Some of the key findings from the Ohio-specific Earthworks report summary: “Even as shale gas development surges in Ohio, the state has done little to strengthen regulations and procedures related to waste management. HB59, passed in 2013, directed ODNR to adopt rules for waste storage and disposal—but critical regulations have still not been put forward for public review and adoption. As a result, operators and disposal facilities have wide discretion to decide whether waste is contaminated and how to dispose of it…
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) do not track or report volumes, origins, or destinations of solid waste (e.g., drill cuttings, muds, and fracturing sand).
Draft regulations do not include standards or limits related to waste storage and treatment methods, volumes, or chemical parameters, nor specify any practices (e.g., reserve pit burial or brine evaporation) that would be prohibited.
Ohio doesn’t require operators to conduct chemical testing of drill cuttings disposed of at well sites or verify that they are “uncontaminated” according to the law. State agencies only recommend that landfills obtain documentation from operators about the content of waste.
No public information is available on the number, location, or use of pits and impoundments. Ohio doesn’t have specific requirements for the construction and use of pits and impoundments. Draft changes to related regulations only request that operators use “sound engineering design and construction, and commonly accepted industry practices.”
In 2014, ODNR issued authorizations for 23 waste facilities to process oil and gas field waste using “Chief’s Orders” that circumvent public notification requirements and local government review. Even though companies in Ohio are pursuing projects to repurpose drill cuttings and other waste, Ohio doesn’t have any regulations on the “beneficial use” of oil and gas field waste.
Operators are prohibited from disposing of Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (TENORM) waste at well sites and disposal facilities have limits on concentrations of radioactive elements. But such rules don’t apply to drill cuttings or brine, which can go into landfills with no testing because ODNR defines as them as Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (NORM). This distinction makes disposal easier for operators but creates environmental risks. Nor does Ohio require radiation detectors at solid waste facilities.
Nearly all of Ohio’s produced water and fluid waste is disposed of in the state’s underground injection wells. Between 2011 and 2014, the volume of waste injected underground increased by 75%. Ohio does not require operators to test or disclose the chemicals in its waste prior to injection.
Ohio does not have procedures or requirements in place to verify that “brine” spread on roads for de-?icing and dust suppression is produced water, not flowback. The state’s definition of brine includes flowback water from hydraulic fracturing.” more..
4.0 M earthquake strikes close to o&g operation near Guthrie OK. 3-8-15
2.1 M earthquake strikes near injection well in SE Ohio, approximately 4 mi. east of Marietta, picked up by local seismic monitors. “‘There are some naturally occurring faults in the area. There is some injection well activity in that area,” according to an Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ spokesperson. Why would ODNR allow injection wells near faults? 3-5-15
High level of benzene found in frackwaste: LA Times 2-15
Great coverage of Athens County Commissioners’ December 30 meeting on the K&H3 injection well permit application. The meeting was the result of ACFAN’s request to the Commissioners to host a public meeting, given the timing of the public comment period over the holidays. At least 120 people attended the meeting. Dozens spoke, all opposed to the well. An audio recording of the meeting was submitted by the Commissioners to ODNR along with their own comments and those of citizens who requested the Commissioners report their opposition to the well.
New research indicates “that discharge and accidental spills of OGW [oil and gas waste] to waterways pose risks to both human health and the environment.” Harkness, et al. Iodide, Bromide, and Ammonium in Hydraulic Fracturing and Oil and Gas Wastewaters: Environmental Implications. Environmental Science and Technology, 2015.
See front page post on K&H3 permit application. 12-14. Happy New Year. Many excellent comments submitted to ODNR on this application. Here are a few: Bernhard Debatin: K&H3 comments; R Groff comments K&H#3, Athens Conservancy K&H3 comments (no maps)
Tributary of New River contaminated by injection well upstream, according to Duke University researchers. 12-25-14. Merry Christmas.
“Fracking Waste Puts Americans’ Drinking Water at Risk,” NRDC’s Amy Mall discusses July GAO report, 7-14
Attorney Terry Lodge’s comments with legal arguments on GreenHunter barge dock proposal: TLodge Comments to Corps 7-28-14 with sign-ons. We WON a bargedock comment extension! — to Aug. 24. Thanks to ACFAN local efforts, multi-state coalition outreach, and a Food and Water Watch alert, close to four thousand people called on US Corps to conduct a public hearing and authorize an Environmental Impact Statement on GreenHunter’s private frackwaste barge dock facility proposed for Meigs County. Pdf of model comments here and of abbreviated ones here. 8-25-14
ACFAN appeal of the K&H2 permit moves on to Franklin County Court of Common Pleas following the state Oil and Gas Commission’s decision not to grant ACFAN’s appeal. ACFAN’s attorney, Richard Sahli, stated, “The Oil & Gas Commission essentially said it was deferring to the DNR’s decision on how it issues permits on these facilities and that these important permits can never be appealed by anyone across the state. The Commission never considered whether DNR acted lawfully in this regard. ACFAN will be seeking a decision on DNR’s compliance with its own regulations in this appeal.” 6-14
ACFAN and Appalachia Resist! file complaint with USEPA, call on federal intervention in Ohio injection well program. 6-14
Waste injected in Ohio in 2013:
Total waste injected= 16,354,784 bbls or 686,900,928 gallons
From in-state: 8,076,820 bbls. Out of state: 8,277,964 bbls
Top 10 receiving county’s bbls (each barrel is 42 gallons):
As of 3-3-14 Ohio had 234 permitted Class II injection wells with 202 active.
Review of radioactivity and toxicity of Marcellus frackwaste, which is mostly coming to Ohio, Tracy Carluccio, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, 2012
ACFAN Public Records Complaint 3-14, filed in Franklin County Court of Appeals against ODNR for withholding public records requested January 16, 2014.
New peer-reviewed research: Oil and gas wells and their integrity: Implications for shale and unconventional resource exploitation, Davies, R. et al., Marine and Petroleum Geology, in press, 2014. Findings have implications for injection wells as well, since there would be no reason that they would experience greater integrity:
“Of the 8030 wells targeting the Marcellus shale inspected in Pennsylvania between 2005 and 2013, 6.3% of these have been reported to the authorities for infringements related to well barrier or integrity failure. In a separate study of 3533 Pennsylvanian wells monitored between 2008 and 2011, there were 85 examples of cement or casing failures, 4 blowouts and 2 examples of gas venting.”
The article also notes that Ohio has Ohio 9500 unplugged orphaned wells and plans to plug 524 of them. Orphaned wells provide channels for movement of methane, frack fluids, and waste. Many of these are unmapped. Ohio does not monitor active, plugged, or abandoned wells for potential water contamination. Even plugged wells can become conduits, since the plugging is often unsound, especially historically and due to low Ohio standards. Note that the 9500 figure is probably a vast underestimate based on these numbers: the Ohio RBDMS database shows that Ohio has had at least 265,902 wells with around 70,000 operating wells. From 1965 – 2013, 41,928 wells were plugged, according to ODNR. Subtracting (~70k + 42k) from ~266k leaves more than 150,000 wells unaccounted for.
ACFAN Files Countermotion, Calls Shame on Kasich Collusion with O&G Industry, Calls out Kasich on Parks Statement Ploy. Published also at Ohio.com (Akron Beacon Journal) 2-19-14. Front page Athens Messenger coverage here, 2-20-14
ACFAN files notice of appeal of K&H2 permit. 1-8-14
Torch area residents voice concerns over permit. WTAP, Parkersburg 12-17-13
Athens City Council votes unanimously to oppose permitting of the K&H2 injection well based on health and safety concerns, especially given recent seismic activity in the area and the inability of concrete to guarantee well integrity in an earthquake. 12-2-13
See ACFAN front page posts on USGS data uncertainty on Athens quake, ODNR misinformation, (and here), and Athens County Commissioners’ Nov. 27 letter to ODNR calling for a moratorium on K&H permitting and a complete seismic study of the region around the K&H site.
More than 150 earthquakes shake Oklahoma in one week, according to Oklahoma Geological Survey. OK quakes have been linked in the scientific literature to injection and fracking wells (see below) . 2-18-14
Swarms of Earthquakes Shake Up Shale Gas Fields: an article on quakes and associations with fracking, injection wells, and oil/gas extraction around the globe. 1-14
The following peer-reviewed papers present recent research on injection and seismicity, including 1) the lack of adequate monitoring, reporting technology, and ability to accurately locate and characterize quakes <2M, 2) patterns in fluid-induced quakes that contradict ODNR statements, including the depth of injection that can induce quakes, and 3) indications that volume of injected fluids may not limit the mainshock magnitude and/or cumulative release (#1, below):
1. Sumy, D. F., E. S. Cochran, K. M. Keranen, M. Wei, and G. A. Abers, Observations of static Coulomb stress triggering of the November 2011 M5.7 Oklahoma earthquake sequence, J. Geophys. Res. Solid Earth, 119, March 2014. From conclusion: “Our findings suggest that the volume of fluid injection may not limit the mainshock magnitude and/or cumulative moment release, as McGarr  previously suggested. Static Coulomb stress changes due to Event A are consistent with triggering of Event B, which suggests that fluid induced events such as the M5.0 foreshock in Oklahoma, can trigger larger events if a nearby fault is critically stressed. This key, but not unexpected, observation has implications for estimating seismic hazard from injection. “
2. Katie M. Keranen et al., “Potentially induced earthquakes in Oklahoma, USA: Links between wastewater injection and the 2011 Mw 5.7 earthquake sequence,” Geology, vol. 41(6), pp. 699–702, June 2013
3. Cliff Frohlich, Michael Brunt, “Two-year survey of earthquakes and injection/production wells in the Eagle Ford Shale, Texas, prior to the MW4.8 20 October 2011 earthquake,” Earth and Planetary Science Letters 379, pp. 56–63 (2013). [Areas of Texas that had never experienced earthquakes have had numerous ones tied to oil production and waste injection, the most recent being over 20 in November, 2013. An update on continuing Texas earthquake swarm here.]
4. William L. Ellsworth, “Injection-Induced Earthquakes,” Science, vol. 341 (July 2013)
5. Nicholas J. van der Elst, et al., “Enhanced Remote Earthquake Triggering at Fluid-Injection Sites in the Midwestern United States,” Science vol. 341 (2013)
USGS on recent increase in seismicity in central and eastern US: “The number of earthquakes has increased dramatically over the past few years within the central and eastern United States. More than 300 earthquakes above a magnitude 3.0 occurred in the three years from 2010-2012, compared with an average rate of 21 events per year observed from 1967-2000….USGS scientists have found that at some locations the increase in seismicity coincides with the injection of wastewater in deep disposal wells.” The article goes on to address the research supporting links between injection and quakes. 1-17-14
Devon “Produced water” MSDS: Note the widely contradictory information on toxicity based on when hazards are exempted from classification as hazardous and under what circumstances they’re not.
Athens County Commissioners announce public meeting on injection wells and K&H2 application in response to ACFAN request. Meeting will be held Nov. 19, 7-9 p.m., at the Athens Community Center. Talking points: Injection Wells 101 and Why USEPA must revoke Ohio’s Authority over Class II Injection Wells.
Athens County Commissioners adopt resolution calling on ODNR to shut down Ginsburg injection well: Ginsburg Injection Well Resolution.
Athens area residents provided testimony, being submitted by Buckeye Forest Council and allies to USEPA Region 5, documenting extremely negligent and dangerous management by ODNR of its Injection Well (UIC) program. The testimony calls on USEPA to take away ODNR’s primacy or control of the UIC program. Some key testimony:
Support Ohio House Bill 148 and Senate Bill 278 injection well ban legislation introduced by Rep. Denise Driehaus and Rep. Robert Hagan and Senator Mike Skindell. Here’s why: Ohio Injection wells – Did You Know? Write your state legislator and urge support of HB 148 and SB 178 to end injection of highly toxic, radioactive waste in Ohio communities. Injection wells are basically just holes in the ground. All wells eventually corrode and leak. Class II wells are not built to receive hazardous waste. They are not monitored for leakage and contamination of water supplies. (Even Class 1 hazardous waste wells in Ohio have leaked.)
New report documents radioactivity in frack waste coming into Ohio 6-13
Injection Well Ban: Is Ohio a “Watchdog or Lapdog”? – Public News Service, 5-30-13: COLUMBUS, Ohio – A new bill in the state Legislature would halt the disposal of toxic fracking waste into injection wells in Ohio. The legislation, House Bill 148, proposed by Reps. Denise Driehaus, D-Cincinnati, and Bob Hagan, D-Youngstown, would ban the use of Class II fracking injection wells. Waste from hydraulic fracturing is toxic and full of unknown chemicals, Hagan said, adding that it is largely unregulated. “The biggest issue is (to) become a watchdog, not a lapdog to the industry,” Hagan said. “I’m not against fracking per se, but I’m certainly concerned about the injection wells and what that may hold for us in 10, 15 years.” More…
Further evidence of injection well-induced seismicity, linking Oklahoma magnitude 5.7 quake to frack waste. New peer-review study published in . From abstract: “…Significantly, this case indicates that decades-long lags between the commencement of fluid injection and the onset of induced earthquakes are possible, and modifies our common criteria for fluid-induced events. The progressive rupture of three fault planes in this sequence suggests that stress changes from the initial rupture triggered the successive earthquakes, including one larger than the first.”
Intentional frack waste dumping proliferates in Ohio: hazardous substances found in rivers from this dumping include benzene, toluene, (from the dumping of as much as 250,000 gallons into a Mahoning River tributary) and “significant concentrations of barium…” (from the 800,000 gallons dumped into Rock Run in Washington County). Federal charges have resulted but the confessed perpetrators walk free. More on Mahoning case at acfan blog post. February 2013
What If: A fracking truck accident we hope never happens, Sandra Sleight-Brennan, 2-13
Athens News 1-10-13: ODNR Director Needs to Explain Double Standard on Injection Wells, P. Cantino Readers’ Forum; ODNR Chief Guilty of Hypocrisy, Ellyn Burnes letter to ed
“Regulators say redundant layers of protection usually prevent waste from getting that far, but EPA data shows that in the three years analyzed by ProPublica, more than 7,500 well test failures involved what federal water protection regulations describe as ‘fluid migration’ and ‘significant leaks.'” More… and “Most injection well permits strictly limit the maximum pressure allowed, but well operators — rushing to dispose of more waste in less time — sometimes break the rules, state regulatory inspections show. According to data provided by states to the EPA, deep well operators have been caught exceeding injection pressure limits more than 1,100 times since 2008.
“Excessive pressure factored into a 1989 well failure [in Ohio] that yielded new clues about the risks of injection. More… ,and
“Clefts left after the earth is cracked open to frack for oil and gas also can connect abandoned wells and waste injection zones. How far these man-made fissures go is still the subject of research and debate, but in some cases they have reached as much as a half-mile, even intersecting fractures from neighboring wells.” and “Since 1988, all material resulting from the oil and gas drilling process is considered non-hazardous, regardless of its content or toxicity.” More…
Propublica: The trillion gallon loophole: Lax rules for drillers that inject pollutants, Abrahm Lustgarten, Sept. 2012:
“…Recently, Stark Concerned Citizens, an anti-drilling group, asked Ohio regulators why radioactive materials such as radium weren’t identified or disclosed when injected into Class 2 wells. ‘The law allows it,’ Tom Tomastik, a geologist with Ohio’s Department of Natural Resources and a national expert on injection well regulation, replied in a Sept. 17 email. ‘It does not matter what is in it. As long as it comes from the oil and gas field it can be injected.’” More…
Athens Messenger: For Shame, Mr. Zehringer, R. McGinn letter to ed, 1-11-13
OIL AND GAS: Caves create long-term water contamination concerns, EnergyWire: The takeaway from the incident for James Goodbar, who leads the Bureau of Land Management’s caves and karst resources program, was that oil wells do fail after a few decades.”
Michele Papai UIC comments re rule changes
PressReleaseEmergencyUICNewRules ODNR Aug. 15, 2012
Injection wells: the hidden risks Propublica June 2012
NBC4 Investigates: What’s In The Drilling Waste Water Traveling Into Ohio?
see other reports at acfan.org/water-air-and-health/