NORTH JACKSON - About 50 people interrupted construction of a horizontal fracturing well here on Sunday over concerns it is too close to a major source of drinking water.
Coordinated under the banner of FrackFree Mahoning County, the sign-carrying group formed a blockade to the well.
Samuel Rubin, a member of the anti-fracking group, said construction was blocked for more than five hours.
Photo by Channel 33 News
Protesters demonstrate at the site of a natural gas well in North Jackson on Sunday.
The well sits south of Mahoning Avenue near Bailey Road and is being drilled by CNX Gas Co. LLC, according to information released by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
"Today's action went off really, really well," Rubin told the Tribune Chronicle Sunday night.
There were no arrests made, but police did tell the group to keep its protest peaceful.
The protest was called because the well is located in the Meander Reservoir's watershed, which Rubin said is within an environmentally protected area.
"The biggest problem is this was happening between 75 to 100 feet from a falling stream and they are using toxic chemicals so close to a major water supply that services over 200,000 people in the area," Rubin said. "When there is an issue like that, we have a major, major problem."
The reservoir provides drinking water for about 300,000 people in the Mahoning Valley.
ODNR spokesman Matt Eiselstein said last week that measures were taken to ensure the well was safely drilled.
"We all live in a watershed, and ODNR strives to protect our water," Eiselstein said. "In the permitting process, we do give special attention to those areas."
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is the process in which chemicals, water and sand are blasted into the rock formation deep below the earth's surface to reach the pockets of natural gas there.
According to ODNR, two other horizontal wells in Mahoning County are either being drilled or have been drilled. They are the Chesapeake Exploration well in Milton Township, which was permitted in May 2011, and another CNX well in Ellsworth Township, which received its permit in November. Ten other horizontal wells in Mahoning County have been issued permits by the ODNR, but drilling has not yet commenced.