“It used to be beautiful,” Gloria Douglas said of the sight from her back porch, which looks out across her manicured backyard to what was the largely wooded neighboring property.
Ever since construction started on the injection wells slated for north of Wyngate Manor Mobile Home Park, where Douglas lives, she has had to put up with the smell of burning fuel, the heat from the machines, which wafts over to Wyngate, and the noise.
Oh, the noise.
“You get ear popping, you get pressure, you get ringing for hours and hours,” she said at a Jan. 27 meeting.
Prior to construction, birdsong was the most she would hear, Douglas said. Enough trees have been knocked down that she can see the homes on Merwin Chase Road, and the animals that frequented the woods have gone, she said.
Douglas has been shooting videos that are posted on YouTube – links are available at the Frackfree America National Coalition web site, www.frackfreeamerica.org – to aid the cause of the anti-injection well movement in the township.
Highland Field Services LLC has received permission from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to build two injection wells on the property for the disposal of brine that is a waste product of the oil and gas drilling industry. Three more applications for the same location are pending, said ODNR spokesman Steve Irwin.
Opponents have formed a loose-knit group called Brookfield Citizens Against Injection Wells.
The noise from the site “should really inspire a whole lot of people to get involved in this,” said Merwin-Chase resident Bill Sawtelle. “The noise is not going to get better – it’s going to get worse.”
Sawtelle was talking about the noise from the tanker trucks coming in and out, and then from the injection process, which would dispose of brine into rock about 8,700 feet below the surface.
In addition, those trucks, if traveling northbound on Route 7, will have to make a left turn into the site, and opponents see traffic snarled as they stack waiting to make that left.
“Brookfield is unique in that your emergency services are right there,” said Jane Spies of Frackfree America, who has been helping citizens organize. The Brookfield Township Fire Department, which also provides emergency medical service, is just south of the site.
Sawtelle said he had a severe heart attack about a year ago and is still alive thanks to the quick response of the township paramedics.
“It would have been life or death for me if they would have been impeded,” Sawtelle said.
Highland has said that it expects about 25 trucks a day at the site initially, Spies said.
“The key word is ‘initially,” she said, doubting the company’s word. “We need to know, ‘How many trucks?’”
Wyngate only has one way in or out, and bottlenecks at the injection site could hamper resident vehicular movement, Douglas said.
“It’s scary that we’re going to get trapped,” Douglas said.
Opponents also fear the potential for spills – few of them believe Highland’s assertion that the material injected will not contain hazardous chemicals – and earthquakes, which have been shown to be caused, in some instances, by injection wells.
The group is working on many fronts to try to prevent the wells, from educating neighbors and friends and contacting public officials to pushing ODNR to use its discretionary power and supporting anti-well legislation.
This is an election year and organizers said people need to press those running for office to state a position, even at the federal level. Township Trustee Gary Lees said he has asked to be involved in any candidates’ nights hosted by the Trumbull County Township’s Association so he can do just that.
“We need to show both R and D where we stand,” Lees said, referring to Republicans and Democrats. “We’re the victims, here.”
Lisha Pompili-Baumiller, a Hubbard City Council member and Democratic candidate for Trumbull County commissioner, told residents to look beyond Brookfield for grass-roots support. She invited the group to appear at the next Hubbard council meeting and ask council to pass a resolution opposing the wells.
“We’re a neighboring city,” she said. “We’re trying to show our support.”
Hubbard city and township officials have appeared at other group events to support the anti-well movement, mindful of the landfill that was once proposed for Hubbard Township.
Lisa DeSantis is a New Castle resident who also attended the meeting. “We’re all connected,” she said of her participation.
DeSantis said earthquakes have damaged her water lines twice, and that a natural gas cracker plant under construction in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, will increase the demand for natural gas and drilling waste disposal.
Sawtelle said the group is embracing the tried-and-true methods of agitation to fight the wells.
“I want to be annoying enough that they say, ‘Maybe there’s something to this?’” Sawtelle said.
The next group meeting will be held at 2 p.m. Feb. 17 in the Brookfield Branch Library of the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library, Grove Street.