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ODNR rejects linking well to Mahoning Valley quakes

Published: Thu, November 24, 2011 @ 12:08 a.m.

State orders tests at D&L in Youngstown

By Karl Henkel



State environmental regulators are relatively sure that a brine-injection well in Youngstown hasn’t been the source of six Mahoning Valley earthquakes this year.

But they’re not totally sure.

So to silence any naysayers, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources says it will require Youngstown-based D&L Energy Inc. to backplug its well on Ohio Works Drive if a test determines water is penetrating a deep rock formation.

“We’re going to make them plug that back with cement just to alleviate any of the potential problems,” said Tom Tomastik, geologist at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. “If we plug that off, then there’s no avenue for the fluid to go down.”

Tomastik said the well will cease operation for the test as soon as another D&L well, permitted in Liberty, is ready to accept brine water.

If the state and D&L determine that brine can enter the Precambrian rock formation roughly 9,000 feet below the ground, D&L will plug the bottom 250 feet of the well with concrete. It is permitted to disperse water in the formations above the Precambrian.

“It will eliminate any perceived accusations,” Tomastik said.

Ben Lupo, president of D&L, said a previous test was inconclusive because debris — most likely iron and muddy water — sits at the bottom of the well.

Injection-well experts previously told The Vindicator that debris is likely from low-salinity, high total-dissolved solids’ brine, which could plug a well.

Aside from quashing the link between possibly injecting brine water into impermeable rock formations, there’s also the question of pressure and the broad effect wells could have on earthquakes.

In the two weeks leading up to the first Valley earthquake in March, D&L increased pressure rates by 225 pounds per square inch, from 1,425 to 1,650, according to documents acquired by The Vindicator.

A typical garden hose exerts water at rate of 50 to 500 psi, depending on structure.

The day after the earthquake, the pressure was lowered to 1,325 psi before it was ramped up to 1,762.5 psi three days later.

A day before the fourth earthquake, on Sept. 2, D&L powered down the well, then started it back up at 1900 psi.

A 2.2-magnitude earthquake happened later that afternoon.

Lupo said pressures are regulated by the state and are safe.

“The state has an equation that they use to have allowable pressures to operate at,” he said.

Currently the D&L Youngstown site is permitted to inject water at 2,500 pounds per square inch.

Reported data covered the first five earthquakes.

The well was debated among geologists and seismologists as to whether it has caused seven Valley earthquakes since March 17 — the first seven ever recorded with epicenters in the Valley.

Six of the earthquakes had epicenters near the well site; the seventh was centered near Hubbard.

Michael Hansen of the Ohio Seismic Network said that to prove a definite link between an injection well and an earthquake, the exact depths of the quakes must be known.

All appear to have occurred 5 kilometers below ground level, about 7,500 feet below the deepest point of the D&L Youngstown well.

Hansen said, however, that to determine precise depths, it is crucial to have at least three seismograph readings for each event.

The only seismograph in the immediate area is at Youngstown State University.

An earthquake as a result of an injection well is not a new phenomenon. Arkansas environmental regulators noticed a sharp decline in earthquakes after four wells ceased operations.


1taxme(356 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Corporation's and government officials really think people are gullible and stupid. The article reads there were 4 quakes right at the injection site but no evidence. WOW how dumb are we. This article is so frikin insulting to human intelligence!

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2glbtactivist(295 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Kasich and his Republican, Wall Street, administration would say fracting is not harmful, even though many States have entirely banned it due to it's dangerous results. Another example of selling our world down the drain for a buck.

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3notfaraway(2 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Even the headline is misleading. It's as if this writer for the Vindicator assumes only the people who read the Vindicator only reads the headlline. If you read the article it's not saying at all what the headline says. It's a horrible thing that these injection wells are doing AND nobody will admit it although it's obvious. ODNR wants those .20 cents a barrel fees.Until our city is equipped to handle earthquakes I think we should slow things down. Can you imagine these old bridges shifting? Not to mention how all these tankers will destroy our already deplorable roads.

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4ytownsteelman(670 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Bridges shifting from a 2.2 quake? Come on!

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5repeaters(284 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

I can't wait until the day one of these wells leaks into Meander Res., then what do you do for drinking water?

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6notfaraway(2 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

ytown Can you predict there will not be bigger earthquakes? Do you know how many smaller quakes it takes to effect older bridges? No, you don't. Do some. Research before you post.

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7craigd(7 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Amazing. The same company that regulates and profits from the gas wells try's to tell us that everything is ok. There is so much to lose with these wells. FYI for eveyone in this area. There is a federal law that prohibits VA and HUD loans if a gas well is within 350 yard of the house you are trying to buy. Even the federal gov't knows this is wrong. Also, a recent article quoted someone saying that Ohio has some of the strictest laws in place for safety. Reality, we have the worst. A well can be placed 150 yards from your house. A law that was wrote in the 1800's in case the rig fell; it's was 150 yard high. PA's is 1000 yards, Texas 3000 yards. Oil company's want everything right on top of us, evey bit of land they van get. We can live without natural gas, can we live without water?

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8UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

It's already a proven fact that brine deep injection wells cause minor earthquakes. Ashtabula shut one down not too long ago for that reason. The ODNR is being Republican. We don't need these here in Ohio either. NY, NJ, and PA have already stopped theirs for this reason and the dangerous chemicals being injected deep into the earth.

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9squigglyjams(11 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Of course they're going to reject the obvious warning signs, there's money to made in "them thar hills", but "...don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got "til it gone?..."

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10casper77(136 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Years ago , they had a practice of ejecting old wells with carbon monoxide This was stopped because of a sudden increase in earthquakes in the area around the wells that were injected . Money is the driving force now , not science

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11Stan(9923 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

casper77 :

"Years ago , they had a practice of ejecting old wells with carbon monoxide This was stopped because of a sudden increase in earthquakes in the area"

Carbon dioxide injection is still very much in vogue for oil extraction along with polymer flooding . . . .


Thermal recovery, which involves the introduction of heat such as the injection of steam to lower the viscosity, or thin, the heavy viscous oil, and improve its ability to flow through the reservoir. Thermal techniques account for over 40 percent of U.S. EOR production, primarily in California.

Gas injection, which uses gases such as natural gas, nitrogen, or carbon dioxide that expand in a reservoir to push additional oil to a production wellbore, or other gases that dissolve in the oil to lower its viscosity and improves its flow rate. Gas injection accounts for nearly 60 percent of EOR production in the United States.

Chemical injection, which can involve the use of long-chained molecules called polymers to increase the effectiveness of waterfloods, or the use of detergent-like surfactants to help lower the surface tension that often prevents oil droplets from moving through a reservoir. Chemical techniques account for about one percent of U.S. EOR production.

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12Feedbackkid(3 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Let's be open minded. We probably need to take a closer look at the process, but with the hope that we find a way to make this work. I don't want to be without water, and realize we cant live without it. However, when you read what the positive results have been in places like pennsylvania and north dakota, it probably makes sense for our leadership to visit those communities to see what they wished they had done differently......just a thought.There are pros and cons to everything hopefully ther are more pros to what this can do for the valley.

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13Stan(9923 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

"All appear to have occurred 5 kilometers below ground level, about 7,500 feet below the deepest point of the D&L Youngstown well."

This sure is a long way from the injection zone . Seismic mapping could deterimine any geological abnormalities in the area causing the earthquakes .


Oct 26, 2011 – The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is preparing for the 2014 update of the National Seismic Hazard Maps.

Quaternary Faults
Where are the faults in my area, and when did they last have a large earthquake? Find maps and comprehensive geologically based information on known or suspected active faults and folds in the United States

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14Bigben(1996 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

"ODNR rejects linking well to Mahoning Valley quakes" If an earthquake occurs ignore it it is just your imagination. Think happy thoughts.

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