drill experts, officials

Public skeptical of injection well explanations

BROOKFIELD — Some 70 Brookfield Township residents Wednesday night peppered geologists, industry experts and township trustees with questions about the safety and potential long-term impact of a proposed saltwater injection well that’s about to be drilled on McMullen Road and state Route 7.

The well will be used to pump about 1,200 barrels a day of fracking wastewater from Pennsylvania down deep into the earth, where geologists and drillers insist it will safely disperse into porous rock. The two zones where it will be pumped lie miles below the water table, where drinking water comes from, and also below an impermeable layer of granite that will prevent it from escaping, according to Bob Barnett, president of American Energy in Cortland, Ohio, the company granted a permit to drill the 8,500-foot well.

Lindell Bridges, a geologist and president of Pure Earth Resources Inc. of Sharpsville, gave the audience a mini-geology lesson, discussing the rock formations underground and the likelihood of earthquakes as they relate to oil and gas drilling.

Barnett said that while the issue of drilling a well tends to become an emotional one, particularly if people are basing their opinions on misinformation, he acknowledged that the alleged bad practices of D&L Energy have also tainted the public’s perception.

D&L is accused of causing a series of earthquakes in the Youngstown area in 2012, due in large part, Barnett said, by ignoring warning signs that the well was not taking in water as it should. “That guy ignored the high pressure warnings and didn’t treat it. He drilled down into granite, where he wasn’t allowed to, and it wouldn’t take the water and he kept right on pumping it in anyway. Those were man-made problems. The state knows that and they shut it down. And folks, he’s going to jail,” Barnett said.

He assured residents he would pump well below the pressures authorized by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and do it quietly and safely, meeting and exceeding state regulations. “I’m not worried about an earthquake. Not in the least,” he said.

As far as contamination, Barnett said, people have more to fear from the salt spread on the roads during winter, pesticides used by farmers, acid from coal mines, leaky septic systems and garbage seeping from landfills harming the drinking water than from the saltwater brine. “We’re going to pump it deep down into the earth, nowhere near drinking water. It won’t hurt anything,” he said.

Barnett also said he would not be building an open pit to hold the wastewater before it was pumped. “No, absolutely not. That’s a whole other set of problems.”

Catherine Kasiewcz, who lives across the street from the proposed site, wasn’t convinced. “I’m not against this economic boom that they say is coming. But I am against the location of this well. It’s right near our water tower, a half a mile from the school. What are you going to do to prevent an earthquake? And if there’s an earthquake, who’s going to pay for the damage? Do you want to live in my house then?”

Barnett said if there is an earthquake, even a tremor, “I’ll shut it down right now. Because something is wrong.” He said he’s operated similar wells in other parts of Ohio with no problems at all.

Another man, who identified himself as Joe, said, “I’m not against drilling. I’m against it being a half-mile from the school. I have children. Do you have children? You are locating this in the wrong place. This is greed for the almighty dollar, that’s what this is. It’s all about greed. Man is killing himself. We have all this autism now and what will we have 15 or 20 years from now? Toxic-well children?”

Dr. Ray Biersdorfer, a geologist at Youngstown State University, said he has multiple concerns about the validity of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources being the final authority on issuance of permits, because ODNR gets money for each gallon of wastewater dumped in Ohio.

“It’s a clear conflict of interest for them to be a regulatory agency while receiving revenue from that source,” he said. He said it was “evident” that drilling practices, however inept, caused the earthquakes in Youngstown, and yet ODNR wouldn’t agree that there was problem until more than 13 earthquakes took place.

“We were here for 250 years without an earthquake, and 13 days after they start drilling, we have an earthquake. Now that’s certainly a testable hypothesis, but they wouldn’t test it,” he said.

Other residents expressed concerns about dropping property values, as well as safety risks. “You got all these trucks coming over here now and all it takes is one minor accident and we’ve got a big problem,” one man said.

Another resident asked the trustees what benefit the well would be to Brookfield. “Is there something in it for us? Is there some reason we should favor this?”

Trustee Gary P. Lees said he’s been asking himself the same question. “I know that the state gets their share of revenue from this, but what about the townships? What do we get?”

The three-man board acknowledged, however, that they are powerless when it comes to stopping the drilling. “For that, you have to talk to your legislators. They make the laws. We don’t.”


Text Only
Local News
  • GC pair not hurt in accident injuring 2

    Two drivers were taken to a hospital after an accident at the intersection of state routes 965 and 173 in Worth Township, police said.

    July 21, 2014

  • WaterFire crowds WaterFire doused

    Sharon’s WaterFire wasn’t lacking either of its elements on Saturday. There was steady, day-long rain but the day concluded with the Shenango River ablaze.

    July 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • ‘Starved’ boy released from hospital

    A 7-year-old boy allegedly starved and beaten by his mother is out of the hospital and ordered out of his Greenville home by Mercer County Common Pleas President Judge Thomas R. Dobson.

    July 20, 2014

  • WaterFire walking tour Time traveling

    A group of more 50 people walked between the raindrops Saturday during an historical tour of downtown Sharon during the city’s WaterFire celebration.

    July 20, 2014 6 Photos 1 Story

  • News briefs from July 19, 2014

    Michigan man charged with assaulting girl here

    Sharon man charged with raping woman

    July 19, 2014

  • For sale Realty transfer tax hike headed for ballot

    Sharon voters will be deciding through a referendum whether city council can raise the realty transfer tax. Council gave first reading Thursday to an ordinance that phrases the question that will be printed on the November ballot.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bella recovering Vet: Dog lucky to be alive, should survive

    Although a veterinarian said an underweight dog found Thursday with a gruesome neck wound was lucky to be alive, her prognosis for recovery is good.

    July 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • Alleged hit-run driver arrested

    Sharon police said Friday afternoon they had arrested a man believed to have driven a vehicle that struck an 11-year-old boy Thursday and left the scene.

    July 19, 2014

  • Boy ‘was being starved’

    A 7-year-old Greenville boy described as looking like a human skeleton had been starved and beaten by his mother for a year, authorities are saying.

    July 19, 2014

  • Corruption case puts ex-youth leader in rehab program

    The former commander of the local Civil Air Patrol squadron has been admitted into a diversionary program to resolve a criminal case, but the conditions of the program all but forbid his involvement with CAP, his attorney said.

    July 18, 2014

  • GACT’s ‘Steel Magnolias’ opens tonight at Thiel

    Beauty parlor gossip, southern drawls and big hair may sound out of place for Mercer County, but it’s very much a real scene in Thiel College’s William Robinson Theater.

    July 18, 2014

  • Police seek hit-and-run driver who struck boy

    A boy riding a Mongoose bike on Second Avenue in Sharon Thursday evening was struck straight on by a truck whose driver never hit the brakes or looked back, witnesses said.

    July 18, 2014

  • No news on police force

    More than 70 residents gathered at the Shenango Township meeting to hear news on the future of the Southwest Regional Police Department.

    July 18, 2014

  • Onlooker, 87, hit by Aqua truck, dies

    Aqua Pennsylvania Inc. extended condolences to the family of a Hermitage man who died after being struck by one of its trucks on Tuesday.

    July 18, 2014

  • Judge clears Buhl Rec Center in slander suit

    A judge has cleared the Buhl Community Recreation Center of a slander lawsuit filed by a club member.

    July 17, 2014