Future of Weathersfield well uncertain

ODNR?must develop policy to cover seismic events

WEATHERSFIELD — Last week’s decision from the state’s 10th District Court of Appeals in Columbus has left the future of American Water Management Services’ wastewater injection well in Weathersfield unclear.

The court upheld the Ohio Oil and Gas Commission’s decision to shut down the well until the Ohio Department of Natural Resources develops a statewide policy to address drilling-based seismic events.

The decision stems from a September 2014 order from the chief of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Oil and Gas Division, which regulates class II injection wells, to shutter the well after two nearby seismic events.

The first was a 1.7 magnitude event on July 28, 2014 in Weathersfield near the well site, and the second event, a 2.1 magnitude event, occurred on Aug. 31, 2014, also near the well site. The chief of Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Oil and Gas Division concluded at the time that the events “may” have been connected to the injection well and ordered operation of the well to cease.

After American appealed to the state, Ohio’s Oil and Gas Commission affirmed the order in August 2015, stating that the commission did not intend to allow operation of the well until a statewide policy on injection-caused seismicity could be formulated.

American Water Management Services then filed an appeal with the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, which held that the Oil and Gas Division had stalled in its refusal to conduct a site visit to well number 2 to explore the possibility of reopening it.

The court later ruled in December 2016 that the decision of the chief of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Oil and Gas was lawful but unreasonable.

The Franklin County Court of Common Pleas then held in February 2017 that the well could be reopened under a number of restrictions, including operation at reduced pressures and volumes, constant monitoring, and adjustments related to observed levels of earthquakes. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Oil and Gas then appealed to the 10th District Court of Appeals, which issued last week’s decision.

Both American Water Management Services and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Oil and Gas Division declined to comment.

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