Ohio EPA holds second public hearing in Coshocton

| April 17, 2019

COSHOCTON – Since its October 2018 public hearing, the Ohio EPA has received more than 300 comments and a petition with 1,200 signatures against Buckeye Brine’s proposed conversion of two Class II injection wells to Class I. This overwhelming response lead the Ohio EPA to hold a second public hearing in Coshocton on April 15 in McKinley Auditorium at Coshocton High School.

No new information was reported at the meeting by the Ohio EPA, but Amy Klei, chief of the division of drinking and ground waters, did summarize the timeline of the project.

Buckeye Brine was issued its draft permits on Aug. 31, 2018. The first public hearing was held on Oct. 18, 2018, the public comment period was extended until Nov. 26, 2018, and the public comment period was reopened on March 19, 2019. The second public hearing on April 15 was held to ensure that all public comments were received before final action is taken by the Ohio EPA Director.

Class II injections are deep well injections of oil and gas-produced waste that is regulated by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. A Class I injection well is a deep well injection of industrial waste that is regulated by the Ohio EPA. There are currently three facilities in Ohio operating Class I wells.

The main concerns Ohio EPA have heard from residents are:

  • Concerns that the facility will accept and inject hazardous waste and non-compatible waste.
  • Concerns about having only one monitoring well on the property.
  • Concerns about casing integrity.

Klei said that her department heavily regulates these wells. They do a minimum of two onsite visits, are there to witness testing, can come for additional visits if they feel it is necessary and have authority to act if they see something they don’t like.

Attendees were not reassured by Klei’s comments. They wanted to know who would be responsible in the event of an accident at Buckeye Brine that led to contamination of water. They also were concerned that the company could just shut down and walk away leaving Coshocton to clean up after it. Klei said there would be a strong enforcement of penalties. Kristopher Weiss, from the Ohio EPA Public Interest Center said the EPA also has a 24 hour emergency line.

Others at the hearing brought up concerns about problems that occurred in the 1980s after a Class II injection well in Winona, Texas was converted to a Class I well. Klei said regulations are different now. Additional monitoring and testing is required and automatic shutdown systems are a must.

Another person at the hearing brought up the fact that there are already problems with the two wells Buckeye Brine wants to convert. Klei said those issues do not impact the mechanical integrity of the wells.

After the question and answer session, the Ohio EPA officials then moved on to the public hearing portion of the meeting. Individuals could speak for four minutes at the most and have their comments recorded for the official record.

City Councilman Brad Fuller went on record saying that city council has already submitted a letter expressing its opposition to the proposed change and that all of the members still feel that way.

“We are already working with the Village of West Lafayette to provide their water and could expand from that,” he said. “We want to keep our water as safe as we can.”

Camille McPeek has a background in geology and shared that she understands it is difficult to find factual data but hopes the Ohio EPA will take the time to find answers to people’s questions.

“We want to feel safe about our future,” she said. “I’m a new mom with a baby. This is his hometown. I want to feel safe about his environment.”

Category: People & Places

About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

Comments are closed.