K&H Partners Seeks Permit For Third Injection Well

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K&H Partners has filed an application to drill a third injection well in Athens County’s Troy Twp.

The application from the Parkersburg company was filed Nov. 14 with the Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management, part of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The well would be located near Torch, off County Road 63.

ODNR spokesman Matt Eiselstein said the application is under review for completeness, and once deemed complete it will undergo an initial evaluation and an inspector will visit the proposed site.

“The next step would be public notice, which opens the public comment period,” Eiselstein said in an email to The Messenger. “Once comments are received, they are reviewed as the application undergoes a second evaluation.”

After that review is complete, the final step would be writing special permit conditions deemed necessary following public comment and final evaluation, he said.

Injection wells are used to dispose of waste, including brine and fracking waste, from oil and gas wells.

A drawing attached to the permit application indicates the well would be located in the vicinity of K&H Partners’ second injection well.

A permit for the second well was issued a year ago, and there is currently a case pending in Franklin County Common Pleas Court that relates to that permit.

The Athens County Fracking Action Network (ACFAN) challenged the second permit before the Ohio Oil and Gas Commission, raising what the environmental group said were technical and legal objections about the adequacy of the proposed well to protect local groundwater. However, ODNR argued that the permit being challenged was a drilling permit (rather than an injection permit), and under Ohio law the commission can’t review drilling permits. The commission agreed and dismissed the case, but ACFAN appealed to Franklin County Common Pleas Court.

Earlier this year, ACFAN and Appalachia Resist sent a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency raising concerns about the cement casing on the second well and about soil and water contamination during drilling of the well, and asked U.S. EPA to intervene.

Andrea Reik of ACFAN said Tuesday that no action was taken by U.S. EPA in response to the letter.

ODNR had fined K&H Partners $50,000 because of the spill, but ODNR and the EPA concluded that brine that got into a nearby stream did not impact wildlife, an EPA spokeswoman said in June. An ODNR spokesman said there were multiple inspections during cementing of the well and there “was no problem with the cementing.”

This past summer, Athens County Commission President Lenny Eliason accepted an invitation from K&H Partners to tour its two injection wells in Troy Twp. Afterward, Eliason said he came away from the tour with a positive view of how K&H Partners operates the two injection wells.

“From a layman’s view, it seems to be operating well,” Eliason said at the time, but added he felt there is still a question regarding whether ODNR adequately regulates injection wells.