Contact Us


Sign Up for Updates!

Goyal seeks to beef up regulations for fracking waste disposal wells

March 9, 2012

Linda Martz
Mansfield News Journal

MANSFIELD -- State Rep. Jay P. Goyal introduced legislation Thursday to tighten regulation of injection wells in advance of the Marcellus shale drilling boom.

Injection wells are one option for disposal of waste fluids produced from hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking.

Goyal's district includes Mansfield, where Preferred Fluids Management has obtained permits to build two 5,000-foot-deep injection wells.

Preferred Fluids owner Steve Mobley has said his business plan includes shipping fracking waste in by rail from Pennsylvania.

Mansfield's mayor and law director have expressed concern about whether Ohio's laws and regulations would protect underground water supplies from contamination.

"Given that the production of shale oil and gas will soon be booming in Ohio and has the potential to bring many new jobs to our state, it is essential that we require companies to maintain practices that keep the public and our environment safe," Goyal said.

"Current regulations on the shale gas and oil industry are not strong enough and have branded Ohio as one of the weakest states in the nation on this issue," he said.

In fracking, water and chemicals are injected into the ground to break up rock and free oil and gas. A significant portion of fluids containing water, brine, sand and chemicals comes back to the surface along with the oil or gas.

Goyal said his legislation is aimed to ensure that any waste water produced from fracking will be disposed of safely.

Key provisions include:

>> Giving local communities more control, including an ability to veto a permit for construction of an injection well if they passed an ordinance or resolution in opposition.

>> Requiring increased notice to the public that a company is applying to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for a permit. Opponents of the Mansfield injection wells told state officials they considered the notice printed once in legal ads to be inadequate.

"There would be multiple notices within the newspaper. The notices would be in a larger size," Goyal said.

>> Requiring that a criminal background check be conducted on owners of proposed injection wells. "It would be similar to what's required for owners of landfill or solid waste disposal facilities," Goyal said. "As far as I know, that is not required now. (Ohio's) laws are extremely loose," he said.

>> Requirements that well operators conduct tests of the waste water to help make communities better aware of the chemicals that could potentially seep into ground and drinking water.

>> To prevent earthquakes like the ones near an injection well in Youngstown, Goyal's bill requires seismological testing to ensure wells will not be built over a fault.

>> Pushing companies to recycle fracking waste to reduce the amount for disposal.

Goyal said the bill introduced Thursday was modeled after procedures adopted in Colorado.

"A number of my constituents contacted my office and requested that I take action on this issue," he said. "This legislation is a direct response to their request. Many who called my office or met with me in person were angered by the fact that they feel they have no control over whether or not a well could be built in their own backyard. They feel a real sense of danger about the possibility of their drinking water being contaminated by toxic chemicals, and I agree with them."

"We've made sure our increased regulations are not overly burdensome to the industry, and yet go a long way to making the industry safer," he said.