Valley company appealing injection well ruling
AWMS Water Solutions of Howland continues its effort to open its injection well in Weathersfield.
The company has filed an appeal of a decision of the Ohio oil and gas commission regarding how the well will operate when it resumes operations.
Small earthquakes caused it to close in 2014.
Attorney Matthew Vansuch, who represents AWMS and is a Howland trustee, notified Franklin County Common Pleas Court this month that AWMS is filing an administrative appeal of the June 30 decision by the oil and gas commission.
Administrative appeals of rulings by many state boards, such as the oil and gas commission, are tried in Franklin County Common Pleas Court.
This commission ruled that the restart order issued by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources — indicating the rules by which the injection well could reopen — are lawful and reasonable.
AWMS Water Solutions LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Avalon Holdings Corp. of One American Way in Howland.
Attempts by the newspaper last week to reach the company and its legal counsel for comment on the appeal were unsuccessful.
AWMS opened two injection wells on state Route 169 just north of Niles in 2014.
The ODNR, however, shut down the wells in September 2014 after AWMS 2 caused multiple earthquakes, including a magnitude 1.7 earthquake July 28, 2014, about two months after the well started operation; and a magnitude 2.1 quake Aug. 31, 2014, according to the ODNR.
Following years of legal action, the Ohio Supreme Court reversed a lower court decision in 2020, and AWMS No. 2 was allowed to reopen.
AWMS, however, did not agree with the parameters under which the ODNR said the well would be allowed to stay open.
The restart order requires that the well close again if an earthquake of magnitude 2.1 or larger occurs, which AWMS found to be too restrictive.
In a filing connected to the appeal, the ODNR stated that it chose 2.1 magnitude because that is the level where an earthquake “may be felt by the community and raise anxiety over safety.”
AWMS appealed the restart order to the Ohio Oil and Gas Commission, which ruled June 30 in favor of the ODNR restart order.
Judge Kimberly Cocroft set a schedule of dates by which the parties should submit legal briefs in the case, starting with AWMS filing its first brief Oct. 18, followed by an ODNR brief and a followup AWMS brief, both in November.
Cocroft is the same judge who heard an earlier administrative appeal of an Ohio Oil and Gas Commission ruling. She ruled in late 2016 that the oil and gas commission work out the details with AWMS to reopen the well, but the ODNR appealed Cocroft’s decision.
That led to the Ohio Supreme Court decision favorable to AWMS, and then the ODNR’s rule making the parameters under which the well would reopen.