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Deep Injection Well Construction Booms Despite Push to Recycle

Susan Phillips / StateImpactPA

The EPA has approved a permit to turn this former oil well in Warren County into a deep injection well. Nearby residents are appealing the decision.

Drillers use deep injection wells as one option to dispose of drilling waste deep underground. EnergyWire reports on the number of waste disposal wells under construction, or pending permits, in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

“In Ohio, 16 new wells are under construction to take waste “brine” from oil and gas wells. Seven have been granted permits but have not yet been drilled, according to figures provided by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. An additional 20 applications for new brine wells are under review.”

That’s a 25 percent increase over the number of disposal wells operating in Ohio today. And as EnergyWire points out, it’s an unexpected development given how much recycling of waste water Marcellus Shale drillers, and environmental regulators, say is now happening.
“Though less than 8 percent of the brine, used fracturing fluid and drilling waste from Pennsylvania Marcellus wells is injected into disposal wells, that’s up from a little more than 6 percent in 2010. And state records show that the total amount of waste being sent to injection wells has gone up nearly 500 percent since 2010.”
Pennsylvania only has 5 operating deep injection wells(One has been temporarily shut down by the EPA.) Two new permits have been approved by the EPA but are under appeal by local residents. Two other permit applications are pending. State Rep. Bud George, from Clearfield County, has proposed a two-year moratorium on any new injection wells in Pennsylvania.
Deep injection wells have raised alarms after one in Youngstown, Ohio caused an earthquake on New Year’s Day. StateImpact took a closer look at how Pennsylvania’s drilling waste helped contribute to that quake.

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