Members of NoPaxton attended a meeting in Brooklyn on April 5 where local citizens expressed their concerns over two proposed deep injection wells in Norvell Township. These wells are proposed by the oil companies for storing toxic waste related to local drilling efforts. This was the 3rd meeting held on this topic. It was jam packed with good information but very scary information.
In his past career with the DEQ Chris wore a haz-mat suit and participated in cleaning up oil spills. He has alot of insider information on the DEQ and confirmed some rumors we have heard regarding the DEQ in the past. Now we know these rumors to be true, Chris confirmed them with dates and facts. A video recording of his slides will be available soon at Ban Michigan Fracking
3) There is an internal (non public) list of contaminations the DEQ keeps (since deleting their DB in 1995) and it is purported to have 700 sites with contamination. If you extrapolate from the data in, today there are 28,000 wells in Michigan so we could have 1800 contaminated sites from those 28,000 wells.
- Example #1 - 'Hayes 22 Central Production' site example (Gaylord) there were 60 separate events of release of contamination. 3 landowners had to have their drinking water wells closed. A computer model of the contamination showed it would take 20-30 years to clean it up. I think these were the homeowners he cited that got into a lawsuit and had their houses bought by the oil company because they couldn't live in them or sell them to anyone.
- Example #2 - Most of the time the leaks are discovered by landowners, hunters or snowmobilers. Snowmobiler finds brine leaking, it's described by the DEQ as 40 gallons (they don't have to report less than 41 gallons). In reality it was over 400 (it was melting a huge swath of snow).
- Example #3 - Dairy farmer has a leak on his property. They discover crude leaking on the surface and benzene in the creek.
That harmless brine that the DEQ refers to often... Chris showed a slide of all the chemicals in the brine and it covered the screen. Its' not Morton salt. Basically, don't trust the regulator! (his actual words)
All fracking is not the same. Most of the older wells that have been fracked up north, in Antrim shale, are shallow. Much less risky than what's being done in the main target layer now (the Utica/Collingwood shale layer). The fracking being done in Utica/Collingwood is much deeper, therefore more toxic fluids (millions of gallons) and more opportunity for spills and leaks (it's human error afterall that's the main culprit). Up north only 3 wells are fracked in deep Utica/Collingwood layer. This is the deep hydro-fracking that really has everyone concerned.
Deep, high pressure hydro-fracking wells are not regulated like deep injection wells. They are treated like a conventional oil well. They should (presumably) be treated with the same regulation as an injection well since they are under the same sorts of stress (pressures and volumes).
There is no fracking in this area yet but the oil wells in the Irish hills area could easily be converted into fracking wells (they are in the right layer). The only thing that stops the oil companies from doing this is the price of natural gas and a deep injection well (to get rid of the millions of gallons of contaminated water they will create). Once they're done with the oil, and the price of natural gas goes up, fracking will probably begin.
They were proposing two injection wells for toxic waste store in Norvell. Norvell township supervisor discovered after calling DEQ that now they are proposing 3. He also discovered that the DEQ had already approved them (when he told the audience this at the meeting there was a gasp). People were extremely alarmed to discover that the DEQ had approved the wells before the EPA had their public hearing.
Injection wells are typically class I or class II. Class I is most toxic. Michigan has 1500 class II but only 7 class I. A class II can be converted into a class I.
THE GOOD NEWS
Grobbel cited 2 cases where public hearings on deep injection wells had gone in favor of the public (denying the applicant/oil company) and he said that the best tactic to use is to get people to go to the meeting and speak and write to disapprove (fill the room with people). These were in Alba and Kingsley (although Kingsley was ruling by judge and a strange one).