Activists call for shutdown of Blott Road well, protest water sale

By Peter H. Milliken


Environmental activists again appeared before Mahoning County commissioners to protest the sale of water from the county’s system to CNX Gas Co. for a well-drilling site off Blott Road in Jackson Township.

“Words cannot describe my sense of betrayal and anger,” Judy Vershum of Canfield said of the commissioners’ Feb. 7 decision to sell the water.

“You have neither the moral nor the ethical authority to do so,” Vershum said Thursday, conceding that she assumes commissioners have the legal authority to make the sale. “This water will be poisoned and taken out of the natural water cycle forever,” she added.

The Blott Road well is in the watershed of Meander Reservoir, from which the gas well’s water supply and the area’s drinking-water supply originates.

Vershum urged commissioners to “do everything in your power to shut down that well and protect our watershed.”

Another speaker, Lynn Anderson of Youngstown, expressed concern about what she said was a cracked protective casing at the CNX drilling site. “That is what conducts this pollution into the surface waters and into Meander Reservoir, so we need this well shut down,” Anderson said of the split.

“Do not sell 500,000 gallons of water a day ... to frack this well,” she urged.

However, Bethany McCorkle, communications chief for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, said: “There are no casing or cementing problems with CNX wells” in Jackson Township, Mahoning County, including the one on Blott Road.

The commissioners said they’d listen to and investigate complaints about oil and gas well drilling, but Commissioners Carol Rimedio Righetti and David Ditzler said ODNR issues oil and gas well drilling permits, not the county.

The county commissioners also bought six replacement sheriff’s cruisers for $166,054; a 2013 cargo van for the sanitary engineer’s office for $19,080; and a 2013 Ford Explorer for the county auditor’s real estate appraisal department for $25,791, all through a state purchasing cooperative.

Department representatives said they tried to buy vehicles from local vendors, but their prices weren’t competitive. James Fortunato, county purchasing director, said the county cannot legally give preference to local vendors if the prices are not competitive.

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