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Weathersfield injection well OK to restart

Commission upholds order conditions for Weathersfield rig

The five-member Ohio Oil and Gas Commission has affirmed a decision by the state’s Division of Oil and Gas Resources that defines how Howland-based company AWMS Water Solutions can run its Weathersfield Township oil and gas wastewater injection well.

Small earthquakes caused it to close in 2014.

The commission issued its order Thursday following a quasi-judicial session this week, to discuss the evidence it received during a hearing Feb. 8 and 9 in Columbus. It stated the Division of Oil and Gas Resources restart order conditions are lawful and reasonable.

The issue the body was asked to decide was whether to uphold or reject the appeal AWMS filed over the orders of Eric Vendel, chief of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Oil and Gas Resources, defining the way the injection well must operate.

AWMS Water Solutions LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Avalon Holdings Corp. of One American Way in Howland.

AWMS opened two injection wells on state Route 169 just north of Niles in 2014, but the ODNR shut down the wells in September 2014 after AWMS 2 caused multiple earthquakes, including a magnitude 1.7 earthquake July 28, 2014, about two months after the well started operation, and a magnitude 2.1 quake Aug. 31, 2014, according to the ODNR.

Following years of legal action, the Ohio Supreme Court reversed a lower court decision in 2020, and AWMS No. 2 was allowed to reopen.

AWMS, however, did not agree with the parameters under which the ODNR said the well would be allowed to stay open.

AWMS’s appeal focused on the requirement that the well close again if an earthquake of magnitude 2.1 or larger occurs, which AWMS found to be too restrictive.

In a filing connected to the appeal, the ODNR stated that it chose 2.1 magnitude because that is the level where an earthquake “may be felt by the community and raise anxiety over safety.”

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