Athens Council Opposes Proposed Troy Twp. Injection Well

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Athens City Council voted Monday to support the county commissioners’ objection to the proposed K&H Partners injection well, citing public health concerns.

On Sept. 9, the Athens County Commissioners sent a letter to the Underground Injection Control Section of the Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management to request a public hearing regarding the permit application by K&H Partners of West Virginia. The application is for a Class II injection well in Troy Twp.

“It appears to us that this is a highly deficient application that will not prevent pollution of land, surface water and drinking water sources as required by Ohio law,” stated the letter from the commissioners. “We are concerned about the permit application’s inability to protect health, safety and environmental conservation in our county.”

On Monday evening, Athens City Council voted unanimously to support the commissioners’ objection.

“The concern is the toxicity of the brine and the injection fluid, and its inconsistencies, as well as the fact that it’s not really measured, the amounts that are going in and the quantity and the strength of it. That is a concern,” said Mayor Paul Wiehl.

Councilwoman Michele Papai, who introduced the resolution, stated that she worries when she sees brine trucks on the highway.

“I hope that no community ever has a spill because it’s difficult to clean up,” she said.

“This is extremely relevant in being mindful of the health issues that are (potentially) at risk for our air and water quality. I’d like to see copies of this sent to many officials in Columbus,” said Councilman Kent Butler. Councilwoman Chris Fahl said that she was in Lawrenceville (Clark County) over the weekend and saw a large number of brine trucks in the small community.

“On less than a 25-mile stretch of fairly local road, 53 brine trucks passed me. It’s amazing, and that was on a Sunday,” Fahl said. “That was in an area that last year had almost no development of oil and gas shale … I don’t want that on our roads. Our roads are dangerous enough as it is.”

Councilman Steve Patterson said he’s concerned about the stability of concrete injection wells, especially with recent seismic activity in the region. On Nov. 20, a 3.5 magnitude earthquake was detected two miles east of Nelsonville.

“We’re talking about cement wellheads that the standards for maintaining them are at the lowest level when it comes to this whole industry in terms of monitoring,” he said.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has defended its regulation of injection wells.

“We have toughened our rules, including the adoption of some of the most comprehensive laws in the nation regarding Class II injection wells,” ODNR Director James Zehringer wrote in a recent letter to County Commission President Lenny Eliason.

Zehringer also wrote that “no new scientific information or evidence has been identified that would indicate this proposed well is a threat to public health or safety.”

The state has denied the request for a public hearing.