Ohio Department of Natural Resources on June 3 issued what is known as a Chief’s Order allowing Highland Field Services LLC to operate a second injection well on Route 7 north of Wyngate Manor in Brookfield, an ODNR spokesman said.
Another well already has been permitted, but has not operated since January, when a cave-in 7,000 feet below the surface partially blocked it. ODNR’s Adam Schroeder said the well still is “shut in for maintenance.”
While neighbor Jim Hennessy has noted the well site has been eerily quiet since drilling ended on the newly permitted well, the group that he belongs to, Brookfield Citizens Against Injection Wells (BCAIW), which is trying to get the well site shut down, has not been quiet. It held a town-hall meeting May 10 in Brookfield, when the NAACP branches in Trumbull and Ashtabula counties pledged their support.
“Climate and environmental justice is one of the top things we’re working on across the country,” said Trumbull NAACP President Annette McCoy. “For the past few months, we’ve been working on legislation regarding injection wells.”
The national NAACP has written proposed federal legislation, and local chapters are trying to educate legislators in their back yards about the hazards of injection wells, which dispose of the waste water generated by oil and gas drilling by pumping it deep underground.
“This is affecting the health of our children,” McCoy said of injection wells, adding that cancer, lupus and multiple sclerosis are “all related to the environment.”
“Any support that Hubbard needs or any districts in this valley, we’ll be there for support,” McCoy said.
Hubbard city and township officials are trying to stop an injection well proposed for Hubbard Township, and the Hubbard area was well-represented at the Brookfield meeting.
Teresa Mills of Buckeye Environmental Network, which is advising BCAIW, said her organization worked with the NAACP in an unsuccessful attempt to get an environmental justice bill enacted in Ohio.
Mills, who spoke at the meeting, told the about 50 people who attended to be a fly in the ointment of legislators and local officials until they come around to supporting environmental causes such as this one. Call people, send letters and emails, show up at events that officials participate in and vote, she has said.
“Polite people get poisoned,” Mills said. “We need you people to stop being so polite. Stand up, raise hell and change the face of the legislature.”
BCAIW has filed an appeal of ODNR’s permission to inject in the first well. Jane Spies of Frackfree America National Coalition said the appeal hearing before the Ohio Oil and Gas Commission that was to be held in August has been postponed until December.
Appellant attorney James Yskamp of Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services did not respond to a request for comment, and Highland spokesman Rob Boulware did not respond to a request for an update on well operations.