About 40 demonstrators from Frackfree Mahoning Valley blockaded access to a horizontal fracturing well under construction in Jackson Township on Sunday.
The well is operated by Consol Energy, and the group says it is located within the environmentally protected area that surrounds the Meander Reservoir, which provides more than 200,000 people in the Mahoning Valley with drinking water.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a process in which sand, water and chemicals are pumped into shale at high pressure to release natural gas and oil trapped within the rock thousands of feet underground.
The protesters blockaded access to the well pad for almost five hours, starting at 10:45 a.m., after which the blockade was ended, according to Sam Rubin, a member of the anti-fracking group.
The blockade took place without arrests or confrontation with workers or police, Rubin said.
Protesters were supported by people from across Ohio, who chanted, sang songs and listened to addresses by the Rev. Monica Baisley-Martin and Atty. Staughton Lind.
The action was organized under the banner of Frackfree Mahoning and Frackfree America.
According to 21 WFMJ-TV, The Vindicator’s broadcast partner, Consol Energy says safety, compliance and continuous improvement drive its operations. The company says it takes its operational footprint very seriously and has worked closely with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Agency to obtain all necessary permits. That includes a floodplain permit to operate at the site.
Frackfree Mahoning Valley contends that fracking contaminates ground and surface water. They say that no matter the safety record of a company, wells fail, and over time, all wells break, becoming sources for water contamination.
Group members say the main objective is to see to the safety of families in the area.
This action comes just days before the Youngstown City Council is set to decide whether to sell mineral rights on city lands. The city may consider selling its mineral rights to raise more money for demolition and neighborhood improvement projects.