Complaint To Federal EPA Re: K&H 2

June 4, 2014
CERTIFIED MAIL CERTIFIED MAIL
RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED

Gina McCarthy, Administrator Susan Hedman
Office of the Administrator Region V Administrator
Environmental Protection Agency US EPA Region 5
Mail Code: 1101A Mail Code: R-19J
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. 77 West Jackson Blvd.
Washington, DC 20460 Chicago, IL 60604-3590

REPORT ON PROBLEMS IN THE OHIO CLASS II UIC PROGRAM
AND REQUEST FOR FEDERAL INTERVENTION

Dear Administrators McCarthy and Hedman:
This Report is to make you aware of yet another serious problem within the State of Ohio’s delegated Class II Underground Injection Control Program operated by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ (“ODNR”) Division of Oil and Gas.
As I’m sure you recall, on January 7th of this year, the Buckeye Forest Council, on behalf of Ohio residents, submitted a complaint about the K&H #1 (Permit No. 34009238210000) in Athens County, Ohio, asking for a review of the site’s violations and for appropriate enforcement action. At that time, the complainant also asked that you require the ODNR to suspend the permit for the drilling of the second well (K&H #2, Permit No. 34009238230000) until credible and scientifically valid geologic characterization and seismic study had been completed. Despite that complaint, as well as citizen outcry, and the objections of the Athens County commissioners, the second well (K&H 2) was indeed drilled. Inspection reports show that there have been serious problems at the K&H 2 (Permit No. 34009238230000) since its inception, including alarming loss of cement as the casing was being poured, and contamination of nearby water and soil during drilling. We believe these problems pose a serious threat to the health and safety of Athens County residents, and that these problems require action by the federal EPA.
This report is being made to Region V because you have oversight authority over the Ohio Class II UIC program, because the Ohio Class II UIC program is not operating in a manner consistent with the goals of the federal UIC program, and because Ohio law does not provide any mechanism for Ohio citizens to force enforcement of Class II violations by state officials.
We believe that, like the problems at the K&H 1, the problems at the K&H 2 site have not been, and are not likely to be adequately addressed by the State of Ohio’s delegated Class II Underground Injection Control Program. Through a records request, community groups have found out that ODNR geologist Tom Tomastik considers citizen concerns about the ODNR injection well program to be “crap” (please see supporting documents). Given such mean spirited and unprofessional language, it becomes clear that Ohio residents cannot expect to have our legitimate concerns addressed by the very regulatory agency whose job it is to address them. Petty name calling, while unpleasant, is of course not the only reason we have no confidence in the ODNR’s Class II UIC program. We also have no confidence in the ODNR for the following reasons:
1) The Ohio Class II UIC program has a history of enforcement failure on the type of issues presented below and appears to have no interest in deterring non-compliance through presenting a credible enforcement threat to Class II operators.
2) The Ohio Class II UIC program is understaffed and under-resourced to deal with the rapid expansion of Class II waste injection in Ohio caused by the explosion in oil and gas field fracking waste production in Ohio and surrounding states.
3) The Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Ohio’s current political leadership in general have close political and financial ties to the oil and gas industry in Ohio.
For these reasons we are filing our complaint with the federal EPA, hoping that you will take action where ODNR has not.
We file this new complaint to ask you to immediately undertake a review of the following apparent violations and dangerous operations at the K&H # 2 (Permit No. 34009238230000) in Athens County, Ohio. This report is being made by Appalachia Resist! and the Athens County Fracking Action Network on behalf of citizens of Athens County, Ohio.
As stated in the January 7th complaint, it is apparent that the ODNR failed to complete an adequate geologic characterization of the injection well site subsurface prior to issuing the permit for the first well and for the second permit (the K&H # 2, Permit No. 34009238230000) on the same site.
This is apparent for the following reasons:
K&H#1:
1) Captured Well: As stated in the January 7th complaint, the K&H#1 went on vacuum upon start-up, which indicates that the well is a captured well or that a previously unrecognized fault may exist.
2) Loss of Annulus Pressure: As stated in the January 7th complaint (and supported by the inspection reports attached to that complaint), the inspections conducted by ODNR staff demonstrate that the K&H 1 well persistently has lost, or had low, annulus pressure.
K&H #2:
1) Disappearing Cement: Based on the depth of the well, drillers calculated that 114 bags of cement would be needed to set the new conductor at the K&H#2 site. Yet inspection reports show that, upon completion on January 9th, 2014, the cement fell back roughly 10 feet from the surface. Though 4 more sacks of cement were used to bring the casing up to the surface, the cement top fell 10 feet again. Four days later, on January 13th, as the casing pressure test was being conducted, the cement top dropped again, this time an estimated 100 feet below the surface. Again, more cement was used to bring the casing back up to the surface. The cement continued to drop on other occasions (please see attached supporting documents). All in all, between January 9th and January 31st, 2014, 410 feet (or approximately 200 bags) of cement disappeared down the well. It appears that the only remediation for this problem was that the well operators, under the oversight of the ODNR, continued to pour concrete down the hole until it was filled to the surface. Apparently, there was no further investigation about where the cement was going or why its level was dropping.
2) Well Pit Taking on Water: the January 17th inspection report shows that, during construction of the K&H 2, the drill rig accidentally and unexpectedly hit water in the Sandstone formation 1432 feet down. As the pit began to take on water, nearby water and soil were contaminated. The Ohio EPA Spill Response team was called. The well operating company, Central Environmental Services, used a vacuum truck to attempt to remove contaminated water from the site. Inspection reports show that initially, at least 12 tons of contaminated soil and water were removed. Inspection reports show that on January 18th the well operating company used the contaminated soil to build a containment wall around the well pit, before being told to remove it. All in all, they removed at least 20 tons of contaminated soil and water from the site.
There has been no investigation about the cause of the loss of cement. ODNR reports no consultation with headquarters or state geologists or engineers regarding the problem with the cement, why it might have failed in this geologic setting, and whether or not this poses a threat to the environment or to public health and safety.
Additionally, the inspection reports are minimal, and do not provide underlying facts, which prevents an independent review that might determine whether or not the ODNR response was proper. From the reports, it appears that rather than conduct a meaningful investigation, or consult with headquarters or state geologist or engineers, the ODNR inspector simply made an immediate, unconsidered decision to tell the company to simply put more cement down the well to bring it up to the surface.
The response to the loss of cement, and the response to the soil and water contamination at the K&H 2 site represent a fundamental breakdown in Ohio’s regulatory process. The regulatory process requires that state agencies fully consider all relevant facts, implications, and options, and act in the community’s best interest. Yet here, it appears that all ODNR’s regulatory considerations and decisions were made to benefit the company, and to expedite the process of well construction and operation, with no apparent consideration of the community.
The K&H 2 well is injecting into the Ohio Shale, which apparently is naturally faulted and/or extensively fractured in order to be able to accept the injected waste. Disposal wells injecting into fractured flow regimes, as are likely present here, should require an expanded area of review in order to adequately characterize potential reservoir behavior. Reservoir characterization is a crucial component in assessing injection formation flow patterns, the formation’s capacity, and the completion condition of the well. Identifying anomalous reservoir behavior through analyses and then correlating the results with geosciences data is essential to preventing groundwater contamination. The loss of so much cement down the well shaft could imply a fissure or conduit (please see attached supporting document). When taken together with the unexpected hitting of water during drilling, there is clear cause for concern of fluid migration into the aquifer. Groundwater contamination, especially by brine and fracturing fluid, is very difficult if not impossible to address and can destroy underground sources of drinking water. Because the state does not require sufficient geological information be provided before well drilling, the ODNR is not equipped to respond appropriately to potential emergency situations such as this.
We believe that the problems and conduct at the K&H 2 well site constitute a violation of Ohio Revised Code 1501:9-1-07 (Prevention of Contamination and Pollution), and of Ohio Revised Code 1501:9-1-08 (Well Construction). We ask that you bring appropriate enforcement action in the federal courts against the injection well operator identified in this complaint. We ask that you require the ODNR to adopt a standard operating procedure (SOP) to deal with emergency and remedial situations.
We are asking that you exercise the oversight authority available to you to correct the problems with management of the Class II UIC program. Section 1431 of the SWDA gives the administrator broad powers to take action to prevent an impending dangerous situation from materializing once she has information that the “state and local authorities have not acted to protect the public health”. It is apparent the K&H2 UIC in Troy Township, Athens County already poses an imminent threat to the community, even more so once it starts to inject waste. ODNR Oil and Gas personnel continue to demonstrate they have neither the skills nor inclination to manage their Class II UIC program consistent with 21st Century demands and standards. It is imperative that you review this dangerous situation and take appropriate action.
We await your response and actions.
Sincerely,
Appalachia Resist! Athens County Fracking Action Network

Enclosures

EMAIL STRING BETWEEN TOM TOMASTIK , ODNR OIL & GAS, AND INDUSTRY CONSULTANTS MARK HANISH, ARCADIS, AND GEORGE COLVIN, COX-COLVIN & ASSOCIATES, INC .
THE FIRST EMAIL (BOTTOM OF NEXT PAGE) IS MR. TOMASTIK’S RESPONSE TO A CITIZEN’S REQUEST FOR A PUBLIC HEARING ON A UIC PERMIT APPLICATION.
THIS EMAIL STRING WAS RELEASED ONLY AFTER A LAWSUIT WAS FILED BY ACFAN’S ATTORNEY UNDER OHIO’S PUBLIC RECORDS LAW IN ORDER TO FORCE DISCLOSURE OF A LARGE NUMBER OF UIC DOCUMENTS.
ALTHOUGH THE LAW PROVIDES FOR IT, ODNR OIL & GAS DOES NOT AND WILL NOT GRANT A REQUEST FOR SUCH A HEARING.
NOTE THAT MR.TOMASTIK SENT HIS EMAIL OUTSIDE THE AGENCY TO INDUSTRY CONSULTANTS. THEIR RESPONSES SHOW HE HAS VERY CHUMMY RELATIONSHIPS WITH THEM.
From: George Colvin [mailto:george_colvin@coxcolvin.com]
Sent: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 8:17 AM
To: Tomastik, Tom
Subject: RE: UIC Permit Application APATT022697

That explains it

From: Tomastik, Tom [mailto:Tom.Tomastik@dnr.state.oh.us]
Sent: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 8:13 AM
To: George_Colvin@CoxColvin.com
Subject: FW: UIC Permit Application APATT022697

FYI

Tom Tomastik, Geologist 4
Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management
2045 Morse Road, F-2
Columbus, Ohio 43229-6693
(614) 265-1032

From: Tomastik, Tom
Sent: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 8:05 AM
To: ‘Hanish, Mark’
Subject: RE: UIC Permit Application APATT022697

Mark:
This is basically a form letter created by these folks and passed along so they can signed it with their name. Check out their website below.

Injection Wells and Frack Waste

Tom Tomastik, Geologist 4
Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management
2045 Morse Road, F-2
Columbus, Ohio 43229-6693
(614) 265-1032

From: Hanish, Mark [mailto:Mark.Hanish@arcadis-us.com]
Sent: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 8:02 AM
To: Tomastik, Tom; George_Colvin@CoxColvin.com
Subject: RE: UIC Permit Application APATT022697

Although I suspect this one is better written than most….except for ending a sentence in mid-thought on item 11.

Good luck with all that.

…..and Hi George….checking to see whether you are still alive.

From: Tomastik, Tom [mailto:Tom.Tomastik@dnr.state.oh.us]
Sent: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 6:57 AM
To: George_Colvin@CoxColvin.com; Hanish, Mark
Subject: FW: UIC Permit Application APATT022697

Here is the kind of crap I have to deal with from our folks who live in Athens. This is just one of about 80 letters we have gotten so far.

Tom Tomastik, Geologist 4
Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management
2045 Morse Road, F-2
Columbus, Ohio 43229-6693
(614) 265-1032

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