DuBois Resident Continues Opposition of Proposed Well
CLEARFIELD –DuBois resident Marianne Atkinson sought support from the Clearfield County Commissioners, as she continues to oppose the proposed disposal injection well off Highland Street Extension in Brady Township.
Windfall Oil and Gas of Falls Creek has proposed the well for disposing wastewater from hydraulic fracturing of Marcellus shale natural gas drilling operations. Atkinson opposes the construction of the disposal injection well, as it would be located only two miles from city limits and could contaminate residents’ water.
Atkinson said deep mines exist within the quarter-mile review area for the proposed disposal injection well. She said the deep mines begin in Sandy Township and stretch to the area of the DuBois Mall.
“If there was ever a breach with frack water, it could go so far as the DuBois Mall and into Sandy Lick Creek,” she said.
In addition, she said two, large faults are located near the proposed well site; one is 1.2 miles away and the other is 2 miles away.
She said that earthquake issues arose in Youngstown, OH, where they have blamed it on Class 2 injection wells nearby. She said her neighbor has owned a farm and there are rock faults beneath it.
She pointed out that EXCO Resources operated an injection well in Bell Township, which malfunctioned. Since then the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reached a $159,624 settlement with EXCO Resources regarding failed mechanical integrity at the disposal injection well.
Atkinson said that the Jefferson County Commissioners are writing their own injection well ordinance. She asked the commissioners if they had any plans to do the same in Clearfield County.
Commissioner Mark B. McCracken said he’s been in touch with Jefferson County Commissioner Jeff Pisarcik and notified county Solicitor Kim Kesner. He said it would be difficult to craft such an ordinance to stand up in court.
“We’re looking carefully to see if such an ordinance could supersede the EPA,” he said. McCracken said the state supersedes the county and the federal supersedes the state.
Kesner said he’s not aware of any drafts of an injection well ordinance in Jefferson County. He believed any public conception that the Jefferson County Commissioners are writing such an ordinance is misleading.
Atkinson said House Bill 2350, known as the Injection Well Safe Water Act, was in all likelihood dead, as it remains before the state’s Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.
In April, state rep. Camille “Bud” George, D-74 of Houtzdale introduced this legislation, which was co-sponsored by state rep. Matt Gabler, R-75 of Clearfield and Elk counties.
Commissioner Joan Robinson-McMillen said they would lobby for Gabler to reintroduce similar legislation next year. She said they also needed to lobby for the same from whoever replaces George.
“This isn’t something that just affects Brady Township. This is something that affects the entire county,” said Robinson-McMillen.
House Bill 2350 proposed a two-year moratorium on the drilling of any new injection wells used for disposing of oil or gas waste. The bill would not affect existing wells. However, any wells drilled after Jan. 1 of this year, including the well proposed in Brady Township, would not be allowed to accept the drilling waste.
George’s legislation also contains other water protection measures that would remain in effect after the moratorium expires. For example, the bill includes a 2,000-foot setback from private water supplies, unless consent is granted by the owner of the private water well, as well as a 5,500-foot setback from public water supplies.
The bill bans the deep waste-disposal wells in floodplains and provides a 2,000-foot setback from trout streams and High Quality/Exceptional Value waterways.
To address the earthquake issues in Ohio, which have been blamed on injection wells near Youngstown, George included a provision in his bill that mandates a 2,000-foot setback from known geologic fault lines.
Other provisions include a continuous pressure monitoring system at the injection wells, automatic shut-off systems when the pressure exceeds its maximum level and electronic data recording systems for purposes of tracking all fluids brought to the well for injection.
The commissioners told Atkinson that they would contact Gabler regarding the injection well issue.