BROOKFIELD - The proposed plan to drill and operate a saltwater injection well in Brookfield sparked a lively debate on Wednesday evening as the township board of trustees held an educational meeting regarding the project.
In December of last year, American Energy Inc., a small, Cortland-based company, filed an application with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources seeking permission to drill the deep well, which would be used to permanently dispose of brine and other oilfield waste generated in the natural gas and oil drilling industry.
The property in question is a leased five-acre plot of land near the intersection of McMullen Street and state Route 7.
Robert G. Barnett, president of the company, spoke to the nearly 50 citizens gathered in attendance for close to an hour, explaining the process and how it will impact the community.
"The reason we picked this area is because is it not a very populous area," Barnett said. "There are not a lot of houses around and there's really nothing up there. That was one of the main reasons we looked at this property."
Barnett's assessment of the property faced strong opposition from some in attendance, including many who voiced opposition to the proposed well's proximity to Brookfield High School, roughly half a mile away.
"This well is going to be in the high school's backyard," said one Brookfield resident who declined to be named. "I don't have a problem with bringing business to this community and I don't want to stop jobs (from being produced), but I have a problem with it being so close to our school. I want to know where the board of education stands on this issue."
Injection well drilling has not been without incident locally, as an injection well owned by D&L Energy located on a fault line was blamed for triggering a series of earthquakes in 2011.
Concerned over the possibility of a similar situation in Brookfield, resident Patti Baker questioned what would happen to her and other homeowners were property damage to occur.
"Who is going to be responsible for paying for the damages to people's property if there was a tremor?" Baker said. "We have not gotten enough answers yet about this."
Barnett made it clear to those in attendance that his company plans to move forward with its operation, pending ODNR approval. But Barnett also stressed that, if approved, the company would operate the well in strict adherence to state regulations.
One question raised by township Trustee Gary Lees was the issue of the well's local benefit. While Barnett's company, as well as the state of Ohio, would see a financial benefit from the well's operation, Lees questioned what gains the local community would see.
"I think the big question is what is in it here for Brookfield Township," Lees said. "If we have hazardous waste that is going to be dumped into the ground here, I want to know how much (financial benefit) we're going to get, because the state is going to get (its share)."