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Hagan backs drilling halt

Published: Tue, November 29, 2011 @ 12:05 a.m.

By Karl Henkel



The Mahoning Valley’s latest earthquake — a magnitude 2.1 early Friday — wasn’t significant enough to shake many area homes, but it was apparently big enough to rattle state Rep. Robert F. Hagan all the way in New York.

Hagan of Youngstown, D-60th, upon hearing the news, fired off a tweet calling for the state to halt all oil-and-gas drilling activities.

“What does [the Ohio Department of Natural Resources] know about earthquakes?” he typed, referencing the state agency’s stance that brine injection wells do not cause earthquakes. “[Youngstown] quake? Moratorium now!”

Hagan on Monday backed up that statement and told The Vindicator there’s no coincidence between an injection well and eight Valley earthquakes in eight months — the first quakes known to epicenter in the area.

“Injection wells have been around for some time,” Hagan said. “On the other hand, earthquakes have not.”

ODNR has said there is no evidence linking injection wells to earthquakes, but that hasn’t stopped it from requiring Youngstown-based D&L Energy, which operates a 9,000-foot deep well on Ohio Works Drive, to test and possibly plug the bottom 250 feet of that well to “alleviate any perceived [earthquake] accusations.”

Seven of the eight earthquakes have had epicenters near the well; the latest had an epicenter just a few blocks from the well site.

Hagan said he wants a moratorium on all oil-and gas-related activities, including injection wells, until there is evidence that drilling operations can continue safely.

Brine-injection wells are used to dispose of wastewater from fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, a process in which water, chemicals and sand are blasted through pipes into rocks thousands of feet below the ground to unlock natural gas and oil. The wells are constructed with steel casing and cement to protect against contaminated water entering the ground.

“I’m not opposed to drilling,” Hagan said. “I’m opposed to moving too fast and finding out at a later date that it’s too late.”

Part of that testing, at least regarding the earthquakes, is the addition of at least two seismic stations, said Susie Beiersdorfer, a geology instructor at Youngstown State University who previously worked in the oil and gas industry.

“[More seismic testing] is the next logical step,” she said. “There’s a lot of coincidental evidence.”

Gathering data from three local seismographs can help pinpoint the exact depths of earthquakes, which have been estimated to be 5 kilometers below the ground, 7,500 feet below the lowest point of the D&L well.

Another theory about the cause of the earthquakes is that an ancient buried fault line lies deep beneath the Mahoning Valley.

Those fault lines would be part of the Precambrian rock formation about 9,000 feet below the ground.

The D&L well may be injecting fluid into that impermeable formation, prompting the ODNR- requested test.

If that’s the case, ODNR may have more questions to answer. Two more wells — in Beaver and Coitsville townships — have been permitted to drill 9,300 feet deep.

If drilled to that depth, they would be the two deepest Class II injection wells in Ohio.

ODNR did not provide an immediate response as to whether it will modify those injection-well permits in lieu of the possible plugging of the bottom of the D&L Youngstown well.

Mike Hansen of the Ohio Seismic Network says that determining ancient faults is “not done easily or cheaply.”

“Most of the faults we know have come as a result of oil and gas drillers,” he said.

This is not a result of the actual drilling, but the seismic testing that drilling companies conduct prior to the start of operations. Hansen said the process is called seismic refraction, where seismic waves are bounced off underground rock layers to determine geological structure.

The state doesn’t have equipment to conduct such tests, Hansen said, but the drilling companies do. That information is “proprietary,” he said and isn’t shared publicly.

Beiersdorfer said that drilling companies should be investigating earthquake and other environmental safety worries.

“I wish they’d spend half as much on safety research as they did on drilling research,” she said.


1Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

"Hagan of Youngstown, D-60th, upon hearing the news, fired off a tweet calling for the state to halt all oil-and-gas drilling activities."

Bob has never fully recovered from the bop to the chops that he got at the Lemon Grove . The prosperity of Ohio and The Valley depends on oil and gas production .

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2Photoman(1246 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

These "earthquakes" are not really earthquakes but the sound of politicians positioning themselves for the cash handouts they will receive from energy companies.

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3valleyred(1103 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Thank God Bob has run out of terms to run for public off down in Columbus. He needs to worry about running his Lemon Grove and working on the railroad. His far far left views would be welcomed in the Northeast or California.

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4walter_sobchak(2672 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

I think Buckwheat Bob should tackle a more dangerous problem in the state of Ohio. It is a known fact that Railway/highway at-grade crossings are known to be deadly to motorists. Buckwheat should demand a morotorium on all train traffic in the state until all crossings are removed and replaced with grade separation bridges.

Keep that left up, Buckwheat and stick and move. (What a putzzzz!!!)

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5bone303(3 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

This guy like the rest of the Lib's in this Valley will do anything to keep their names in the paper. Does anyone really think he cares about how much this industry will help this area recover? He like the rest of the politicians around here are looking their cut of the pie. Like Walter said keep up the good work Buckwheat Bob!! Term Limits are good thing!!

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6cmrosko(19 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

ODNR downplays earthquake fracking connections? Kasich's original appointment as ODNR Chief, Davis Mustiine, had a long career as a representative for the oil and gas industry in both the U.S. and the middle east. Kasich moved Mustine to a newly created, heavily veiled, quasi government / business / energy group. Since then Kasich has been playing musical chairs with a variety of appointments to various ODNR management positions. Looks like the definition of "shifty" to me.

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7redeye1(5615 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

The people who are glad that bobbin Bob has run out of term limits in Columbus, better watch what they wish for. The rumors are abound that bobbin Bob is giving seriuos thought to running for the mayor of Y town job.. Then look out!!!! This guy will do anything toget his name in the news.

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8AtownAugie(884 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Hagan came back all rejuvenated after his time with his true comrades -- the Occupy Wall Street squatters in NYC. Checking out housing there, Bob? Maybe a multi-family tent? When you move -- soon we hope -- make sure to use a union cartage firm.

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9AnotherAverageCitizen(1193 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Very few earthquakes near y-town for many many years. Fracking starts and so does the earthquakes. Sure they quakes are small for now, but look out some day when the big one hits. But by then all the money will be taken out of Ohio anyway.

More jobs will be created by cleaning up from the quakes then fracking will create.

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10walter_sobchak(2672 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Check your facts. Fracking is only being done in a couple of wells in Ohio and none in the areas of seismic activity. The well on Salts Springs is a deep injection well that injects drilling fluids down about 8000 to 9000 feet, below impermeable stone and clays, and into the fissures of the underlying bedrock. These wells have been used for decades. Most of this fluid is coming in from Pa. Did you ever consider that some of the seismic activity could be coming from the earth's crust settling under the weight of the mountain that has been created at the construction debris landfill on Salts Springs Rd.?

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11Tigerlily(509 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

I thank God every day for a representative like Bob Hagan who is actually looking out for the well being of the people who elected him, rather than those who we elect that then go on to rape and pillage. Yes, I'm referring to Kasich, who has opened Ohio up to industrial rape.

If you think the steel industry made Youngstown into a wasteland, fracking will put the nail in the coffin.

Like the Joker in Batman says, wait till they get a load of me.

Maybe in the future our children will also look like the Joker. Come on, we can take some more environmental destruction and depositing of chemicals into our earth and groundwater, right? Right?

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12AnotherAverageCitizen(1193 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago


Seven of the eight earthquakes have had epicenters near the well; the latest had an epicenter just a few blocks from the well site.

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13Bigben(1996 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Well done Bob !

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14SkyKing310B(315 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Tigerlilly, Think121 & AAC- Why don't you and Boob Hagan all move to SF so you can party with Nancy Pelosi and while you are at it, take timmie with you, too.

We have had enough of your type. You destroyed the steel industry here and anytime some alternative project comes along, your out front leading the fight to kill it.

We have had enough crybabies holding this area back. When I look at Akron, Canton and Pittsburgh who all went through what y-town did and where they are today, it makes me sick to think what we might have been. We have had too many Boob Hagans and Big Mouth Betrases destroying this city and the worst culprits are the voters themselves who keep re-electing these idiots. But then I guess when is see the mentality of the voters, most of whom have little education and live on those of us who do work, why would they want to change it?

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15steelwagon(284 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

We're heading into the unknow here.
The depth of these wells are much deeper than the wells drilled in the 70s when the drilling industry was booming.

I worked for Haliburton at the time and Haliburton crews from Wooster would frack 2 wells a day,sometimes 3 and as far as I know there were no earthquakes but the wells were not as deep as these new wells.

The oil and gas industry did in fact provide thousands of jobs in the 70s and I hope if the state is opened up to drilling those jobs will return.
I'm not opposed to the industry but I know from past experience drilling companies bear close watching and strict inspection and oversight is necessary.

We need domestic energy production so long as it benefits this country and isn't sold off to China.

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16Bigben(1996 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

There has never been an epicenter since equipment has been available to measure epicenters in our area until the well was drilled. It warrants a closer look .

The mountain of debris on Salt Springs has been there a long time.

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17Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Valley Politicians have steered the course for years . They know what they are doing ! Today with their help we are #1 !


According to a recent report by the Brookings Insitute, Youngstown leads the nation with the highest concentration of poverty with a rate of 49.7 percent.

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18Bigben(1996 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

steelwagon your response seems balanced and sensible not to mention you have worked in the industry .

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19misterlee(118 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

You're out of your element Walter. Earthquakes don't occur close to the surface, they happen in the bedrock, the same bedrock you said the well is pumping fluid into the fissures of. Spreading fissures in the bedrock apart will cause earthquakes. That's what earthquakes are, bedrock fissures breaking and slipping. This has occured at these sites in other states with little history of seismic activity. It may never cause a big one, but if this keeps up I wouldn't be surprised if homeowner's insurance costs went up.

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20walter_sobchak(2672 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Earthquakes, for the most part, are caused by the sudden release of energy stored up in the earth's crust from the strains accumulating from plate tectonics. However, there are cases of induced seimicity in the world from human activity such as coal mining and construction. The 2008 Sichuan earthquake in China's Sichuan Province is believed to have been caused by the weight of the Zipingpu Dam and the impounded water behind it fluctuating the pressure on a fault 1650' from the dam. I do recognize the possibility also exists with bedrock fracturing when water is pumped into its fissures and pores. Maybe a combination of both activities here. But, hey Donny, maybe I am out of my element.

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21ondaedg(19 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

@Walter: Just because you wordsmithed the wikipedia page for earthquake doesn't make you suddenly credible. You would have been more credible if you just agreed and showed openness to the comments from misterlee.

And for anyone to discount the coincidince of 8 earthquakes and the deep well fracking is being blinded by their own political beliefs. To think that it is now ok for a company to create earthquakes is unbelievable and something I never thought I'd see in my lifetime.

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22walter_sobchak(2672 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Just because I use a Wiki source to give you the particulars of the event since I can't remember the name of the Zipingdu Dam in the Sichuan Province as easily as I can remember the Cal-Northridge quake on the San Andreas fault does not alter the facts. I remember when the quake hit China and the seismologists indicated that the weight of the dam and the impounded water was the cause of the shift in a nearby fault line. I guess I could have just did a cut and paste of the link as others do. Now, until hard evidence is given that the injection well is causing the seismic activity, the evidence is only anecdotal. In any event, the Utica Shale play in this area is going to have a huge economic impact on this region, especially in the possibility of extracting the ethane (C2H6) in the shale that can be cracked into ethylene (C2H4) to be used by the plastic and organic synthesis industry! Shell is currently deciding on the location of a cracking plant in Ohio, Pa, or WV.

That being said, fracking has nothing to do with the well off Salts Springs Rd. Get you facts straight! Little fracking has actually occurred in our region. It is merely a conventionally drilled deep well that accepts and injects fluid into rock pores and fissues. As far as the seismic loads, most buildings and structures are subjected to far greater loads from winds in our area. Those critical structures can easily handle the seismic loads imparted by these low magnitude quakes. Of course, that is only opinion of a Professional Engineer with a Masters in Engineering with over 30 years experience.

But, hey...DONNY, you're out of your element!

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23ondaedg(19 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Walter: Technically, you're correct that the connection between the seismic activity and the well is anecdotal. But I emphasize "technically". No one is going to come forward and say there is a connection, but it doesn't take a geologist to figure out that based on the location of the epicenter of the quake and its proximity to the well that there is a connection. The other side of the coin is this has all occurred by chance and if you believe that I have some land on the moon I'd like to sell you! No earthquakes in Mahoning County for 200 years and suddenly we have 8 all centered around drilling sites. Hrmm, I think I'll take the logical explanation. Thanks.

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