Packed house for Trumbull Co. injection well meeting

Group meets in Warren, Ohio to talk about injection well laws

WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – Nearly 70 people packed into the Trumbull County Commissioners hearing room on Wednesday to talk about injection wells.

Township trustees, commissioners, and concerned citizens, some from as far away as Athens and Morrow County, were all in attendance. The group was talking about what they can do to change the state’s injection well laws.

A committee made up of the township trustees association in Trumbull and Ashtabula counties, Trumbull County Commissioner Dan Polivka and Trumbull County engineer Randy Smith presented the crowd with a list of 11 changes they would like to see when it comes to the permitting process.

These are the proposed changes:

  • Notice of an application for a permit also should be sent to all governmental entities, landowners and school districts within the area of review. Currently, notice of an application is only sent to well owners and well operators within the area of review.
  • Current law states that the area of review for small wells is 0.25 miles and the area of review for larger wells is 0.5 miles. The proposal wants to include in the area of review landowners within 0.5 miles for all wells regardless of size, and government entities and school districts within 6 miles.
  • Permit applications should include a traffic impact study conducted by the county engineer with a fee established by the State Engineer Association. Currently, no traffic impact study is required.
  • Under current law, comments and objections to proposed applications must be filed within 15 days. Trumbull County Commissioners want to expand that comment period to 28 days.
  • Require a Road Use Maintenance Agreement (RUMA) for all well drilling activity, whether existing or proposed. There currently is no requirement for RUMAs.
  • Move permit objection hearings from Columbus to the nearest Ohio Department of Natural Resources district office.
  • Limit hours of operation from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays for injection wells not located within industrial zones. Currently, there is no limit on hours of operation.
  • Require a landscaping plan consisting of a buffer zone within a minimum of 100 feet from well consisting of earthen berms, fencing, walls, trees or shrubbery. Currently, there is no requirement for noise abatement or visual sight barriers.
  • New injection wells should adhere to the same setback requirements currently in place for shallow wells. There is no setback requirement currently.
  • Injection well sites are required to have water testing wells drilled on the site and provide testing results to the ODNR at least quarterly. The proposal suggests a groundwater monitoring system similar to that proposed for landfill facilities under OAC 3745-27-10. Currently, there is no requirement for water testing. As a result, the department is only notified after a spill has reached adjoining properties.
  • Injection well sites must monitor the escape of noxious vapors into the air and to provide such data on a quarterly basis to the ODNR. There are currently no requirements for air quality monitoring.

“I think it is a good start. I think they should be more aggressive only because we are dealing with what happened when you had a failure with a brine injection well. I do think it is a good start, but this is a start that should have been four years ago,” Vienna resident Mary Swift said.

Others would like more involvement in the conversation.

“We were not included in the process, so moving forward we have asked to be included in that process so we can help folks understand why some of these things are feasible or not,” Mike Chadsey of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association said.

More meetings on this topic are planned in the future.

“Our hope is that with more of us together that we can come together, explain to our legislators, which hopefully they listen, that there needs to be a coordination of effort on the state level,” Liberty Trustee Jodi Stoyak said.

“We have to reach some sort of compromise but currently, we are not asked, we are being told, and sometimes not even being told because they don’t communicate with us,” Vienna Trustee Phil Pegg said. “Most of my concern is with the state of Ohio. It is the state, it is their responsibility. They claim that they are the experts, that they can properly regulate it. Well, they failed us.”

Pegg is especially concerned with what has happened in Vienna. Last month, an oil spill happened at a storage facility on Kleese Development Associates property on Sodom Hutchings Road. 

There are 202 active injection wells in Ohio, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

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