Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Activists and Coal Magnate Working to Fight Belmont County Injection Well

From The Intelligencer:
Belmont County residents were in their commissioners’ office Wednesday, seeking county support against a proposed injection well.

Earlier in the week, the Richland Township Trustees took action to block the project, while calling on the commissioners to support their actions at the county level. On Tuesday, the trustees indefinitely tabled two matters pertaining to the well, one permit and one road use maintenance agreement. The well is eyed for a field at the intersection of U.S. 40 and Ohio 331. 
During the meeting the trustees and Belmont County Treasurer Kathy Kelich said appeals to the state representatives to help in preventing the well would hold more weight if the commissioners made a resolution of opposition. 
Commissioners Josh Meyer, J.P. Dutton and Jerry Echemann said while the board has no jurisdiction over the proceedings, they are reaching out to representatives. 
Pease Township Trustee Michael Bianconi said he had attended an informational presentation about the oil and gas industry Monday at Ohio State University Eastern, and the Richland Township meeting Tuesday. He added that the Pease Township Trustees will also consider a resolution of opposition.
Click here to read that whole article.

Robert Murray, CEO of coal company Murray Energy Corp., wrote a letter to the editor in opposition to the project.  Here is a portion (you can read it in full by clicking here):
Editor’s note: Robert Murray, president and CEO of Murray Energy Corp., has penned this letter to Belmont County commissioners concerning two proposed wastewater injection wells in Richland Township.

Dear commissioners: 
We are writing in regard to an issue a very great concern to our county, Especially to all of us residing or doing business in Richland Township, including Murray Energy Corp. We are speaking of the planned siting of two brine wastewater injection wells in Richland Township near Interstate 70 and U.S. 40. These proposed disposal Wells would be operated by a virtually unknown New Jersey company now calling itself Omni Energy LLC, formed on Jan. 15, 2019, and registered to do business in Ohio in March 2019. 
Murray Energy has invested considerable time and resources to analyze Omni’s plan. The Richland Township Board of Trustees, and many concerned citizens, also have reviewed Omni’s proposal in-depth and have understandably come out very strongly against it. We join them and wholeheartedly agree that this urbanized area, which is adjacent to a very busy intersection, is the worst possible location for these wells. More than 200 trucks per day will enter and leave the site and travel U.S. 40 to and from I-70, exit 215. The proposed site is also very near a pre-school, a school, a church, county offices, a university, many businesses, dangerous intersections, and quiet residential neighborhoods. 
One-hundred homes are within one-half of a mile of the site in 300 homes are within one mile. The waste hauled to the site is so toxic that the truck drivers wear masks and other protective equipment. Although the injection wells are supposed to be cased with cement to protect our groundwater sources from frack fluid chemicals and radioactive waste from flow-back water, Omni has no track record to support an assumption that the wells will be constructed properly and operated safely. This is simply too big of a risk to take in a populated area.
Murray's letter contained false statements, including the claim that the truck drivers have to wear masks because they are transporting hazardous waste.  The misleading nature of Murray's letter prompted Rhonda Reda, Executive Director of the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program, to write a response (read it in full by clicking here):
This is in response to the July 6 letter in The Intelligencer regarding injection wells in Belmont County. I believe misinformation was intentionally portrayed, and it is obvious that education on this topic is needed. 
First off, fluids being injected into Class II injection wells cannot, and do not, accept hazardous waste by EPA rule. Our drivers do not need to wear masks, nor does anyone in the general public. As with all industries, our oilfield workers are required to wear protective equipment such as hard hats, safety gloves and steel toe shoes as required by OSHA. 
Now, for some additional educational facts. Millions of years ago this region was completely covered by ocean (brine). Natural gas, oil and coal were formed from those marine plants and animals. Today, this ocean water is produced alongside our natural gas and oil, and is returned to the Earth’s subsurface. This saltwater injection technology has been utilized in the U.S. since the 1930s. 
Currently, there are more than 180,000 Class II injection wells in the U.S. that assist in the development of natural gas and oil. In Ohio, 98% of this water is disposed in over 200 Class II injection wells. The other 2% is used for dust and ice control. 

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