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Ohio investigates cause of weekend earthquake in drilling region


Posted Apr 4, 2017 at 4:50 PM Updated at 7:36 AM


Stories from Headlines Network

By Marion Renault The Columbus Dispatch

State officials are investigating whether a magnitude 3.0 earthquake in the Wayne National Forest was caused by nearby oil and gas operations.

It wouldn’t be the first time: Hundreds of temblors have been linked to drilling operations and injection wells in Ohio and other states.

The Ohio quake occurred about 8 a.m. Sunday near Graysville in Monroe County in the national forest’s Marietta Unit. Activity at nearby wells was halted within an hour after the quake, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, whose seismologists are investigating the quake’s potential sources.

According to the state, eight permitted Utica shale well sites are within 5 miles of the epicenter of Sunday’s earthquake, which is about 120 miles southeast of Columbus; the quake was not related to Monroe County’s sole, inactive injection well.

Fracking involves pumping a mixture of water, sand and chemicals deep underground to fracture rock formations and release trapped oil and gas. The wastewater that comes up with the oil and gas can be reused, but disposal eventually is necessary. Frequently, that wastewater is injected deep underground.

“Review of the seismic data placed the event ... in proximity to ongoing oil- and gas-well completion operations,” Department of Natural Resources spokesman Steve Irwin said in an email. “The division continues to evaluate seismic data and completion operations in the area.”

It’s too soon to connect regional hydraulic fracturing with Sunday’s quake, said Miami University seismologist Mike Brudzinski.

“I think it’s natural to think of this as a potential relationship. The next step is trying to do the science to make sure that’s true,” he said.

Brudzinski said Ohio typically experiences earthquakes of this magnitude a couple of times a year. Still, he noted that the state’s southeastern region is not one with a long history of seismic activity.

That region is slated for more fracking activity. Since December, federal officials have auctioned the oil and gas leasing rights for more than 1,800 acres of the Wayne National Forest’s Marietta Unit for eventual fracking.

“The reason this (earthquake) is generating more attention is the location,” Brudzinski said. “People are concerned about this as an indication of a risk involved with hydraulic fracturing.”

To that end, environmentalists are calling on federal officials to withdraw plans for fracking in Ohio’s only national forest.

“We know this has occurred in Ohio and across the country before,” said Jen Miller, director of Sierra Club Ohio. “I think it (raises) the question of, ‘Why are we doing more of this?’”

In 2015, the U.S. Geological Survey released results of its first widespread examination of possible links between earthquakes and the oil and gas industry. It reported that oil and gas drilling and wastewater-injection wells spurred hundreds of earthquakes in Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas as well as Ohio.

Since 2014, after earthquakes connected with oil and gas industry activity affected parts of eastern and northeastern Ohio, the state has required operators of any fracked well within 3 miles of a known fault or in areas prone to seismic activity to install seismic monitors. Operators of injection wells that take fracking wastewater and operate in areas where earthquakes have happened also are required to monitor for quakes.

A team of Miami University researchers published a study in 2015 that linked nearly 80 quakes in Mahoning County to nearby oil and gas operations. Another team of researchers published a report in 2014 arguing that fracking triggered hundreds of small earthquakes on a previously unmapped fault in Harrison County in 2013.



Fracking Schools new funding structure for Ohio?

Conservative think tank Heatland Institue suggests a new model for funding Ohio Schools. Will the Governor Kasich listen?

Jan 16th, 2013

Marcellus and Utica Shales and Ohio Schools: A Possible Model for Economic Growth and Opportunity

Lisa Burleson, Sean Cooke –
January 16, 2013

It’s a tale of two numbers: $2.9 billion and $9.6 billion.

The first number, $2.9 billion, represents the reduction in education funding in the state budget for fiscal 2012-2013.

The second number, $9.6 billion, represents the projected value of the annual oil and gas production in the State of Ohio by 2014 as a result of the drilling and related activities in the Marcellus and Utica Shales in Ohio.

For school leaders who see the state budget as “passing the buck” to local school districts to raise taxes to maintain funding for basic educational services, the economic development model for growth that the Marcellus and Utica Shale plays represent for at least one third of the eastern portion of Ohio public schools is unprecedented and it presents many Ohio public schools with the opportunity for a new economic model for long-term financial growth and stability.

The Economic Growth Model For Ohio:  Marcellus and Utica Shale Development

Already several national and regional oil and gas companies have begun to lease and acquire more than four million acres of land in a handful of counties along the eastern border of Ohio for shale drilling. Utica Shale deposits will likely prove to be unusually rich in natural gas, oil and natural gas liquids, according to industry experts. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources estimates the Utica Shale deposits in Eastern Ohio to hold a potential of 5.5 billion barrels of oil and 15.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.  In practice, these oil and gas resources can be used to produce fuels, heat homes and manufacture products ranging from plastic toys to cosmetics to medicines to tennis shoes.

Read the full story at the link below.



Devon, Chesapeake each pull plugs of two disappointing wells 

By Bob Downing
Beacon Journal staff writer

A great deal of attention is directed at successful Utica shale wells in eastern Ohio, but there’s another side to the story.

A total of nine wells, including three in the Akron-Canton area, have been plugged — a sign of failure — by drilling companies over the past two years.

Locally, the plugged wells include a Devon Energy Corp. site in Medina County’s Harrisville Township and two Chesapeake Energy wells: one in Portage County’s Suffield Township and one in Stark County’s Paris Township.

Under state rules, plugged wells are abandoned permanently and are sealed with concrete. Their status shows up on a weekly report on drilling permits from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Devon Energy also plugged a well in Ashland County.

The company, without offering specifics, reported this summer that preliminary results from the Medina and Ashland wells were disappointing. Officials said they would shift attention to the natural gas liquids-rich area in eastern Ohio counties.

Read the entire article here.


Hazardous Air Pollutants Detected Near Fracking Sites

Bloomburg News -- For years, the controversy over natural gas drilling has focused on the water and air quality problems linked to hydraulic fracturing, the process where chemicals are blasted deep underground to release tightly bound natural gas deposits.

But a new study reports that a set of chemicals called non-methane hydrocarbons, or NMHCs, is found in the air near drilling sites even when fracking isn't in progress.

According to a peer-reviewed study in the journal Human and Ecological Risk Assessment, more than 50 NMHCs were found near gas wells in rural Colorado, including 35 that affect the brain and nervous system. Some were detected at levels high enough to potentially harm children who are exposed to them before birth.


The authors say the source of the chemicals is likely a mix of the raw gas that is vented from the wells and emissions from industrial equipment used during the gas production process.

The paper cites two other recent studies on NMHCs near gas drilling sites in Colorado. But the new study was conducted over a longer period of time and tested for more chemicals than those studies did.

"To our knowledge, no study of this kind has been published to date," the authors wrote.

The researchers took weekly air samples at a site that's within one mile of 130 gas wells in Garfield County, Colo., with little other industry aside from natural gas production. They detected more than 50 chemicals between July 2010 and October 2011, including 44 with reported health effects. The highest concentrations were measured after new wells were drilled, but the concentrations did not increase after the wells were fracked.

Read the entire story here.


Appalachia Resist!

This action follows the action camp hosted by Appalachia Resist! which served as a training for an ever widening group of community members, including farmers, landowners, and families who want to join the resistance to injection wells and the fracking industry in Southeast Ohio. 

With this action, Appalachia Resist! sends the message to the oil and gas industry that our region will not be an easy target for toxic dumping.  We send the message to the ODNR that they cannot simply dismiss residents’ concerns. 

Injection wells bring absolutely no benefit to SE Ohio.  They bring tremendous risk to our health, safety, and livelihoods. The oil and gas industry and its captured agency, the ODNR, can expect more direct action and increased resistance from Appalachian Ohioans.  We will do what it takes to keep our community safe.





Athens Countians Respond to Injection Well Permit Application with Demand for Public Hearing

For Immediate Release

Athens (OH) County Fracking Action Network,

Sept. 12, 2012

contact: Roxanne Groff, 740-707-3610,,

A public notice for an Athens County injection well permit application for the Atha well on Rte. 144 near Frost, OH, has been posted.  Citizens have until Sept. 28 to send in comments and concerns about the application to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (, include reference: Permit # 3761 and application # aAMY0000706). “We call on everyone who cares about southeast Ohio drinking water and public safety to tell ODNR we must have a public hearing on this permit application,” stated Former County Commissioner Roxanne Groff, an organizer of the effort and last week’s public meeting, attended by 50. “We have until Sept. 28 to tell ODNR we don’t want this dangerous waste dumped on our land or 50,000 gallons a day of toxic liquids being hauled on Ste. Rte 44 along the Hocking River, 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” she stated.  Groff has been growing increasingly alarmed as she studies the rules and practices involved.


 If it is permitted, the Atha Class II Injection Well will be licensed to receive “brine,” “produced water,” and “fracking fluids” – all the liquid waste from oil and gas wells. “This waste, especially from fracking operations, is heavily laced with toxins, both intentionally from fracking chemicals and unintentionally from the deep earth,” Groff stated. “Only last week, the Columbus Dispatch reported that this waste coming into Ohio from Pennsylvania is highly radioactive.” According to the Dispatch, radium in one sample of Marcellus liquid shale waste (“brine”) that Pennsylvania officials collected in 2009 was 3,609 times more radioactive than a federal safety limit for drinking water. It was 300 times higher than a Nuclear Regulatory Commission limit for industrial discharges to water. (Columbus Dispatch, 9/3/12, linked at


“The 1200 barrels--over 50,000 gallons--a day will be hauled on twisty narrow roads with school buses and young drivers going to nearby schools. It is reckless and irresponsible to allow this dangerous activity on our rural roads,” Groff stated. She explained that tanker trucks carry 75-100 barrels and semis up to 150-200 barrels, meaning as many as 16 tankers or eight semis daily. The trucks are permitted to dispose of waste 24 hours a day.


The waste is intended to reach the porous rock formation at the end of the pipe, about 3000 to 4000 feet down. “I’ve read the Atha permit application. This well does not even have an annulus,” stated Teresa Mills, Buckeye Forest Council fracking coordinator, who has been studying Ohio injection wells for decades.  She explained, “The annulus is the envelope of sealed fluid between the pipe and the cement casing. It’s what allows inspectors to see whether the well pipe and casings have been breached. If they check the pressure of the annulus and it’s low—or even non-existent as the Ginsburg well in Lee Township has often been—that means there’s a leak.” She concluded, “The fluid could be going anywhere.” The Atha well is a converted production well. All new injection wells must have an annulus, Mills explained.


Mills has recently been poring over records of all 177 Ohio injection wells as well as permit applications and found extensive serious violations that have not been corrected. She spoke in Athens on Friday at Madeline ffitch’s press conference about the Ginsburg well. “For 26 years, this well has been in violation,” she stated, adding, “For ten years, the Ginsburg well went uninspected.” An examination of ODNR records shows repeated references to “no pressure detected in annulus.” The well has continued to accept waste except briefly when the county cut a trench across the driveway to prevent access in 2003.


Groff commented on the relevance of this information: “How can we expect ODNR to have effective oversight of additional wells when they’re not even following their own regulations for the wells already permitted?”


 “This new permit application is the just the tip of the iceberg,” added local business owner Christine Hughes. “As more wells are drilled in Ohio, more waste will be headed here. West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York don’t allow their fracking waste to be disposed of in their states,” she stated. She concluded, “We know we can expect much more of this toxic waste in Ohio, with the intensity of shale drilling heating up and our own governor welcoming other states to use us as a toilet.  I think citizens should demand Ohio shut the lid and hold the oil and gas industry to common sense standards of safety and stewardship.”  53% of the 12.2 million barrels of “brine” injected into Ohio disposal wells last year came from out of state.


A landowner who lives near the Atha site and wished to remain anonymous, added, "It's 20 truckloads of waste every day for just one injection well, bringing in huge amounts of unknown industrial waste from other states.  As a neighboring landowner, I am very alarmed that it is not tested.  If this stuff is safe, why won't they prove it through proper testing and reporting of every load, so the public can know what's going down there, and decide whether they want to live next to this stuff?” He concluded, “If someone's profiting from dumping this waste in Ohio, they can afford to test it and we deserve to know the results."


Nate Ebert, spokesperson for Appalachia Resist and an attendee at last Wednesday’s meeting, stated, “It’s urgent and imperative that citizens speak up now to have a voice in ODNR’s evaluation of this dangerous industrial activity planned for our county. People must demand that ODNR hold a public hearing in Athens before evaluating this terrible proposal.” Ebert added that letter writers should note that a handout at last week’s public meeting had incorrect e-mail information for ODNR.  [to the editor: please include this important correction! thank you]


Citizens can write to ODNR Division of Oil and Gas ( rather than incorrect e-mail info disseminated previously) by Sept. 28. Letters should include a reference to the DT Atha Well Permit # 3761 and application # aAMY0000706.  Supporting materials, including the Atha application, ODNR Ginsburg records, letter writing information and other pertinent documents, are available at Athens County Fracking Action Network’s injection well page at



Hats off to Cincinnati

August 1, 2012




Contacts: Alison Auciello, Food & Water Watch, (513) 394-6257, / Council Member Laure Quinlivan, City of Cincinati, (513) 352-5303,      

Cincinnati Becomes First Ohio City to Ban Injection Wells

CINCINNATI, Ohio—Following today’s unanimous vote by the Cincinnati City Council to ban injection wells associated with the disposal of waste from hydraulic fracturing, the citizen’s advocacy coalition Southwest Ohio No Frack Forum called on the state legislature to protect Ohio residents and their natural resources by banning all fracking-related activity throughout the state.

Fracking is an unconventional natural gas drilling method that involves pumping millions of gallons of water, silica sand and as many as 750 chemicals into the earth to release natural gas from hard rock formations. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) expects to permit over 2,250 fracking wells by 2015, which would create billions of gallons of fracking waste. Though local geologists claim that Cincinnati is not a favorable location for fracking, the shallow layer of sandstone makes it a desirable site for waste injection.

Fifty percent of the fracking wastewater being injected in Ohio well sites is coming from out of state, including Pennsylvania and as far away as Texas.

Alison Auciello, coalition member and an Ohio-based organizer for Food & Water Watch said, “We are happy that Council has acted quickly to protect Cincinnati residents from the associated risks of underground waste disposal. We look forward to their continued leadership on the issue of fracking.”

Injection of fracking waste into a disposal well in Youngstown was determined to be the cause of at least 11 recent earthquakes, according to the ODNR. In their testimony at Tuesday’s committee meeting on the ordinance, citizens raised concerns about the potential for landslides resulting from increased earthquakes.

 “The sludge and flammable wastes from fracking in eastern Ohio pose a health risk if they are transported here,” said No Frack Forum member Jim O’Reilly. “We applaud Cincinnati for taking the lead on saving us from the deluge of eastern Ohio's toxic chemical wastes.” A 2004 state law removed local zoning authority from municipalities specifically regarding the permitting of oil and gas activities. However, City Council has the ability to prohibit all types of injection wells as a zoning use.

“I’m proud to be a leader in the first city council in Ohio to ban injection wells, “ says Council Member Laure Quinlivan. “We’re acting to make Cincinnati cleaner, greener and smarter.”

For more information on the affects of fracking on communities and safe drinking water, including a list of communities that have taken action against fracking-related activities, see the fracking fact sheets and resources at:

For fact sheets on Ohio fracking legislation, check:

Photo: The Southwest Ohio No Frack Forum, shown marching in a 4th of July parade in Cincinnati, have been actively engaging Cincinnati City Council about fracking since January.  Credit: Ronald Gillespie


The Southwest Ohio No Frack Forum is a coalition of multiple non-profit organizations and local citizens working in tandem to protect vital water sources and infrastructure from dangerous fracking activities. Through advocacy and political action, the coalition seeks to maintain the health, safety, and welfare of citizens throughout Southwest Ohio. You can find more information about the group at the Southwest Ohio No Frack Forum facebook page.