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Goyal seeks more controls on injection waste wells

April 19, 2012

Linda Martz
Mansfield News Journal

Well owners would be required to submit a plan detailing how waste fluids would be tested for chemicals under Goyal's bill.

Under current law, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources conducts a chemical test only if there is an incident.

"Under my bill, if there should happen to be an incident, the public will already be aware of the chemicals that could potentially mix with ground and drinking water," Goyal said.

Local officials could have tests conducted independently, he said.

Mobley said he believes the bill -- particularly the portion allowing local government to veto permits -- is misguided.

"The regulatory framework for underground injection is well developed, highly technical and extremely successful. I can't think of any pollution control initiative of any kind that has a better track record than underground injection," he said. "To entrust that or put all those decisions up to second-guessing by local government, which has none of the capabilities to make those kinds of technical decisions is, I think, a really bad idea."

Engineers and geologists, not local government, should be monitoring the industry, he said.

Goyal said his office began receiving complaints a few months ago about the proposed injection wells, which would be built in Mansfield's north side industrial park.

"Most people were angry simply because they felt that they were kept entirely in the dark throughout the permitting process," he said.

The required notice for Preferred Fluids' wells "was a barely noticeable 1-inch ad," Goyal said.

Ohio Administrative Code requires one public notice in a single local newspaper. H.B. 474 would require notices to run once a week for four consecutive weeks in all local newspapers, including weeklies. Local government officials would have to be made aware that an application has been filed.

ODNR would be required to hold a public hearing in the township or municipality where the well is to be built within 60 days after the fourth public notice has been published.

Mobley said he disagrees with some of the bill's requirements, but he agrees "in spirit" with the portion requiring disclosure of past problems involving applicants. However, he said, that requirement could potentially be burdensome for companies with good track records.

"I can say we totally support Jay Goyal's legislation," Mansfield Law Director John Spon said. "He's making every effort to protect our community. I'm hopeful that the committee will give fair consideration to his proposal and not simply go through the motions and not do anything with it."

Mansfield resident Bill Baker, coordinator for Frack Free Ohio, said he was encouraged ideas from Goyal's bill may be adopted elsewhere.

"I was told that parts of this will become part of Gov. Kasich's energy bill," he said.

Baker said he believes the only portion of the bill meeting significant resistance is the part giving local government power to veto applications.

[Original Article]