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UPDATED: State blames quakes on well; Hagan wants D&L closed

Published: Fri, March 9, 2012 @ 1:06 p.m.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A dozen Youngstown earthquakes were almost certainly induced by injection of gas-drilling wastewater into the earth, state regulators said Friday as they announced a series of new rules for drillers.

Among the new regulations: Well operators must submit more comprehensive geological data when requesting a drill site, and the chemical makeup of all drilling wastewater must be tracked electronically.

The state Department of Natural Resources announced the new brine injection regulations because of the report’s findings on the well in Youngstown, which it said were based on “a number of coincidental circumstances.”

For one, investigators said, the D&L Northstar 1 well began operations just three months ahead of the first quake.

They also noted that the seismic activity was clustered around the well bore, and reported that a fault has since been identified in the Precambrian basement rock where water was being injected.

The ODNR, criticized as slow to react to local concerns about the quakes, continued to maintain a skeptical tone in its report, only noting "a compelling argument for the recent Youngstown-area seismic events to have been induced."

The report continues: “Geologists believe it is very difficult for all conditions to be met to induce seismic events," adding, "In fact, all the evidence indicates that properly located ... injection wells will not cause earthquakes.”

Northeastern Ohio and large parts of adjacent states sit atop the Utica and Marcellus Shale geological formations, which contain vast reserves of natural gas that energy companies are rushing to drill using a process known as hydraulic fracturing.

That process involves freeing the gas by injecting huge amounts of chemical-laced water, termed brine, into the earth, but that water needs to be disposed of when companies are done with it. Municipal water treatment plants aren’t designed to remove some of the contaminants found in the wastewater, including radioactive elements. Deep injection is considered one of the safest methods for disposing of the wastewater.

Past earthquakes have been linked to energy exploration and production, including from injections of enormous amounts of drilling wastewater or injections of water for geothermal power, experts said.

They point to recent earthquakes in the magnitude 3 and 4 range — not big enough to cause much damage, but big enough to be felt — in Arkansas, Texas, California, England, Germany and Switzerland. And in the 1960s, two Denver quakes in the 5.0 range were traced to deep injection of wastewater.

The improper placement of the Youngstown well stemmed in part from inadequate geological data being available to regulators, the Ohio report states. New rules would require a complete roll of geophysical logs to be submitted to the state.

“These logs were not available to inform regulators of the possible issues in geologic formations prior to well operation,” the document says.

Requiring well operators to submit more comprehensive geologic data is just one of the added regulations the department will either impose immediately or pursue through legislative or rule changes.

Among other changes:

• Future injection into Precambrian rock will be banned, and existing wells penetrating the formation will be plugged.

• State-of-the-art pressure and volume monitoring will be required, including automatic shut-off systems.

• Electronic tracking systems will be required that identify the makeup of all drilling wastewater fluids entering the state.

As the technology is developed and installed, the new regulations could have an immediate impact on neighboring Pennsylvania, which is among states that ship their wastewater to Ohio for disposal. Pennsylvania, the top gas-producing state in the region, doesn’t practice deep injection of wastewater because its geology precludes it.

“Ohio has developed a new set of regulatory standards that positions the state as a national leader in safe and environmentally responsible brine disposal,” Natural Resources Director James Zehringer said in a prepared statement.

“Ohioans demand smart environmental safeguards that protect our environment and promote public health. These new standards accomplish that goal,” he said.

Carlo LoParo, a spokesman for the natural resources department, said ramping up the electronic monitoring of incoming wastewater could take some time. The technology, similar to an electronic pass used on a toll road, is not yet widely available, he said.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gave Ohio regulatory authority over its deep well injection program in 1983, deeming that its state regulations met or exceeded federal standards. The new regulations would be added to those existing rules.

• The Vindicator added to this Associated Press report.


1DwightK(1520 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

The new regulations are a good idea. If this waste must be dumped here we should at least know what's in it.

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2James_S(268 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

Drill but NO FRACKING.

And "Green Energy"?- It's a MONUMENTAL WASTE of $$$MONEY$$$, TIME. Cost prohibitive. INEFFICIENT.


To all you "GLOBALISTS":

Why buy OIL/GAS from across the globe when we have it in our backyards?

And nobody is going to ever convince me that OIL/NATURAL GAS is a "Fossil Fuel".




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3HaydenThomas(208 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

How do you people like being guinea pigs? It's just a matter of time before they cause the big one.

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4Attis(1114 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

D&L and its affiliated gangs in the suites are guilty of corporate terrorism, knowingly endangering the entire public for private profit by engaging in an inherently unsafe operation which causes earthquakes. These corporate criminals should not only be put out of business, they should be put into jail.

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5walter_sobchak(2587 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

From the January 19, 2012 Vindy:

"And we were also around in 1983, when state Rep. Robert E. Hagan of Lake County introduced House Bill 501, which called for a moratorium on all oil and gas activity in Ohio until the Division of Oil and Gas could certify that a sufficient number of underground injection wells existed to handle all produced brine. Thankfully, there were, and the bill was signed into law by Democratic Gov. Dick Celeste in 1985. Ever since, injection wells have been the law of the land in Ohio – not just a disposal option for producers, but one that is mandated under law."

Maybe we should remove his name from the 711 connector since daddy R.E. Hagan is responsible for the current quantity of disposal wells in Ohio. ODNR permitted this well and they knew the depths it was going to. Plug the bottom of the well and keep injecting.

James S
It makes sense that some of the oil ans gas may be abiotic but some most certainly comes from fossils. But, certainly, especially in Russia, there are drillers getting oil out of the ground where geologists say none should exist.

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6redeye1(5512 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

STOP once again you should keep your mouth shut, then people would only wonder if you are an idiot. But now they know!!!!!!!!!

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7valleyred(1103 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

Hagan is a complete joke.

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8legend33(169 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

I wouldn't close it until the 711 connector comes tumbling down!

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9georgejeanie(1398 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

derf5983, I could not agree with you more. While the world is eating our lunch, we doddle around with idiots like Hagan pulling the rug out from any entrepreuer who tries to make a difference so idiots like Hagan can keep slopping at the trough. Keep drilling and 20 years from now Hagan will still be trying to shutdown some other industry.

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10redeye1(5512 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

SSR Better check the records, Its was D party Gov't .group that passed all the laws about wells these back in the 80's The bill was signed by a D parrty governor

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11Warrenout(1 comment)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

So I'm guessing that Mr. Blocksom from Patriot Water has been right all along. He's been telling anyone that would listen that low salt brine would cause unstable pressures at an injection well, and cause earthquakes. Maybe he isn't all that nuts

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