The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has granted companies a one-month extension to submit information about hazardous chemicals used and stored at oil and gas drilling locations to local emergency personnel.
On Sept. 11, the OEPA issued a letter saying oil and gas well owners and operators had to file documentation outlining what hazardous materials were on site above certain thresholds with the agency's State Emergency Response Commission, county local emergency planning commissions and fire departments who cover the area. Ohio law had previously allowed this information to be filed along with state information for oil and gas companies, but the U.S. EPA recently ruled the requirements of the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act had to be met separately.
The reports are standard requirements for other industries handling hazardous materials, so first responders can know what they might be dealing with should an emergency arise at a site. The filing deadline for an annual report was March 1, 2013, but because oil and gas wells were notified after that date, they were given until Nov. 15.
Chris Abbruzzese, deputy director for communications with the Ohio EPA, said the agency has been working with the Ohio Oil and Gas Association to present seminars on meeting the requirements. However, it has become apparent that some entities need additional time.
"The SERC recognizes that facilities are diligently working to compile the information needed to comply with EPCRA and is providing an extension, asking companies to submit their reports no later than Dec. 15, 2013," he said.
Colorado-based PDC Energy Inc., which has drilled two wells in Washington County and has three more permitted, fully intends to comply with the rules, said Michael Edwards, senior director of investor relations for the company.
"In our normal course of business, our operations in Colorado and West Virginia, I think there are very similar regulations," he said.
In Trumbull County, eight horizontal wells have been drilled into the Utica Shale, including at least one producing in Johnston Township. Another six are permitted, according to information provided by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
In Mahoning County, eight wells have been drilled into the Utica Shale and 21 more are permitted.
In Portage County, nine Utica Shale wells have been drilled or are producing, and another six are permitted.
Citizens can request copies of the reports through their local emergency planning commission. There are protections granted for chemicals considered trade secrets; in those cases, identifying information for the chemical is replaced with general class or category information.
However, Abbruzzese noted that even information that can be legally withheld must be disclosed to health care professionals "who need the information for prevention and treatment activities."
Tribune Chronicle Business Editor Brenda J. Linert contributed to this story.