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ODNR mum for now on Jackson Twp. well

Published: Fri, March 15, 2013 @ 12:05 a.m.


Tom Hill, regional supervisor for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, discusses environmental issues concerning CNX Gas Co.’s Blott Road well in Jackson Township at Thursday’s commissioners’ meeting.

By Jamison Cocklin



Members of the public and anti-fracking activists were turned away from the Mahoning County commissioners’ meeting with no answers to questions about an oil and gas well in Jackson Township.

The well, just off Blott Road and operated by Pittsburgh-based Consol Energy, is about three miles from Meander Reservoir — the primary drinking-water source for 220,000 people, including those in Youngstown and Niles.

The commissioners had invited three officials from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to explain an incident that occurred last October when a small portion of the well’s protective casing cracked, creating a 4-foot vertical split near the surface, stoking public concern over environmental contamination.

Instead, that explanation, led by ODNR regional supervisor Tom Hill, who oversees a group of well inspectors in the area, became what at times was a perplexing presentation on the science and dynamics of well construction at Thursday’s meeting.

What’s more, the presentation was prefaced by Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti, who informed a room full of more than 30 people that the state had requested all questions to be submitted in writing, with answers expected in about 10 days.

“Once again, the public is not allowed to enter into an open dialogue with ODNR,” said Susie Beiersdorfer, an activist with FrackFree Mahoning Valley and a part-time geology professor at Youngstown State University. “We have requested on multiple occasions to engage with them. Now that we have to submit our questions, it’s very frustrating.”

Activists have been seeking answers about the well for a month.

Bethany McCorkle, chief of communications for ODNR, said the meeting was not intended to be a public forum; rather, she said, questions will be answered within 10 days because they will need “specific information to answer.”

The issue at Consol’s Cadle well, as it is known, came to light when FrackFree first brought it to the attention of commissioners in early February.

John Fleming, an ODNR field inspector who was assigned to the site and spoke with The Vindicator after the meeting, explained that during testing on the well casing, a faulty pressure gauge misled operators, who inadvertently forced too much fresh water down it, which led to over-pressurization and the 4-foot crack in the casing.

Consol immediately contacted ODNR officials, who assessed the situation and requested repairs be made. No actual drilling for oil and gas occurred, Hill said. The fix was made and the casing was completed to the satisfaction of inspectors, he added.

Fracking, or the stage in which pipe is put down the well bore to force pressurized water, sand and chemicals to make fissures in shale rock, began last week at the well site.

“There was no harmful fluid; it was fresh water,” Hill said. “You have to have the casing set and tested before chemicals or sand can go in the ground.”

Casing typically is hollow steel pipe reinforced by cement and installed in isolated sections in a layered fashion. It provides isolated regions of protection between drilling operations and nearby aquifers, or groundwater sources.

When asked if the well pad, where the drilling rig rests, was in the reservoir’s watershed, both Fleming and Robert Worstall, a deputy chief of ODNR’s Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management, said no.

“They’re definitely in our drainage basin — it’s 85 square miles; there’s a little flow stream near the site, too,” said Thomas Holloway, chief engineer of the Mahoning Valley Sanitary District, which oversees the reservoir. “What that means is anything spilled within 85 square miles has the potential to make its way into the reservoir unless its absorbed by flat land in the area.”

Holloway explained, however, that other threats exist in the basin such as septic tanks and runoff from parking lots. The Cadle well, in full compliance with state law, is just one more thing his staff will have to monitor, he added.


1ytownsteelman(680 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

Could one of the antifrackers please go to fracfocus.org, pull up the data sheet on any of the wells in the area and list those chemicals that are hazardous at the concentrations listed. I think we need to get away from the fearmongering and posturing and really look at what is of concern. List specific chemicals and their concentrations, then cross reference that with the EPA drinking water standards and post here to this thread which ones exceed the drinking water standards.

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2chrisak811(12 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

Due to the Halliburton loophole, the gas industry is not required to reveal all of the chemicals used in the fracking process. As a result, no one really knows what chemicals might be released into our drinking water should a well casing fail.

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3Boar7734(66 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

YSU geologist appear to being doing more harm with their extremist positions. Academia geologist v.s. practicing geologist. ODNR wants to avoid the hysterics and combative antics of their positions. They would be further ahead addressing the Salt Water Injections Wells rather then all natural gas harvesting. Deep SWIW's can be done on as little as 5 acres as opposed to 40 needed for a harvesting deep well gas. Neighbors around 82 and Warner campaigned against a permit (D & L Energy application since vacated but can now be sold to another entity) for a SWIW in a residential area where no public water exists and has seen seismic activity. We rejected the geologist expertise as neighbors don't want to be put in the same extremist category. ODNR was receptive to concerns as we did so in a professional manner. Facts against SWIW's will be used if this lease is sold. (As a sidebar ODNR will receive $10,500 PER DAY for each SWIW that goes only to ODNR). The harvesting of natural gas is an important component of re-vitalization of this area. Their positions jeopardizes legitimate issues.

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4Debbie(22 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

Thank you for this article, Jamison Cocklin.

I'd like to know whether or not the commissioners now have a clear understanding of what is described in this article as "at times.....a perplexing presentation on the science and dynamics of well construction"? And is that what the ODNR representatives were invited to convey to the commissioners? That would be unbelievable since all of this information can be easily found online.

Do the values of ODNR conflict with the values of their own Wildlife Division, whose very first value is: "Input from constituents and open lines of communication with the public are essential." I would certainly hope not since, as an administrative arm of the
government of the State of Ohio, the public pays their wages and foots the bill for their benefits.

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5Cubbies(37 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

Steelman...tell you what, drink a glass of water with all the chemicals used at this fracking site and then tell us if you don't get sick....

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6Debbie(22 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

I posted above, but now feel I need to add this. The oil/gas industry bulldozes into communities and thrusts itself upon local elected and appointed officials with offers of money and other perks and, as a result, upon a citizenry who has no say in the matter. It's all done in a way that offers no contingency plan, no crisis response plan whatsoever, in the event that a tragic catastrophe occurs as a direct result of this industry's activities. Does YOUR community have a solid plan in place that would immediately and sufficiently meet the needs of its citizens if/when your drinking water becomes permanently damaged? It happens, after all, in the blink of an eye. Have YOUR city or township administrators advised you on where to go, who to contact, what to do in the event of a fracking-related or toxic disposal-related community-wide crisis? I live in Boardman and my community has been silent on this matter. Youngstown (more precisely, Mayor Sammarone) wants to open the door wide to fracking, but has not yet uttered a word about what to do in a fracking-related community emergency. Why is that? Was there not time to do so? A plan should have been publicized prior to ANY gas/oil industry activity anywhere. Or maybe there will finally be a detailed contingency plan for households and communities on the front page of this Sunday's edition of the Youngstown Vindicator.

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7Metz10987(145 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

This meeting was all a sham. THey staed info pretty much everyone knows or has likely already reserached onlinbe. They offered no proof the well is structurally sound and even made a silly comment that the well pad is not in The Meander Creek Watershed. Guess they do not know what a watershed is, it is the area draining into a creek or river plus the creeks themselves that go into a rimary creek or river, in this case Meander Creek. With the well only 3 miles from Meander this is a clear lie. All faith in the ODNR is lsot by me and many others and whatever they say is also highly suspect.

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8Metz10987(145 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

I agree this is Russian Rullete with our water supply They are cting like nothing can or wil go wrong but every week a spill or blowout occurs. One jut happened in Wyoming County PA yesterday. The problem is the process of drilling and fracking is complex which makes it more likely things go wropng. Add in the fact that companies cut corners and it makes the poroblem worse. If something goes wrong at this well the ODNR and Mahoning county will have many questions to answer and the industry will lkely be done. Our drinkig water supply will be unusable for quite some time and we will have to use bottled water

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9williamsbilly201(18 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

All of you should protest by turning your gas furnaces off when it is 30 degrees outside. Then you will show these oilmen you mean business

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10cambridge(4132 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

Ytown.....uselessshill does a great job of representing the industry. He lets you you know exactly what their priorities are, what they think of the locals and the environment. It's important knowing who you're dealing with....now you know.

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11Metz10987(145 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

Spreaking of earthquakes they jsut had one in Ashtabula County yesterday around 7 p.m. Just reported today. 2.1 at a depth of 3.1 miles or 5 km similar to the ones in youngstown in depth and magnitude Not saying fracking is the cause as the Lake Erie shoreline is prone to quakes and has a ciuple every year but it is worth noting.

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12cambridge(4132 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

uselessshill....That's hilarious, you smack me down. Here are the threads where you claim that Land Fill Gas used for the production of electricity isn't clean, green and renewable even though I provide links that prove it is. One of the links is from the state of texas. But just like ABC's link the shows how widespread fracking pollution is you ignore facts when they're right in front of you. In every thread you end up crawling away.

You're a loser scab boomer who couldn't find work in texas. it does pay a little better than the carnival, although I'm sure living out of a fifth wheel and cheap motels must get old and I'm sure having to register with the police department in every new town must be fun.




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