WJAC-TV: EPA Discusses Injection Wells

CLEARFIELD COUNTY – The ever-growing Marcellus Shale industry has been booming across Pennsylvania. In the state, northern counties have experienced the effects more than others.

The industry has been credited for providing more jobs and boosting the local economy. The Marcellus Shale industry has also created much debate over the last couple of years.

In Clearfield County, a debate has been looming over Brady Township for the last few months. A disposal injection well has been proposed in DuBois along the Highland Street Extension.

On Monday afternoon, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) visited Clearfield County to discuss what injection wells are and the permitting process for gas companies. Disposal wells are not new. In fact, the EPA has been overseeing them in Pennsylvania since the 1980s.

In Clearfield County, there are currently two injection wells. There is one in Ferguson Township, the Spencer Injection Well, which was permitted in 1988 and has been in use ever since. The EPA tests the well every two years and since it was placed in Clearfield County, there haven’t been any problems. The well is located on a 65-acre site at 1155 Cemetery Rd.

The second well is in Bell Township and was permitted by the EPA in 2005. The well, which is named Irvin A-19 injection well, sits on a 118-acre site on Frantz Hollow Road. Recently, the EPA fined EXCO Resources, the company that owns the well, after officials said the well experienced a mechanical failure.

Authorities said that “the penalty is based on the gravity of the violations and on avoided expenses associated with the continued injection of brine during the period of failed mechanical integrity. There wasn’t any documented contamination to underground sources of drinking water.”

Highland Street Extension residents have addressed concerns about the proposed well, noting the incident a few miles away in Bell Township.

The EPA assured local officials that injection wells inject waste very deep in the earth’s surface. One EPA official said drinking water is between 200 – 400 feet below the earth’s surface. He said that the injection well is thousands of feet below the earth’s surface.

EPA officials told local officials they are aware recent earthquakes near the Youngstown area were triggered by nearby disposal wells.

Officials said they plan on looking into the faults near Brady Township.

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