Vienna seeks injection well aid

VIENNA — Citing concerns over “earthquakes and potential explosions,” township officials have asked a state lawmaker to help them in their efforts to have a deep brine injection well along state Route 193 restricted.

The trustees, in an Oct. 3 letter, advised U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, that they contacted the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Oil and Gas, asking for lightning suppressions to be installed on the tanks at the facility just south of the Youngstown Warren Regional Airport. The site is also near the Youngstown Air Reserve Station. The military installation shares a runway with the local airport.

“We were told that there is no requirement due to this well being located in a rural area. The requirement suppressions on wells are only required in urban areas,” the letter states.

The correspondence is signed by township trustees Phil Pegg, Heidi Brown and Richard Dascenzo Jr.

The letter states that the trustees plan to ask the Federal Aviation Administration to inspect the site, owned by Oklahoma City, Okla.-based KTCA Holdings LLC, and review their safety concerns.

It reads, “Your assistance is requested twofold. One, to get the State of Ohio to have the facility install the suppressions and two, your assistance in requesting the FAA to possibly restrict the site due to the location, which is only 800 feet from the runway and close to the landing lights for the runway.”

Sen. Brown, in an email to the Tribune Chronicle, stated, “My office is looking into the issue and will work with the Vienna Township trustees and the Federal Aviation Administration to gather more information and address any potential safety concerns.”

On Tuesday, Eric Heis, ODNR spokesman, said the has department investigated the concerns the trustees raised.

“While it is true that the injection well is not required to have lightning suppressors on their oil tanks, the company did take other precautions that will increase the safe operation of the facility,” he said.

For example, the company installed vapor suppression systems that remove oxygen to decrease the chance of combustion. Also, the tanks the company installed are “low-profile, further mitigating risk,” Heis added.

Additionally, he stated, local fire officials, hosted by the company, toured the facility and mapped out safety measures in place.

ODNR gave KTCA the OK last month to start using the site to dispose of oil field waste.

A preliminary order signed Sept. 7 by Richard Simmers, chief of ODNR’s Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management, authorized the company to begin accepting wastewater from drilling at the well formerly owned by Kleese Development Associates, or KDA, of Warren. The order became final last Friday.  The site is 6.7 miles from the American Waste Management Systems injection well in Weathersfield that ODNR ordered closed after it was linked to seismic activity, and 8.6 miles from the Northstar 1 injection well in Youngstown that was closed because of a 4.0-magnitude quake.

Pegg said he doesn’t think the township’s efforts will close the site, but could possibly “slow operations down and make the site safer.”  He said he has been working with state lawmakers, but “they will not intervene in a state matter.” However, he believes they will assist if there is a federal agency, such as the FAA, involved.

Heidi Brown said the whole process has been frustrating. She said truck traffic already has increased near the injection well.

“It’s only a matter of time before something bad happens,” she said. “We’ve been willing to try anything and everything. We knew we had to write the letter to at least try to get some help.”

vshank@tribtoday.com

COMMENTS