NILES - The first of the rules packages being written now to lessen the risk posed by gas and oil well drilling in Ohio will be available for public comment in the next few weeks, said Rick Simmers, oil and gas resources management division chief with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
The initial roll-out will be drill pad regulations that will include professional engineer design and certification requirements and a rule to make sure the pads will stand the test of time if built and then sit unused for an extended period.
''So if a pad or any facility sits before it's used, that operator is going to have to certify that it was maintained in a condition to it is appropriate to operate,'' Simmers said.
He spoke Thursday at Ciminero's Banquet Centre at a Regional Chamber lunch, which also had Simmers' boss, ODNR director James Zehringer talk about the department's duties, one of which is the regulation of the oil and natural industry.
Outside, a small group of members of Frack Free Mahoning Valley protested, trying to spread their message against drilling.
Other rules in the works now will oversee recycling the contaminated waste generated in hydraulic fracturing - a trend on the grow, and encouraged by the state - and temporary storage freshwater need to frack and wastewater, Simmers said.
The temporary impoundments would be approved in two phases, application and permission to build overseen by ODNR, which also would supervise the construction to make the approved plan is ''being properly followed and properly implemented,'' Simmers said.
Next step, the application to operate the facility that will include operational detail and processes. ''There will be a lot of criteria the company has to answer and implement before the facility is granted a permit to go into operation,'' Simmers said.
Wastewater impoundments would follow the same process, but have different, more stringent standards.
Zehringer said Ohio, because shale plays in other states were developed earlier, has the advantage of learning from the experiences of those other areas and develop rules that are ''tough and thorough, clear and complete,'' but let the state ''fairly and effectively monitor'' the growing industry.
He said ODNR oil and gas regulatory and permit staff since 2010 has tripled, including more than 50 ''on the ground'' inspectors.
There has been a significant jump in the number of shale wells, from 225 in 2012 to 661 the next year, Zehringer said. That trend can be traced to a shift in drilling company work, from logistics, determining ''sweet spots'' in 2011-12 to actual drilling a year later, he said.
''This was a big year for shale development in Ohio because most of the companies worked out the logistics of where they want to be and are ready to start drilling,'' Zehringer said.