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Ohio officials halt drilling injections in Youngstown

posted Jan 3, 2012, 9:31 AM by Kellie Lynch   [ updated Jan 10, 2013, 10:39 AM ]
Regulators in Ohio called a moratorium on underground frac-water injections within five miles of a well in Youngstown, OH on Saturday, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article ("Ohio Shuts Wells Following Quakes"). The order followed two earthquakes in the area in late December, which officials feared might be linked to a nearby injection well belonging to D&L Energy. 

A further article in the Akron Beacon Journal reported that a total of 11 quakes in Northeast Ohio have occurred since the well came into use ("Northeast Ohio rocked by 11th earthquake linked to Youngstown injection wells"). The Youngstown Vindicator also noted that there had never been a recorded earthquake with an epicenter in the county prior to St. Patrick's Day 2011 ("'Year of the Earthquakes' in Mahoning Co.").

The state is currently conducting tests to determine if the well can be officially linked to the two December earthquakes, which respectively reached 2.7 and 4.0 on the Richter scale. The Wall Street Journal noted that a Southern Methodist University study from 2010 previously linked injection wells to earthquakes in the Dallas-Forth Worth region.

ABSMaterials is anxiously awaiting results from these tests, which will determine how safe it is for oil and gas companies to inject contaminant-laden drilling fluids deep underground. D&L's Youngstown well is one of only 194 in the state, so the results will likely have a big impact on the way frac-water is handled in Ohio in the future. 

In the meantime, ABSMaterials' subsidiary, PWAbsorbents, Inc., is using advanced Osorb systems to treat contaminated flowback water at hydraulic fracturing sites in order to create safe water recycling. Injection wells can be a useful method of disposal, but water recycling is ultimately a cleaner, safer alternative without seismic side effects.