Injection Wells 101

Injection wells are wells that take the “brine”, “produced water”, “fracking fluid” the liquids that are used to drill oil and gas wells. It is laced with toxins and radioactivity. Tanker trucks haul this to an injection well and, under pressure, dump it into the well. It goes into the porous rock formation at the end of the pipe. About 3000 to 4000 feet down.

There are 4 wells in Athens County. 2 are in Rome Township. The others are in Lee and Alexander Townships. There are pending permits for 2 more wells – in Rome and Troy Townships.  Each well has a yearly limit of how much wastewater it can take. Nearby states – West Virginia, New York, and Pennsylvania don’t allow injection wells so their states’ frack water is brought to Ohio and dumped in our wells. As fracking grows the number of injection wells in Ohio is bound to increase.

Truckers are not required to tell the well owner what is in the wastewater- they only have to disclose how many gallons they are dumping.

Drillers of new Injection Wells are required to post a Public Notice in a local Newspaper for 5 days. Citizens then have 15 days to send in comments and concerns about the permit application to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. They can only comment on that well application with any concerns about:

1. Health and safety

2. Conservation

They can also ask for a Public Hearing to be held where these issues can be raised in a public forum. Issues raised are required to be considered by the ODNR Chief of Oil and Gas before they grant the permit.


1. Many of the chemicals used in fracking are hazardous to heath. They would not be allowed if the industry was regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act which regulates underground chemical injections. The oil and Gas industry is also exempt from that law and from the Clean Air and Water Acts.

2. Companies don’t have to tell what they are injecting.  If there is an accident, health professionals can access information but must keep it confidential. They can’t even tell the patient.

3. Wells leak. A ProPublica review of well records, case histories and government summaries of more than 220,000 well inspections found that structural failures inside injection wells are routine. From late 2007 to late 2010, one well integrity violation was issued for every six deep injection wells examined

4. We don’t know how long chemicals will stay underground. Tom Myers, a hydrologist, drew on research showing that natural faults and fractures are more prevalent than commonly understood to create a model that predicts how chemicals might move in the Marcellus Shale. Myers’ new model said that chemicals could leak through natural cracks into aquifers tapped for drinking water in about 100 years, far more quickly than had been thought. In areas where there is hydraulic fracturing or drilling, Myers’ model shows, man-made faults and natural ones could intersect and chemicals could migrate to the surface in as little as “a few years, or less.”

5. Mechanical Integrity tests are only required to be done every 5 years on Class II Injection Wells. If a leak is discovered it may have been leaking for some time.

6. Of the 12.2 million barrels of brine injected into Ohio disposal wells last year, 53 percent came from Pennsylvania and West Virginia.    Radium in one sample of Marcellus shale wastewater, also called brine, that Pennsylvania officials collected in 2009 was 3,609 times more radioactive than a federal safety limit for drinking water. It was 300 times higher than a Nuclear Regulatory Commission limit for industrial discharges to water.

1 thought on “Injection Wells 101

  1. Pingback: Root Force » Blog Archive » Can We Be Done Yet?

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