Ohio city questions future fracking wells
Alarmed over a string of earthquakes linked to deep wells in nearby Youngstown, authorities in Mansfield, Ohio have threatened to block construction of two similar waste disposal wells planned within their city limits.
Ohio has over 170 active disposal wells, though only recently has it become permissable to use them for disposal of out-of-state waste from fracking, a controversial process to drive gas and oil out of underground rock.
Now, fresh questions about their safety are being raised in the wake of 11 earthquakes that struck Youngstown last year, all centered near wells used for disposal of fracking waste.
In Mansfield, city officials are reconsidering plans to allow two new 5,000 foot waste disposal wells to be built. Last spring, an Austin, Texas-based company, Preferred Fluids Management, obtained a drilling permit for the wells.
The city wants Preferred Fluids Management to pay for the testing of every tanker of fluid previously discarded in the Mansfield wells and a full geological survey of the area. Otherwise, officials said, the city will fight the drilling.
"The city of Mansfield will be the first as a whole to oppose the injection disposal wells," John Spon, the city of Mansfield's law director, told Reuters.
There is a new demand for fracking fluid disposal in Ohio, because Pennsylvania no longer allows fracking companies to treat and then dump the water used in the process. To deal with waste, disposal wells are drilled to specific geological depths, and millions of gallons of leftover fluid are injected or sandwiched into the rock.
One obstacle city officials face is a 2004 law exempting these types of wells from urban zoning rules, essentially giving Ohio Department of Natural Resources exclusive jurisdiction.
"We are not going to concede that the state of Ohio can dictate the operation of these wells," Spon said.
Photo credit: http://www.city-data.com/picfilesc/picc14692.php