Industry experts speak on drilling, water

YOUNGSTOWN – An opportunity to be more educated on the oil and gas industry and its effects on local resources and the environment brought dozens to the Jewish Community Center Thursday afternoon.

As far as concerns, water is probably the biggest one local residents are concerned about, “and they should be concerned about it,”said lecturer Jeffrey C. Dick, chairman and professor at Youngstown State University’s Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences. Dick also is director for the Natural Gas and Water Resources Institute.

But Dick, a resident of Columbiana County with multiple natural gas and oil wells within miles of his home, acknowledged that with what he’s seen so far, the oil and gas drillers are doing a pretty good job with safety and environmental precautions.

Dick said most of the drilling companies are aware of residents’ concerns and are taking steps to minimize potential risks and problems.

”I live between Lisbon and Leetonia,” Dick said during the luncheon lecture. ”Within a five-mile radius of my home, there are 12 different well pads. I suspect in the spring they will start coming in and doing more pads.”

Dick said one of the biggest problems he sees coming in the future will be the continued disposal of millions of gallons of brine or wastewater generated from the gas wells. The brine is usually disposed of by injecting it back into the earth in Class II injection wells. But the volume of brine will soon outpace the amount that can be injected into Ohio wells.

”It’s a small problem now, but it’s going to become a much bigger problem,” Dick said, with scientists working to find other options for brine disposal.

”We are blessed here in Ohio because we have lots of water. But the down side is there is not much incentive to recycle the water.”