Injection Well May Be Coming to Richland Township

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Residents near the intersection of U.S. 40 and Ohio 331 have learned that a pair of saltwater injection wells to hold fracking waste may be coming to the site.

Property owners within 500 feet of the proposed site received notification in early April from Gerard Russomagno, CEO of the Omni Energy Group LLC out of New Jersey, informing them that the application has been filed with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

“Our permit’s filed with them, with traffic patterns. Actually our traffic will be much less than (what people believe),” Russomagno said last week, adding that there will not be thousands of trucks on the route daily. “I can’t take more than I can put underground. Our maximum perceived capacity now, until we drill and find out, is coming in at somewhere between six and eight trucks per hour.”

He added that the area is zoned as commercial/industrial.

“This is not a temporary facility,” he said. “We’re going to be here for quite some time. It is not in our best interest not to be the best neighbor and best part of the community we can be. I understand there’s some homeowners, and they own homes in an industrial/commercial zone. At some point whether it’s me or something else, there’s going to be some risk of some commercial industrial operation that has the right to operate on that property.”

He said developing the property should be completed quickly should the permit be approved.

“That part of the process we’re expecting to only take about 30 days in total,” he said, adding that the total property is a little less than seven acres and would hold two injector wells.

“We will be accessing the property primarily from Pickering Road. The trucks will be exiting onto Route 30 where they can make only a right turn.”

Adam Schroeder, public information officer for ODNR, said last week that the permitting process is under review. He could not speculate on a timeline.

“Unfortunately, there is no ‘normal’ for this type of thing. We diligently review every application. Some are able to go through very quickly,” he said, adding that Ohio has a primacy agreement with the US EPA dating from 1984, granting primacy of regulatory oversight over underground injections.

“Ohio continuously meets or exceeds federal regulations for underground injection control,” he said, adding that should the application go through, Omni Resources runs a public notice for five consecutive days, then a public comment period after that where ODNR accepts written comments for or against the proposed wells.

The Times Leader spoke to several people door-to-door last week. Thoughts on the possible well were mainly negative.

Jeff and Judy Burger have resided at 67961 Pickering Road for 25 years and Ann Rattine has lived at 67978 Pickering Road for 45 years. They heard the news in early April and have since written to the ODNR, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and others in opposition.

In her letters, Judy Burger expresses concerns about noise and increased truck traffic, as well as fears of ground and air pollution. She also noted a series of quakes in the Youngstown that may have been linked to injector well activity.

According to information from ODNR, evidence gathered by ODNR regulators and geologists suggests that fluid from a deeply drilled injection well intersected an unmapped fault in a near-failure state of stress.

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