Climate & Energy Local News News

Injection Wells Disturb Community and Area’s Beauty

Story by Janice Brewer, Staff Writer
Photography by Rebecca Ciprus, Staff Photographer
Members of the Athens community came together on Friday, March 14, to discuss the increase in injection wells in the area during recent months. © Rebecca Ciprus
Members of the Athens community came together on Friday, March 14, to discuss the increase in injection wells in the area during recent months. © Rebecca Ciprus

On Friday, March 14, 2014, Loraine McCosker organized a panel of participants to speak up about the injection well dilemma Athens County is facing. The panelist included journalism professor Bernhard Debatin , geographer Harold Perkins, undergraduate and OUSSC president Caitlin McDaniel, and Athens County Commissioner Lenny Eliason. Those who were unaware learned that injection wells are injected with toxic waste leftover from the hydraulic fracturing process. Lorraine revealed that from 2012 to 2013 the number of barrels injected in Athens County increased from 77,951 barrels to 699,221 barrels. This is over an 800% increase! Of course the community is speaking up and demanding a stop to this.

The injection well process calls for permits and mineral rights, however this process is highly unregulated and requires no tax severances and it puts the beneficiary in financial success but leaves the community in danger. Injection wells are a potential hazard to a community with unregulated toxic waste, earthquakes, truck traffic, and no regular testing process. Injection wells require less regulation than landfills.

The water used for these injection wells is a threat to our closed water system. The water we have is all we have, so why are we taking it out and contaminating it? Bernhard gave an example: The water wasted in the maintenance of golf courses goes back into the water cycle; however, the water used for fracking and injection wells is drawn out from the waster cycle then polluted and wasted. This toxic water is under high pressure in the wells and migrates to other water ways and aquifers. The K & H injection well uses a large amount to stay functional. How will this water depletion and toxic waste affect future generations?

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Caitlyn McDaniel, president of the Ohio University Sierra Student Coalition, speaks during the town hall meeting.                © Rebecca Ciprus

Caitlin McDaniel made strong points. It is a good thing these people in the community are well paid for property purchases and injection well use because they have nothing else. They lose their health, their community, and their way of life. She asked why a community has to stand up, speak out, and rally against these threats in order for our leaders to do something about it. It is their job to do something about it.

Lenny Eliason explained what the effect will be on the aesthetic of the campus and community. We are the most beautiful county in Ohio with the most beautiful college campus in the state. Our rolling foothills simply don’t lie.

Destruction of these hills and the potential risk for water pollution will change the whole view of Athens and Ohio University which will deter tourists and future students. How will that affect economic development and the future of our community?

Our leaders know what they can do to solve these issues, but unfortunately it is only voluntary. They have the ability to step in and regulate the injection wells properly, but it is not required. The rules need to be changed to what they shall be doing, to what they MUST be doing.

 

Many resources are available to research about injection wells in Ohio:

Ohio.com/blogs/drilling/maps

Fracktracker.org

Loraine McCosker at the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs

The Ridges, Building 22, Room 206 | mccosker@ohio.edu

 

 

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Janice Brewer is a junior transfer student from Dayton, Ohio. She is majoring in Environmental Nutrition, which is a newly developed Applied Nutrition program through the Health Science and Professions College. She is also pursuing an Environmental Health Minor, a Business Administration Minor, and an Environmental Studies Certificate…

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