Ohio, Monroe County Officials Comment on Sunday Earthquake

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources halted fracking operations in the vicinity of the site of the 3.0 magnitude earthquake that took place near Woodsfield early Sunday.

The U.S. Geological Survey and the Monroe County Board of Commissioners both said no damage was reported from the quake. Commissioner Carl Davis, who lives in Woodsfield, said he felt nothing.

“I didn’t notice the quake, and I haven’t talked with anyone so far who has. There were no reports of any damage to the sheriff’s department,” Davis said.

However, Ohio Department of Natural Resources spokeswoman Stephanie Leis said fracking operations near the earthquake site “were halted within an hour of the seismic occurrence.”

“As is ODNR protocol in regards to seismic occurrences, operations were halted. Ohio has some of the most comprehensive seismic monitoring operations and requirements in the country, which helped detect this unfelt event, and ODNR seismologists quickly began investigating potential sources. The division continues to evaluate seismic data and completion operations in the area.

Leis said she believed only one fracking operation was close enough to the earthquake site to require a shutdown. However, Melanie Houston, director of Oil and Gas for the Ohio Environmental Council advocacy group, said she believes there are seven fracking operations within five miles of the earthquake site.

“This earthquake is a clear example of the risks involved in fracking,” she said. “Instead of charging ahead with leasing in the Wayne National Forest, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service should be considering what dangers we’re inviting into Ohio’s only national forest.”

In other business during the Monday commission meeting, The Monroe Arts Council received a $7,500 grant from the Ohio Arts Council to help restore and preserve artwork on eight barns across the county.

The Patchwork Jewels Quilt Barn Revitalization project aims to eventually revitalize 16 of the original 20 quilt barns on the Patchwork Jewels Quilt Trail. The barns were first painted in 2004 by acclaimed barn artist Scott Hagan of New Castle, and Hagan will do the repainting work.

According to arts council, “Thirteen years of extreme weather has taken its toll on the colorfully painted quilt squares which are worn, peeling and faded from their original brilliance.”

Three of the 20 barns on the trail have been revitalized already — two by private owners and one by the Monroe Bicentennial Committee. One has been destroyed by a storm, according to Monroe County Commissioner Mick Schumacher, who wrote the grant.

Schumacher said the arts council grant money must be used by June 30, so all eight barns should be completed by then. Schumacher said the project will be promoted as a “performing arts event” for those who follow Hagan’s work. Hagan also painted 88 county barns to celebrate Ohio’s Bicentennial in 2003.

Jason Hamman, economic developer for the county, told the board of commissioners that“waterline extension” through county port authority property has been approved by both the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the Ohio Department of Transportation as part of water and sewer line improvements in Clarington.

Staff Writer Casey Junkins contributed to this report.