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« ODNR meets with public on Nelson wells | Main | DRM for e-books: Repeating history, not learning from it »

Transcripts and audio from ODNR information session, 30-May-13


Dan: One of my big concerns is the failure of these wells. I’ve got just a page printed out, this is about a 125 page report from MIT. This page just mentions the problems with some of the causes of failures in wells. And then this is a more intensive study from Pro Publica, and they did a study with like 17,000 violations last year, a lot, there’s a lot. There’s nothing that’s really comprehensive. So here’s my question: What does ODNR do as far as any kind of ongoing monitoring of these wells.

Tom: Let me step around here and talk to you.

D: OK.

T: Well first of all, we are required to inspect these wells quarterly. We have to be out there every eleven or twelve weeks. We have a quarterly monitoring program. When we go on location, there’s a picture of the tank battery over there. We’ll check the tank battery, we’ll look at it, make sure there’s liner integrity of the tank battery. There’s vegetation and basic aesthetics, vegetation that can rip your liners, we’ll look at the integrity of the tanks, do they have the safety equipment on the tanks, you know, the plugs, all the locks, so somebody can’t come there, crack valves, flood fields, you know, have a spill fill up the battery and overflow it, you know. We just do a general, we can’t, we don’t have X-ray machines, we do a general overview of the facility to make sure it’s in good condition. We look for spills, we look for bad handling, make sure they’re using the loading pads on an offload, you know, the brine. Make sure it’s handled correctly. I’ve issued NOV or compliance notices for the guys who lay a hose over the top of the dike, hook it to the truck, when they unhook the truck. So you know, we issue violations for that.

D: OK, so you do these then for all Class 2 injection wells…

T: All Class 2 injection wells in the state of Ohio…

D: Once a quarter?

T: Once a quarter.

D: And so these inspections have already been done on every class two injection well in the state?

T: Yes sir.

D: Can I see this? Are these inspections available online?

T: Yeah, you can do a public records request Jocelyn is the girl in the blue dress down there. Or you can get a comment card and write down that you would like to do a public records request and would like somebody to respond to you .

D: But I just can’t go to the ODNR site?

T: Not yet, we’re working on it. You can go to the injection well site, find an injection well, pull it up, and look at current records that have been scanned. I don’t use that site too often so I’m not sure if all the inspection reports are in there, but anything electronically you can definitely do a public records request if it’s not there and available online.

D: Is there any way to look at violations?

T: Yes, you do a public records request, you can also say: I want to see all the violations, you know, for this particular well.

D: From a transparency perspective that’s really difficult, that’s a very, very bad way for a citizen to be able to keep track, to have to do a separate public records request for everything, that’s really cumbersome.

T: I understand that, and we are working, we’re currently, [inaudible] mineral resources. I’m not going to make excuses, but we are making forward, moving forward to making this real time, so when the inspector submits the inspections to me, I look them over, I approve them, then they get put into the system where the public can look at them.

D: Do you have a go-live date for that?

T: Um, no we don’t. We do have consultants and that on board, we’re working towards that. I don’t know, from my point of view, I’m not in that loop personally.

D: It seems like there’s a much greater sense of urgency to give the industry-facing parts of this attention and funding than there is the citizen-facing parts.

T: Not so much the funding, but, you know, it’s getting busier and things are changing, it’s dynamic. Priority-wise, the laws and the rules to make these safe or the inspection reports available online - we have to prioritize all this. I mean, what’s a higher priority for you - that I have more inspectors on staff, better laws to enforce this, or that you can see what we’re doing?

D: I think actually that having that…

T: Both are very important.

D: Well I think there’s a legitimate safety aspect to having this stuff online where citizens can look at it, because I know that with that business with the alleged violation of the Clean Water Act in Youngstown, it was an ordinary citizen who saw something and contacted ODNR. That didn’t get uncovered through some sort of rigorous regulation or inspection regime. So citizens, so ordinary citizens are able to do the kind of monitoring that…

T: Jocelyn.

Jocelyn: Hi.

T: The inspection reports? Not all of them are available online are they?

J: When they get into our database system we have them in what’s called RBDMS, they’re not online. But RBDMS is available to download from our database.

D: OK. So is that now all of the violations are available to download?

T: Anything that would be on there.

J: Yeah, we would have notice of violation, compliance actions and facility reports. If they’re not on the database you can also request them as a public records request and they get sent out 24 to 48 hours.

D: Right, as I was saying to your colleague, that is a very cumbersome process. If you only ever have one public records request then that’s fine. But if you wanted to watch this stuff and keep an eye on it over time, it’s really difficult.

T: Well I’ll tell you this, police reports and all that stuff, that’s not real time either. I mean, wildlife’s not real time, you think about all the regulatory agencies that are out there, EPA, none of that’s real time. We are moving forward to make that available to the public. I mean, let’s compare ourselves to all regulatory agencies.

D: Well, I compare it…

T: Some of these are criminal investigations…

D: I compare it to the risk that’s being visited on my community.

T: I understand that.

D: For something where this kind of permitting is going on a regular basis, there’s new stuff getting rolled in, rolled in, rolled in…

J: Well the permitting is different from the violations though, you’re confusing the two different, a violation is only going to be issued on a well that’s A) already drilled B) already producing or C) going in to a final completion or anything like that. So the permitting is available online.

D: Right, I was asking about the inspection process.

J: Right, but you’re comparing the two difference, the permitting that’s going on versus the violations being available. So we’re going to go ahead and go…

T: We can talk a little more afterward, sir.

D: OK, alright thank you.


Trish: What additional monitoring will the Soinski injection wells be subjected to given that if there’s any horizontal well drilling or further activity that could affect these injection wells?

Official: I’m going to have to wait a second and have you talk maybe talk to maybe Bob Forstall [sp?] or somebody else. I’m not going to get recorded and say something.

[Recording stops, then resumes.]

Mary: We can’t address this here [inaudible]?

O: We’ll wait till, there will be a comment period after the presentation. I think a lot of the questions that you might have regarding the program and how it operates, what it does, will be addressed in that presentation. So…

[15 seconds inaudible]

Gwen: …about the Soinski wells that, these permits are pending. And we were told that there would be experts who would be able to answer the questions specifically about the wells whose permits are pending.

O: If we could wait until he does his presentation we’ll see, then there will be a comment period after that.

[Cross talk]

T: Will he be speaking to Soinski specifically or…?

O: There will be issues on Soinski specifically, there will also be other programming.

G: Well it sounds [inaudible] the email that I got, we are holding this public meeting specifically to assuage the questions or concerns the public has discussed about the permitting of this injection well…

[Cross talk.]

Unidentified official: We’re not allowing that now.

Unidentified speaker: Oh no, there’s audio, there’s audio.

Unidentified official: Right, we’re not allowing that at this time unless you’re media.

Unidentified speaker: No…

Unidentified official: Sir, I’m going to have to ask you…

Unidentified speaker: They didn’t say anything about audio.

Unidentified official: That’s what I was given direction on.

Unidentified speaker: I showed it to her and she said fine, that’s fine.

Unidentified official: Ask him, they said audio was fine.

Unidentified speaker: I was told no sir, so I’m asking you please to do that.


Mary: Right now the policeman or the sheriff guy is going to go and get someone who said that the sunshine law thing could not apply to this meeting, is that right George?

George: Yeah.

M: He said that the sunshine law would not apply to this meeting, is that what you’re telling me?

G: Yeah, he said no public, only the media can have audio and the public can’t have either audio or video even though it’s a public meeting. So we’re going to get his name and have him sign it.

M: The policeman as well?

G: Yes, the commander that gave it, because he’s in violation.

M: Sir, are you a state trooper or what are you? Oh, you’re Ohio…


M: Oh you’re the ODNR guy. You’re the ODNR guy. OK. Do you want that guy’s name? He’s standing right here.

G: No, I want his commander’s name. He didn’t give the order.

M: Oh well right now we’re taping this and we’re waiting to hear from the guy who says we are not allowed to tape.


Some here this evening must be feeling very reassured after we heard Mr. Tomastik’s presentation to us. So why are we here? If there are no problems and if everything is pretty benign and we have all these regulations in place and there have been no evidences of contamination or well casing failures or anything, why are we here?

And I want to talk to you who are wondering why you’re here if this is such a great technology. I only have my two and a half minutes, so I want to assure you that so much research, so much documentation, and so many men, scientists, neurologists, toxicologists, geologists, hydrologists, the majority of professionals and citizens in other states and countries, some of whom are here tonight.

We have doctors, we have PhD’s, we have scientists right here in this room with us tonight who would offer you at least a thirty five minute presentation just as beautifully done with pretty much the absolute opposite results, and the opposite information. That this is not benign, that there are many, many accidents, there is plenty of documentation, I can’t even specifically mention the cement failure, the casing failure, the contamination that has occurred, not just from above ground.

Although he [Tomastik] is right about that, he is right about that. Most contamination occurs from right above ground, and believe me it’s as serious as if it occurred below ground in the aquifer itself. Please remember that ODNR and the oil and gas companies depend on what they are doing right now the way they are doing it. And I respectfully ask you to consider the source. You don’t need to believe everything you hear. If you’re here tonight because you’re thinking of leasing your land please do the research first.

Just go online and put in to Google - “fracking,” “fracturing” or “hydraulic,” you know, blah blah - problems with: chemicals, contamination, property values, health effects, cement failure, silica sand respiratory reaction, all of these things. I’m sorry? No, somebody said something? Casing deterioration. Don’t just accept what you hear here tonight if that’s why you’re here, because you want information.

We’ve had a great positive presentation and I do thank them. Some of these young people around, and I hope they go back to the ODNR in Columbus and I hope when they get there because you guys have the skill - just one more minute, I’m sorry - you have the skill, you have the expertise and you have the position to take back our educated concerns and our deep love for our land and our air. And we really would like for you to take that kind of caution back with you because a lot depends on that. Thank you very much.

OK, I am an 83 year old. American birthday on the fourth of July. And I have to say that I have never, ever attended a democratic meeting so grotesquely oversupplied with armed people. I counted fourteen armed brownshirts - I call them brown shirts, good old Nazi thing - [inaudible]. Why do we need this kind of armed force for a democratic meeting? I did not bring [inaudible]. None of my friends brought [inaudible]. I want an answer: who decided on the number of armed people at this meeting?

Good evening. After listening to the presentation all I can say is wow, I didn’t know they were that safe. I really can’t wait for something like that to appear in my backyard. Or your backyard. We all know that I’m being facetious.

I’m somewhat amazed. I thought we were going to be presented tonight with information about what’s going on in the northern part of our county, since that’s what actually prompted this meeting. And so far I have not heard anything other than generalities dealing with injection wells generally. So I’m somewhat disappointed in that.

Secondly, I just don’t understand why it is that the presentation was so one-sided, to where, why do they have to convince us that these injection wells are that safe when just about everybody out here has the ability to [inaudible] to come to find out that they’re not. They’re not that safe.

And why is it that ODNR has to put on this kind of sales presentation in the first place. Why do we have to have a sales presentation like this put on for us to convince us that it’s safe? My answer to that is, follow the money. ODNR does not represent the people of the state of Ohio. ODNR represents the gas and oil companies and the interests of the gas and oil companies.

They want to make sure that the gas and oil companies can produce their shale gas and oil at the cheapest rate possible. And being able to get rid of the flowback in our backyards is one of the ways they can do that. Why does ODNR have an interest in this? Because every gallon, every barrel of gas and oil that’s produced, they get a percentage of. So it’s in their best interest to make sure that production levels are as high as it can be.

So, my three questions that I have on cards here that I’ll turn in to you. The speaker insinuated only clean saltwater is being injected into the injection wells. He said there might be some other stuff. Mostly just clean saltwater, the kind of salt we put on our food. I’d like to know what other chemicals and what amount of other chemicals are being injected, and where the chemicals are coming from.

I understand we’re also getting medical waste, where the hospitals can take something and puree it and put it in something that’s pumpable, this is also being put down the injection wells.

The speaker spent considerable time saying methane is in just about all of our wells. Which is probably true. I would like to know if it’s biothermic methane or endothermic methane. This has been well researched by Duke University to show that biothermic is surface methane. It’s from the natural biodegradation of living material. Endothermic methane is coming from the shale wells. And they can tell which one it is.

I would like to know: is the shale that’s being fracked in the wells biothermic or endothermic? And the last one: The speaker kept referring to the gas and oil being taken out of clay deposits. I assume that’s because clay is rather non-porous, and the stuff doesn’t move around through clay very much, as much as shale is very porous. Stuff can move around in shale quite easily.

I would like to know what term is more accurately being described for the use of the gas and oil that’s coming out of the shale. And for the injection wells, we’re pushing it down in there, is it going in to clay or is it going in to shale? Thank you.

I have a number of questions. The first five questions I submitted during the public comment period and have never received a comment from ODNR yet. So I’ll just read my questions…[Audience member: “speak a little louder.”]

Soinski wells 1 and 2 are within 500 feet of Eagle Creek. How will the environment around Eagle Creek be protected? Please be specific.

Soinski wells 5, 6, and 7 in Nelson Township. The original permit application did not contain geologic review, an EPA review, or a drinking water review. Have they been done? When and where will they be available to the public?

All seven of the original Soinski saltwater injection well applications indicated the application was also for an enhanced recovery program. Has ODNR approved this dual use for any of these applications? If yes, please explain why and document.

None of the original seven Soinski well applications contained surface facility sketches. Where will the storage tanks be? Where will the concrete containment facility be relative to the unloading location? How will fluids be moved from the tanks to the wells? Please provide a surface facility sketch for each of these application numbers: (And I list the application numbers.)

Soinski wells 3 and 4. The area review maps with the original applications do not show the permitted horizontal Utica wells, along with their laterals. Describe the relationship between these horizontal wells and the proposed injection wells.

Now I did feel that same earthquake on December 31st of 2011, so this comment is based on that. Investigation of the Youngstown seismic activity on 12/31/11 concluded that it was triggered by the depth of the injection well. On this Soinski property there are deep production laterals that have been or are being fractured. What research are you depending on in your review of these injection well applications so insure that no seismic events are induced?

And lastly, is the waste fluid being injected in Ohio Class 2 wells tested for any form of radiation? If so, what forms of radiation? When is the testing done, and by whom? And what does ODNR deem to be a safe level of radiation in these fluids?

Mary: Excuse me, why is Mr. Tomastik not in here? He’s not even in here. He’s not even hearing our questions.

Official 1: I mean, we’re recording [crosstalk] share with his staff.

M: Oh, but we were his captive audience, this is, he needs to be here. We wanted to hear him. Can you ask him to come back? Ask Mr. Tomastik to come back in. Or I’ll go ask him, may I invite him in?

Official 2: If you’d like to leave. But yes, we’ll get the questions in.

M: He’s going to watch TV but we want him here now.

O1: He’s not watching TV.

O2: We’re over somebody’s time.

Audience member: My question is, to go to these meetings, everybody asks questions that are never answered. I want to know where we can find the answers to each and every one of these questions…[foreground conversation starts]

M: Why isn’t he in here? Where did he go? Where is Mr. Tomastik?

Official 3: He’s around here somewhere.

M: Is he playing basketball? Where is Mr. Tomastik?

Unknown speaker: I don’t know - what does he look like? I probably…

M: He’s kind of a short guy and I just saw him walking out.

O3: Who are you looking for?

M: Mr Tomastik.

O3: I could answer.

O2: We’re all on the department of natural resources.

M: Oh, we have all these questions for him and he’s not even listening.

O2: Which one is this? The one that gave the talk?

M: Yeah!

O2: He was just standing here. Maybe he went to the restroom.

O3: Right there he is, he’s in the restroom, he’s coming back.

M: OK, ask him to please come back, you know, we’re asking all these questions for his sake.

I wanted to point out that certainly Mr. Tomastik is correct that most of the problems are surface problems. But there are also problems when the cement is being poured. There is a slumberge [sp?] document available online that talks about the very difficulty of pouring cement without there being problems at the time of pouring. And that cement cracks.

Anthony Ingraffea, who is a fracture engineer, talks about the impossibility of determining where fractures will occur during hydrofracking. I would like to know what research ODNR is depending on to indicate that it is safe to have two clusters of injection wells so close together that they appear within a half mile of each other, and that they are right on top of the laterals of horizontal fracturing shale wells.

I’d like to know what the research is that ODNR is depending on that this is a safe thing to do. Where else has this been done so we know it’s safe, we don’t have to wait, the neighbors don’t have to wait until something happens, either a seismic event or some kind of contamination. Thank you.

A geologist just explained the safeguards of injection wells. But geologists should have a clear understanding of geologic time. The city of Akron is paying nearly eight hundred million dollars to clean up surface water, not ground water, surface water (ground water is more expensive), due to combined [inaudible] contamination. The message is clear: Cleaning up contaminated water is extremely expensive.

How long will the geologists certify that our groundwater supply will remain unaffected from the high pressure, the toxic environment, of an injection well? One hundred years? Two hundred years? A thousand? For what? A twenty year supply of gas? What is geologic time? What are we leaving for our ancestors?

I feel very safe in this park and I always have. And I am not a government conspiracist. I’m a liberal so I don’t even have any of that stuff. [inaudible] the state coming in tonight with an army has really got me very nervous and I don’t want to ask any more questions. Thank you.

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