Water Well Testing at Site of Injection Protest Comes Back With Clean Results
After an anti-fracking protest led to an arrest at a K & H injection well site in 2014, activists in Athens, Ohio have since been on a mission to prove that injection wells cause groundwater contamination to aquifers, despite the fact that there has not been one single case of groundwater contamination in Ohio from injection wells. Today, we learned that new testing for volatile organic compounds in Ohio private water wells located near the K & H injection wells in Athens, Ohio showed no signs of oil and gas influence, according to reports from the Ohio University Voinovich School. The news comes after Athens County Commissioners announced joint partnerships last month with Ohio University to conduct a study to undertake the impact from injection wells on private water wells. Testing was conducted this fall and will be repeated in March.
The injection well site and water sampling are located close to both the Hocking and Ohio Rivers. It is also the same injection well site where an anti-fracking activist was arrested in 2014 for protesting. According to the Columbus Dispatch, the activist was “not convinced those measures (regulatory measures by the Ohio Department of National Resources to protect groundwater) will keep the county’s drinking water safe”. The same sentiment was echoed by the Buckeye Forest Council, and other activists groups who called upon the U.S. EPA to audit Ohio’s injection well program, citing groundwater contamination from injection wells as a root source to their claims that Ohio’s program is unsafe. In their letter they claimed, “The Profoundly Weak Federal Requirements for Class II Injection Well Delegation under Section 1425 of the Safe Drinking Water Act.” However, as EID has reported time and time again, the allegations against Ohio’s Class II Underground Injection Control (UIC) program are simply not factual. Ohio has some of the most stringent regulations in the country, and has been regulating the process since 1983, when EPA gave the state primacy over its program. According to ODNR:
“Managed by ODNR since 1983, the state’s Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program has successfully injected large volumes of oilfield wastes, protecting underground sources of drinking water and our ecosystem. Fees raised by injection wells support permitting, certification, and inspection of wells and service operation.”
The U.S. EPA responded with a full audit, giving the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) a green light to continue to administer the UIC Program. Since then, there has not been a single case of groundwater contamination. If ODNR was not doing its job and the standards were weak, this certainly wouldn’t be the case. This history is a matter of public record, and the Groundwater Protect Council has concurred. As GWPC Executive Director, Mike Paque, has stated:
“Ohio is at the forefront of regulating Class II injection wells and is continuously advancing regulations of the UIC program. ODNR’s ongoing efforts provide the necessary protections to help ensure that Ohio’s underground drinking water resources are safe.”
This shouldn’t be surprise, considering Ohio’s regulations are in fact more stringent that the federal government’s own standards.
Despite the result of the U.S. EPA audit, last month the Athens County contracted Ohio University to conduct a study that cost more than $15,000, which included baseline water testing for 10 testing sites, for a total of 20 total samples. The baseline testing would update water samples from 2013 to “detect any changes or trend in the water quality”. The groundwater well samples were taken within a 2-mile radius of the K & H Torch-area injection well sites.
“We’re trying to sample water from the aquifer that’s near these injection wells. So, we’re looking for groundwater wells that are within a two-mile radius of the injection wells, because if there was a contamination, that would be the place that could show up, in the aquifers.” Jennifer Bowman, environmental project manager, Ohio University Voinovich School
The sampling taken at the injection well sites produced results that showed no oil and gas influence to the groundwater.
“There was a little bit of methane detected, but it was below the maximum contaminate level, so nothing that would harm [to the environment]” Jennifer Bowman, environmental project manager, Ohio University Voinovich School
The groundwater samples in Athens are yet another example of the many reports and studies that continue to uphold the vast federal and state regulations that are in place to protect the health and safety of our aquifers. This news supports that injection wells are safe, regulated, and an essential component to Ohio’s oil and gas industry, which provides thousands of jobs, millions in tax revenues, and has supported over $33 billion in investment to the state.