Injection Well Safeguards Vital

Truck traffic seems to be the primary concern on the minds of some people living near a site where two injection wells to accept fracking waste from oil and gas drilling are to be located. But state officials considering permits for the project should be focused on what may go on underground. Out of sight, out of mind won’t work on this one.

A New Jersey firm, Omni Energy Group LLC, is planning the injection wells on a site of nearly seven acres near the intersection of U.S. 40 and Ohio 331 in Belmont County. Plans are for two saltwater injection wells.

Though some residents of the area worry about increased heavy truck traffic, Omni Energy CEO Gerard Russomagno says that should not be a problem. No more than six to eight trucks per hour are expected to carry fracking waste to the wells, he explained.

Ohio Department of Natural Resources officials say permits for the project are under review. How long that may require is uncertain. “There is no ‘normal’ for this type of thing,” ODNR Public Information Officer Adam Schroeder added.

Some means of disposing of the enormous quantity of wastewater generated by modern oil and gas drilling is essential. Injection wells — pumping the fluid into underground chambers — are a popular choice.

But ODNR officials must look carefully at potential environmental impact. One concern is ensuring fluid from the injection well does not migrate into drinking water supplies.

Another worry is earthquakes. ODNR officials concluded a series of quakes in the Youngstown area more than seven years ago was caused by injection wells. The phenomenon is not yet understood well, according to the U.S. Geologic Survey.

But the need for some safeguards against injection well quakes is known. ODNR officials should insist such measures be followed to the letter at the Belmont County site.

Disposal of fracking waste is an integral part of the modern gas and oil drilling industry that has benefited many in East Ohio. ODNR officials should ensure the proposal Belmont County injection wells follow best practices to safeguard residents of the area.

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