Update: Ohio Department of Natural Resources said that Highland Field Services was to begin drilling well number four, which is north of currently operating well 5 and closer to Merwin Chase Road, on Jan. 8.
Although Highland Field Services has begun operation of the injection well it has built in Brookfield, opponents have kept up their quest to get it shut down.
Brookfield Citizens Against Injection Wells, with the help of Frackfree America National Coalition, is fighting the well in the legal and grass-roots realms.
Brookfield Citizens have appealed the order by the chief of the Ohio Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management that allowed injection. Highland has asked to intervene as a party in the appeal, said Brookfield Citizens’ attorney, James Yskamp of Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services, Akron.
The group can ask for a stay to prohibit injection while the appeal is pending, but has not done so because of the extra cost, Yskamp said.
The parties are waiting for a scheduling order and hearing.
Brookfield Citizens also held a public-awareness event on Dec. 27, a prayer vigil marking the seventh anniversary of a 4.0-magnitude earthquake in Youngstown that was linked to an injection well.
About 20 people came out to hear the Rev. Monica Beasley-Martin of Defenders of the Earth Outreach Mission remind people of the property damage that the earthquake caused, and call for state officials to forsake the money that comes from the drilling industry in favor of preserving the health and welfare of citizens and the environment.
Beasley-Martin, who wore a priest’s collar and a unicorn sweatshirt, noted that as the protesters gathered for the vigil on the green in Brookfield Center, several tank trucks labeled “brine” drove by. Brine is the legal name for the waste water generated by the oil and gas drilling industry. It is legally disposed of by forcing it into porous rock several thousand feet below the earth’s surface.
Beasley-Martin equated support for injection wells and the drilling industry to turning away from God.
“You cannot serve God and money,” she said, stating a goal of getting the wells shut down.
Beasley-Martin also called for a lobbying effort to oppose a bill in the Ohio General Assembly that would allow brine to be used as a road de-icing material.
Highland Field Services, which operates an injection well along Route 7 in Brookfield Township, is not due to report injection volumes at the well until Jan. 30, but it did report a spill on Dec. 4, said the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
According to an inspection docket made available by ODNR, one barrel of brine spilled within a containment dyke due to a failed flange gasket. The gasket was replaced the next day and injection resumed, ODNR said.
“Highland did experience a minimal release of produced fluid inside the tank containment that resulted in no environmental impact,” said Highland spokesman Rob Boulware. “Our technology and safety measures allowed for immediate detection. ODNR was made aware immediately as per procedure.”
Boulware described the first month of operations as going “very well.”
Highland also requested changes to permits it has received to drill two more wells, said ODNR spokesman Steven Irwin. The request seeks changes to the size of the casing and permission to drill by air instead of fluid below a certain level, he said.
“The changes to permits for wells 3 and 4 are similar to the adjustments that were made prior to drilling well number 5,” Boulware said.
Well number 5 is the one in operation.
“The company made changes to its drilling plan to reflect best practices that the parent company (Seneca Resources) has adopted in other regions,” Boulware said.