Ohio

October 30, 2013

ODNR confirms hydraulic fracturing in Ohio has not contaminated groundwater; plans to propose rules authorizing impoundments

Source: http://www.lexology.com, October 22, 2013
By: Anne C. Foster, Baker & Hostetler LLP

A recent article published in the Akron Beacon Journal indicates (click here) that of the 183 water-well complaints received by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) between 2010 and mid-October 2013, “only six water supplies were impacted by drilling over the nearly four-year period.” By phone, Mark Bruce, a spokesman from the Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management of ODNR, mentioned that ODNR thoroughly investigates each complaint it receives, and in some cases, investigations may still be ongoing. Nonetheless, he also confirmed that neither hydraulic fracturing nor horizontal drilling were to blame for the issues ODNR found at the six-impacted sites. Rather, the fact that these sites were generally decades old and abandoned led to the adverse findings.

As the article specifies, ODNR’s findings were not surprising, as “older wells and abandoned wells are more likely to create water-well problems with neighbors than horizontal wells.” With that said, however, ODNR continues to examine best practices from industry players, other states, and concerned citizens to minimize risks to human health and the environment. By way of example, ODNR is currently drafting rules which will outline a permitting process for flowback water impoundments applicable to companies choosing to use such pools in connection with horizontal drilling. Bruce also mentioned that companies may use the impoundments for the purpose of storing freshwater to be used in the fracturing process or storing (and perhaps reusing) the flowback fluids in future fracturing projects.

For further information regarding the flowback water rules and rulemaking, please refer to the following sources:

http://ohiocitizen.org/ohio-will-soon-authorize-fracking-wastewater-pools/

http://www.shalemarkets.com/odnr-writing-new-rules-for-lagoons-on-fracking/

http://oilandgas.ohiodnr.gov/

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October 9, 2013

Ohio will soon authorize fracking wastewater pools

Source: Vindicator (Youngstown, OH), October 7, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

Ohio regulators will soon approve and permit large, exposed centralized impoundments that hold fracking flowback water.

These are used widely by oil and gas companies in other states to recycle the waste and serve multiple wells near one another .

The impoundments, or pits, which sometimes exceed the size of a football field and can hold millions of gallons of water, are now banned in Ohio.

But they’ve proved a useful asset to companies operating in other states such as Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The impoundments serve as water-transfer stations for multiple wells nearby, greatly reducing the amount of truck traffic and the water necessary to drill and frack those wells.

Existing Ohio regulations permit use of lined impoundments that hold freshwater for drilling. Flowback, or fracking wastewater, however, must be stored above ground in covered steel tanks before disposal or reuse.

But effective Jan. 1, the centralized impoundment pools will be authorized by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources as part of a regulatory change state legislators made in the biennial budget bill signed in June.

Changes to the law likely came after input from the industry. Operators consider centralized impoundments a key to further developing the Utica Shale play.…

September 25, 2013

Sites sought for region's fracking residue

Source: The Columbus Dispatch, September 23, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

Battelle scientists are leading a search for sites where companies can pump fracking waste underground in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

The two-year project, funded by a $1.8 million U.S. Department of Energy grant, is a response to the growing amount of polluted wastewater that bubbles out of fracked shale wells. Millions of barrels of the waste are pumped into disposal wells, many of which are in Ohio.

With more drilling and fracking expected, oil and gas companies will need to find the best locations to safely inject more waste, said Neeraj Gupta, senior research leader for Battelle’s subsurface-resources group.

“That’s one of our objectives. Where is the injection capacity?” Gupta said.

Right now, it’s in Ohio, where more than 14.2 million barrels of fracking fluids and related waste from oil and gas wells were pumped into 190 disposal wells last year. That was a 12 percent increase over 2011.

Much of the waste — 8.16 million barrels last year — came from Pennsylvania, which has seven active disposal wells. West Virginia has 63 disposal wells.

The fracking process pumps millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals underground to shatter shale and free its trapped oil and gas. Some of the fluid bubbles back up, along with ancient saltwater that contains toxic metals and radium.

Environmental advocates say they worry that old, poorly maintained disposal wells will leak pollutants to groundwater.…

September 11, 2013

Drillers in Ohio increasingly shifting to southern counties

Source: Akron Beacon Journal (OH), September 4, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

Carroll County is the reigning Utica shale capital of Ohio.

With 319 wells permitted, Carroll represents nearly 38 percent of the 858 wells the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has approved since late 2010.

Chesapeake Energy, the No. 1 driller in Ohio, staked out early and extensive claims in Carroll and surrounding counties: Columbiana, Portage and Stark. Today the Oklahoma-based energy giant, the No. 2 producer of natural gas in the United States, has a total of 503 permits in eastern Ohio — nearly 59 percent of the statewide total.

Interest from other drillers is shifting, however, and extending to the south in a big way — into Harrison, Belmont, Monroe, Guernsey and Noble counties. Those five counties have become the drilling hot spot in eastern Ohio.

Of Ohio’s 2013 Utica shale permits, more than 50 percent have been issued to energy companies interested in those counties, and that region is not Chesapeake’s stronghold, according to a Beacon Journal review of state data.

Harrison County leads the way with 124 permits since 2010, followed by Noble County with 62, according to information from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Oil & Gas Resources Management.

Ohio has issued 45 permits in Belmont County, 33 in Monroe County and 50 in Guernsey County.

Washington County — even farther south — has an additional seven permits, all this year.…

August 14, 2013

Pipeline driller still polluting

Source: The Columbus Dispatch, August 12, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

A company that faces state sanctions and fines for pipeline-construction spills in eastern Ohio continues to foul streams and wetlands.

Scott Nally, director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, told Denver-based MarkWest Energy in a March 8 letter that the size and repeated nature of four spills dating to September were “unacceptable.”

As the EPA and the company negotiate penalties, agency reports show that MarkWest and its contractors have had 13 additional spills in Belmont, Harrison, Guernsey, Monroe and Noble counties, including a 1,200-gallon slurry spill that polluted a Monroe County wetland in July.

MarkWest attorney Chris Jones said the most-recent spills are smaller and less severe than those reported in 2012.

Much of MarkWest’s problem stems from drilling in areas that were once strip-mined for coal, Jones said. Soils and rocks there often are too loosely packed to contain the slurry.

“If there is any indication of a void in the ground, we stop drilling and address it,” said Jones, a former Ohio EPA director.

EPA spokesman Chris Abbruzzese said the agency continues to investigate the spills.

Teresa Mills, fracking coordinator for the Buckeye Forest Council, an environmental advocacy group, said the state should be tougher on the company.

“They should just totally make (MarkWest) stop until they figure out how to do it properly,” Mills said.…

August 7, 2013

Gas leaks from shale wells rare

Source: The Columbus Dispatch, August 5, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

Minutes after Debby Kline flicked a lighter near a bathroom sink in her Portage County house in northeastern Ohio, she called the fire department.

A sink-to-ceiling flare erupted when she tried to light a candle on Dec. 21, she told a TV news show. State oil and gas regulators are still investigating what caused natural gas to bubble out of the faucet.

Kline’s Nelson Township house is within a half-mile of two Utica shale wells that state records show were drilled and fracked in October and November.

Videos of burning water in Ohio and Pennsylvania households have helped bring attention to shale drilling and fracking, but such incidents are rare. Most complaints associated with oil and gas drilling are about drinking-water wells that run dry or produce water that’s discolored, smelly or clogged with sediment.

But in some cases, natural gas from poorly cased and cemented wells can seep into drinking-water wells, making faucets spit fizzy water that some homeowners can ignite.

“We encourage people not to do that, because there is an explosive risk,” said Kevin Sunday, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

Ohio Department of Natural Resources officials said they could not discuss Kline’s case while it is being investigated. Kline also declined to comment.

Oil- and gas-industry advocates say shallow pockets of natural gas can leak into groundwater. They say drilling gets blamed for something that has been going on, unnoticed, for years.…

August 7, 2013

OH Retirement Community Hit With Legionnaires

Read here about a retirement community in Ohio that has been hit with an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease.

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July 16, 2013

South Carolina court rejects theory of seamless coverage

Source: http://www.lexology.com, July 12, 2013
Brian Margolies, Traub Lieberman Straus & Shrewsberry LLP

In its recent decision in GS2 Engineering & Environmental Consultants, Inc. v. Zurich American Ins. Co., 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95137 (D.S.C. July 9, 2013), the United State District Court for South Carolina had occasion to consider the limitations of coverage inherent in a claims made and reported policy.

Steadfast Insurance Company insured GS2 under a series of claims made and reported contractors’ pollution liability policies. At issue were the policies in effect for the periods August 7, 2009 to August 7, 2010 and August 7, 2010 to August 7, 2011. The policies were similar in all material respects. The policies’ insuring agreements stated plainly that coverage was available only for claims first made during the policy period and reported to the insurer during the policy period or an extended reporting period, if applicable. The policies provided for an automatic thirty day extended reporting period, and the option to provide a lengthier extended reporting period, upon termination of the policy, defined as “all theories of liability (direct or vicarious) asserted against any insured.” In August 2010, while the 09-10 policy was in effect, GS2 was served with a complaint. It failed to report the complaint to Steadfast prior to the August 7, 2010 expiration of its policy. It was not until September 23, 2010 – nearly six weeks into the 10-11 policy period – that the underlying claimant gave notice of the matter to Steadfast. GS2 only later gave formal notice of the suit to Steadfast in November 2010.…

July 2, 2013

OH Fracking Waste Disposal Increasing

Read here about the increase of fracking waste in Ohio resulting from the shale gas and oil drilling process.…

May 20, 2013

Energy future may be swamped in fracking wastewater, scientists warn

Source: http://science.nbcnews.com, May 16, 2013
By: John Roach

The current boom in U.S. natural gas production from glassy shale rock formations is poised to usher in an era of energy independence and could bridge the gap between today’s fossil-fuel age and a clean-energy future. But that future may be swamped in a legacy of wastewater, a new study suggests.

Natural gas production is soaring thanks to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a technique that shoots several million gallons of water laced with chemicals and sand deep underground to break apart chunks of the glassy rock, freeing trapped gas to escape through cracks and fissures into wells.

An average of 10 percent of this water flows back to the surface within a few weeks of the frack job. The rest is absorbed by the surrounding rock and mixes with briny groundwater, explained Radisav Vidic, a civil and environmental engineer at the University of Pittsburgh.

“What happens to that water is a very good question,” he told NBC News. “We would like to know how much of it stays in the shale, and for how long, and is there a potential for migration away from the well.”

Vidic led a review study of the scientific literature looking into these questions, which is published in Thursday’s issue of the journal Science.…