Slope Creek Petition Cover Letter & Supporting Studies
Slope Creek Petition with 2300+ names (44mb PDF)
Local News Coverage of Slope Creek Lawsuit
WTRF News Statement to GulfPort
Radiological Fracking Concerns for Ohio
March 19, 2015
By CASEY JUNKINS Staff Writer , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register
BARNESVILLE - Citing a potential loss of "millions of dollars," Marcellus and Utica shale driller Gulfport Energy is suing the village of Barnesville for the right to draw water from the Slope Creek Reservoir for its nearby fracking operations.
Filed earlier this month in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Gulfport's lawsuit claims the Oklahoma City-based firm should be allowed to take water from the reservoir, located about five miles south of the village, unless the "health and safety of area residents and businesses are impaired."
"Barnesville has frustrated Gulfport's right to develop minerals under the mineral rights agreement by refusing to provide Gulfport with water in violation of Gulfport's water rights," company attorney O. Judson Scheaf states in his complaint. "Barnesville has wrongfully maintained that Gulfport's water rights are limited by the 2014 water use agreement between Barnesville and Antero" Resources.
Court documents show that on Aug. 17, 2012, Barnesville officials signed an agreement permitting Gulfport to buy water from the Slope Creek Reservoir at a price of one cent per gallon. The contract shows the firm would be able to draw the water until a point when the village would determine such action would endanger public health.
Less than one month later, on Sept. 10, 2012, village leaders signed an oil and natural gas lease with Denver-based Antero, another significant driller in the western Belmont County area. Antero agreed to pay the village $5,700 per acre along with production royalties of 20 percent once gas starts flowing. Antero later signed the Barnesville Exempted Village School District, as well as many individual mineral owners in and around the corporation limit, to similar deals.
Scheaf said Gulfport and Antero reached a mutual development agreement in June. Now, Gulfport believes it should have "assurances of performance" to ensure that it can attain enough water to support fracking operations.
Barnesville officials have not yet filed a response to Gulfport's complaint. Village Administrator Roger Deal Wednesday referred questions to Village Solicitor Marlin Harper, who could not be reached for comment.
David Castle, a spokesman for a group known as the Concerned Barnesville Area Residents, said frackers had been drawing water from the reservoir until officials told them to stop last fall because the water level dropped so low.
"It's been a tremendous source of concern for the community. We sent a petition signed by 2,500 people to Gulfport asking them to move their drilling pads farther away from the reservoir," Castle said.
Concerned Barnesville Area Residents (CBAR) is dedicated to the protection of our natural resources in the face of massive shale industry development. We have educated ourselves about the the negative health and environmental impacts associated with this industry. Many concerned residents in the Southeastern Ohio hills insisted on responsible development and achieved success in a campaign which resulted in the abandonment of an ODNR permitted fracking waste facility a mile from our Village of Barnesville. There is an abundance of research which concludes that Shale Development poses significant risk to public health and the environment. We have provided links to video presentations and scientific studies on the potential risks. You can also read our editorials and learn about the crucial issues local residents are facing due to the invasive Shale industry. It is imperative that all put forth the necessary efforts to protect our children's future.
Concerned Barnesville Area Residents (CBAR) is dedicated to protecting our health and environment from risks associated with the shale gas industry.
CBAR began organizing in the spring of 2014 when residents of the Barnesville, Ohio area became aware of a plan for the disposal of 600,000 tons per year of potentially radioactive shale well drill cuttings just a mile from the town. We learned that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) had issued the very brief "Chief's Order" permitting operations by EnerGreen Holding Company LLC in less than one week after receiving their application.
Concerned residents began attending Village Council meetings to raise their concerns. In response, Barnesville Village Council hosted a town meeting on May 12, 2014, attended by over 100 area residents. In favor of the project we heard from EnerGreen President Rob Smith who described the drill cuttings as just "dirt" and from Ohio EPA Director Greg Butler who said the OEPA was looking for "beneficial use" for drill cuttings.
In opposition we heard from Dr. Julie Weatherington-Rice who explained that black shale is naturally radioactive and that Ohio has chosen the least restrictive definition of radioactivity in drill cuttings. Then attorney Nathan Johnson of Ohio Environmental Council explained that Ohio has "no rules" to regulate drill cuttings because ODNR has not written the statute that would be required.
Over the following weeks CBAR placed a full page ad in the local paper and conducted a petition campaign to persuade the Belmont County Port Authority, which owns the industrial park where the disposal was planned, to vote it down. Our central concerns were:
- The state of Ohio has NO regulations in place to protect the public from potential health hazards related to drill cuttings.
- West Virginia and Pennsylvania consider the materials that EnerGreen proposed bringing to Belmont County so potentially dangerous that they must be disposed of only in regulated and licensed landfills. The lack of regulations in Ohio makes us the likely destination for drill cuttings from out-of-state.
- The Port Authority's lease agreement with EnerGreen, far from protecting the community, appeared designed to pass all the liability on to the community, while protecting EnerGreen.
On July 24, 2014 over 50 concerned residents attended the 8:00am Port Authority board meeting in St. Clairsville at which the vote was scheduled on the project. After a brief presentation, EnerGreen pulled their application, so the vote was not held.
Following the conclusion of the EnerGreen case, CBAR attention shifted to concerns about potential contamination of the Barnesville water supply from the proximity of shale wells to the Slope Creek reservoir. We conducted a petition campaign to persuade Gulfport Energy to keep well pads a safe distance from the reservoir and lobbied the Village to prepare a "Source Water Protection Plan", which is currently in preparation, under the guidance of the Ohio EPA.
Other issues that have received attention are air contamination from shale gas operations and "brine" or fracking flowback disposal.
National News Story featuring Slope Creek Reservoir issues.
Dr. Anthony Ingraffea of Cornell University, a former industry insider who worked as a researcher for over 20 years (till 2003) for industry giant Schlumberger and the Gas Research Institute (now the Gas Technology Institute) on some of the very processes now being employed to access shale gas.
Ingraffea spoke at Luzerne County Community College in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania late in 2010.
During this TEDx Albany 2013 talk entitled "Leaking Gas/Oil Wells: Water Well Contamination and Methane Emissions", Anthony describe a recent detailed study of well integrity performance in the Pennsylvania Marcellus shale play.