Brookfield location in Trumbull County
MDN recently received a tip from a reader that Highland Field Services (subsidiary of Seneca Resources, which itself is a subsidiary of National Fuel Gas Company) began drilling a new wastewater injection well in Brookfield (Trumbull County), Ohio. This is the third (of five) injection wells Highland has received permits to drill in Highland.
In June 2017 the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR) approved permits for two Highland frack wastewater injection wells in Brookfield (see ODNR Approves Plans for 2 New Trumbull County Injection Wells). At the time, anti-fracking nutters called the ODNR approval “immoral.” Whatever. Highland subsequently drilled both wells–although we don’t know their operational status.
In March 2018, ODNR issued permits/permission to Highland to drill three more injection wells in Brookfield, close to the existing two (see ODNR Grants Permits for 3 New Injection Wells in Trumbull County). Nearby residents strongly objected (see Trumbull Co. Residents Rally to Oppose 3 New Injection Wells).
The locals appealed ODNR’s order that would allow at least one (maybe the first?) of the wells to begin operation.
Discussions over an appeal filed by Brookfield residents who seek to reverse the state’s authorization for a company to begin operating one of its injection wells will likely happen after the start of the new year.
Linda Osterman, executive director of Ohio’s Oil and Gas Commission, said the appeal last month did not include a request for the company, Highland Field Services, to avoid operating its well during the appeal process.
The commission reviews grievances stemming from orders by the chief of Ohio’s Oil and Gas Division of the Department of Natural Resources. The appeal requests that the commission review the chief’s order from October that gave the final approval for Highland Field Services, a subsidiary of Seneca Resources, to begin operating its No. 5 injection well under certain safety conditions.
Injection wells force wastewater from the gas and oil industry deep underground as a means of disposal.
Osterman said the commission, which serves as an advisory council, will schedule a conference call between the counsels advising the Brookfield Citizens Against Injection Wells group and ODNR to set a hearing date. Ohio law doesn’t set time limits for the appeals.
Highland Field Services could file a motion to intervene, she added.
Rob Boulware, spokesman for Seneca Resources, said the injection well likely won’t begin drilling until after the start of the new year.
With regard to the chief’s order, he said, “ODNR has parameters for where companies can drill wells for production or for injection, and all five injection wells permitted on that location sit within the guidelines prescribed by ODNR.”
James Yskamp and Andrew Karas of Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services represent the residents, and argue that the injection well is unlawful because it “infringes on local Ohio residents’ alienable rights of enjoying life and liberty, and it infringes on their happiness and safety.”
Township trustees and some Brookfield Township residents, including those who live in Wyngate Manor nearby, have long opposed the wells, citing concerns of earthquake and environmental impact.
The appeal cited incidents such as the earthquake caused by an injection well in Youngstown in 2011 and argues that most homes in the area couldn’t withstand seismic activity. It also claims residents’ water supply could be affected by well operations.
When the chief’s order was issued in October, a spokesman for ODNR said, “The injection well complies with the requirement of [Ohio law], does not jeopardize public health or safety, and is in accordance with good conservation practices.”*
The appeal filed last November:
An MDN reader recently sent along this screen shot showing a rig has arrived and has begun drilling a new saltwater (i.e. wastewater) injection well on Jan. 19. Note the designation of this well is #4, which seems to indicate the appeal filed in November (for #5) was to block commencement of operations on the already-drilled #5 well, not the drilling of this #4 well.
Our take is that the well now being drilled, #4, is the third such well Highland will have drilled in Brookfield.
Bottom Line: Highland is drilling another new wastewater injection well in Brookfield, right now, which we believe is the third such well. And either the first or second well to be drilled (#5) will go online soon.
*Youngstown (OH) Vindicator (Dec 8, 2018) – Brookfield residents file appeal in attempt to stop injection well
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