Due to an error in an advertisement, the public comment period on three proposed injection wells in Brookfield Township was extended to Jan. 10, said a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Highland Field Services LLC, which is proposing the injection wells to dispose of oil and gas drilling waste water, put an incorrect phone number in the legal notice, said Steve Irwin.
“ODNR will consider any comments received during the errant comment period and the comment period that will run for 15 calendar days after the fifth day of the notices’ second publication period,” Irwin said.
The fifth day was Christmas Day.
The timing of the initial comment period, which was during the holidays and to end Christmas Day, irked some opponents of the wells. Jim Hennessy, Tom Wike and William Sawtelle asked ODNR for a 60-day delay. They also claimed the notice of public comment was insufficient because it used misleading wording and inadequately described a complex issue.
Their letter was never answered, Hennessy said.
Opponents held a town hall meeting Nov. 30 at which about 75 people attended, and a Dec. 27 prayer vigil marking the sixth anniversary of an earthquake in Youngstown that was tied to an injection well there. Only a handful of people attended the vigil on a cold day in Brookfield Center.
Opponents also chided the township trustees for not attending the town meeting, but trustees said their absence did not mean they in any way support the wells.
“I’ll do anything it takes to try to prevent these injection wells,” said Gary Lees, point man for the trustees on this issue.
Highland has begun site improvements on the property in question, on Route 7 north of Wyngate Manor Mobile Home Park. The company already has received permission to build two injection wells there.
Lees said he attended a private meeting with ODNR, Highland and numerous state and county officials. Representatives from ODNR and Highland were invited to the town meeting, but did not attend, and probably never will attend a public meeting, trustees said.
“My concern is that they wanted an elected-officials only meeting because they didn’t want to face the people in this audience who live right there and have legitimate grievances, and they should hear that,” said Jane Spies, spokesman for Frackfree America National Coalition, which sponsored the town meeting. “If they don’t want to hear people get upset then maybe they should stop doing things that are upsetting and against the public health and safety.”
“The effort has been made numerous times to try to get them to sit down with the general public,” said Trustee Ron Haun. “The answer is always going to be no because, you’re right, they don’t want to face you.”
The trustees have tried to work legislatively, they said, such as pushing state Rep. Glenn Holmes’ proposal to set a moratorium on new wells in Trumbull County.
A daunting problem is convincing legislators in other parts of the state to rally to the cause when there are no or few wells in their districts, Haun said.
“You can fight it locally, but you better fight it at the state level if you want to win this battle,” he said.
“That’s what we’re doing, said Spies, noting her organization’s backing of a bill that would ban injection wells in Ohio.
“It’s not either or,” she said.