Groundwater Tests Considered Near Injection Wells

Posted on:

< < Back to

A proposal to do baseline groundwater testing at a K&H Partners injection well site near Torch is being considered by the Athens County Commissioners.

K&H Partners of West Virginia received a state permit March 18 to drill its third injection well in Troy Twp. near Torch. Injection wells are used to dispose of saltwater and other waste, including fracking waste, from oil and gas wells.

Baseline groundwater testing is intended to determine the current condition of groundwater in case contamination is suspected later. A proposal for groundwater testing was submitted to the commissioners by Jennifer Bowman, senior environmental project manager for Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs.

The commissioners discussed the proposal briefly at their meeting Tuesday, but decided to invite Bowman to a future meeting to discuss it in more detail.

Commission President Lenny Eliason raised the question of whether testing should be done at other injection well sites in the county. There are about a half dozen active injection wells in Athens, including the two earlier-approved K&H wells.
Although the cost of the project would depend on the number of samples to be tested, the proposal from the Voinovich School asks the county for $15,200, which would be enough to test 10 water wells twice — once in the spring and once in the fall. The 10 drinking water wells have not yet been selected, and permission would have to be obtained from landowners. The results would be provided to the landowners and also presented at a public meeting, according to the proposal.
Eliason said he has had some preliminary discussion with K&H about the company possibly helping cover the cost.

Commissioner Chris Chmiel said the testing procedure outlined in the proposal would not be the strongest if there were legal action later because of contamination.

Commissioner Charlie Adkins said the county might want to consider using a more stringent procedure, even if it costs more.

Bowman addresses the question in a cover letter to the commissioners.

“If the intention is to have ‘litigation level’ data for the future, I recommend an EPA-certified laboratory collect the samples,” she wrote. “This is a tighter chain-of-custody (with) less room for methods questioning down the road.”

The current proposal calls for samples to be collected by trained personnel from the Voinovich School, but analyzed by a third-party Environmental Protection Agency-certified laboratory.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources, which issues injection well drilling permits, has said that injection wells are the safest way to dispose of oil and gas well waste, and that a properly constructed injection well does not pose a risk to groundwater.

In announcing last month that the K&H application had been approved, an ODNR spokesman said the agency will “monitor each step of the drilling and injection process.”