Local group hopes to keep fracking away from Columbus area

Columbus Community Bill of Rights group visits injection well in Morrow County. (WCMH)

COLUMBUS (WCMH)— Local organization Columbus Community Bill of Rights is hoping to garner enough signatures for a ballot initiative in time for the November 2017 election that would prevent the effects of fracking from ever reaching the Columbus area.

The group wants to ensure that no fracking or wastewater injection wells are ever a consideration in Columbus. They point to 13 injection well in Morrow County—among 200 statewide—where brine and fracking wastewater are disposed.

Members of the group are concerned about the risk of leakage of contaminated wastewater finding its way into the watershed at some point in the future.

In December 2016, the federal Bureau of Land Management auctioned 719 acres of the Wayne National Forest in southeastern Ohio near Marietta for proposed fracking interests.

Environmental groups have fought this sale, believing that the threat of potential air, water and noise pollution was not adequately addressed in the environmental assessments involving the state’s only national forest.

A study conducted by the Bureau of Land Management concluded that there is no significant environmental harm caused by fracking. Gas and oil companies have already established drilling sites on leased parcels considered private property, once parcel ownership was established

Hydraulic fracturing injects upwards of 5 million gallons of water, chemicals and sand into deep shale to release trapped natural gas, and will increase the number of conventional gas and oil wells, which currently number 1,200, in the 240,101-acre forest.

The federal agency offers a required 30-day comment period to review complaints that cited potential environmental and health impacts related to air and water pollution, followed by a 30-day time frame to hear appeals. The entire process takes about six months, according to a bureau spokesperson, pending the submission of drilling applications for permits.

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