Explaining Injection Wells
This is in response to the July 6 letter in The Intelligencer regarding injection wells in Belmont County. I believe misinformation was intentionally portrayed, and it is obvious that education on this topic is needed.
First off, fluids being injected into Class II injection wells cannot, and do not, accept hazardous waste by EPA rule. Our drivers do not need to wear masks, nor does anyone in the general public. As with all industries, our oilfield workers are required to wear protective equipment such as hard hats, safety gloves and steel toe shoes as required by OSHA.
Now, for some additional educational facts. Millions of years ago this region was completely covered by ocean (brine). Natural gas, oil and coal were formed from those marine plants and animals. Today, this ocean water is produced alongside our natural gas and oil, and is returned to the Earth’s subsurface. This saltwater injection technology has been utilized in the U.S. since the 1930s.
Currently, there are more than 180,000 Class II injection wells in the U.S. that assist in the development of natural gas and oil. In Ohio, 98% of this water is disposed in over 200 Class II injection wells. The other 2% is used for dust and ice control.
As with the development of any energy source, enhanced rules and regulations have been created over decades to make sure that producers follow best practices. This includes the passage of the Safe Drinking Water Act by the U.S. Congress in 1974. And, in 1985, the Ohio Legislature passed a landmark piece of legislation that required all brine generated by oil and gas operations to be disposed down Class II injection wells. This and other regulations enforced by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources gives Ohio some of the strictest Class II injection well laws in the country, and even exceeds the requirements mandated by the U.S. EPA.
The injection zones are 4,000-10,000 feet below the groundwater and multiple layers of impermeable rock. This keeps the fluids locked into specific porous rocks. Further regulations require these wells to have at least three layers of protective steel pipe casing, cemented into place, to protect the aquifers that all of our families utilize every day.
Class II injection wells are a vital component of shale production. It is important for the public and elected officials to know all the facts about these wells, the regulations, the rules they must follow, and their role in the energy supply chain. In fact, the proposed PTT cracker plant will utilize products such as ethane that is derived from local natural gas and oil.
Belmont County citizens and leaders should continue to be Ohio Energy Proud!
Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program