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Reps. O'Brien, Patterson look to increase public safety through enhanced injection well regulations

Propose law change to add safeguards for waste storage in Ohio
January 7, 2016
Democratic Newsroom

State Reps. Sean O’Brien (D-Bazetta) and John Patterson (D-Jefferson) today announced new legislation to strengthen injection well regulations and procedures for the transportation and storage of liquid waste in Ohio. The bill’s sponsors say the focus of the bill is to ensure the safety of all who work and live near injection well sites while allowing Ohioans to capitalize on energy resources locked in shale formations throughout the state.

“Ohio hasn’t kept pace with the public safety demands stemming from a rapidly developing industry,” said Rep. O’Brien. “This law would modernize the way we do business in Ohio to strike the right balance between corporate profits and protecting people.”

Under this legislation, injection well operators would need to strictly monitor groundwater in the vicinity of their wells and track trucks carrying brine through a GPS system. The bill would also set legal standards for well set-back distances from public water sources, in addition to banning the permanent underground storage of brine in Ohio.

“The growing shale industry has brought new economic opportunities to Ohio, but with that opportunity comes the responsibility to keep people and communities safe,” said Rep. Patterson. “This legislation will provide necessary safeguards that balance the safety of our communities with the continued expansion of this burgeoning industry.

The lawmakers say that, although the state has been slow to enact waste disposal reforms in the past, they remain hopeful that several high-profile spills in the northeastern part of the state will give their colleagues in the Republican-controlled legislature the political will to take up these necessary reforms in the new year.