The Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Environmental Protection will hold a public meeting on the two waste water disposal wells in Columbus Township.
The meeting will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 12, at 6 p.m. at the Columbus Township Fire Department at 44 North St.
Officials from both agencies will answer questions and discuss their roles in the permitting in the Underground Injection Control process.
"This is an opportunity for area residents to talk to both our staff and EPA about the roles we each play in the process," DEP Northwest Regional Director Kelly Burch said in a press release. "The people of Bear Lake asked for an opportunity to meet with us to get answer to their questions, and we want to ensure the process is transparent."
The EPA gave notice of proposal to issue final permits to Bear Lake Properties to operate two Class II injection wells "used for the disposal of produced fluids (brine) associated with oil and gas production activities..." in Columbus Township in September.
Bear Lake Properties, the company that owns the wells, was given permission to inject waste water from drilling into a depleted gas zone within the Medina Formation at a depth between 4,200 and 4,300 feet.
"The two proposed wells in Columbus Township would be authorized to inject fluids produced in association with oil-and gas-production activities. These fluids may be made up mostly of fresh water or could contain elevated levels of chlorides called "brine"," DEP Community Relations Coordinator Gary Clark said in a press release. "The fluids would be pumped back into geologic formations that are able to handle such fluids. There is no discharge from a UIC well onto the land surface or into nearby surface waterways."
Residents opposed to the plans have held two protests near the site of the wells since September.
"It's a bad idea in a bad place. I don't think Trout Unlimited or any of us as organizations have a problem with drilling or injection disposal if it's done properly. This is in our eyes very poor practice of what's being attempted here with some volatile chemicals and fluids that are contained and what they can be used with," Tom Savko, president of Caldwell Creek Chapter of Trout Unlimited, said at the protest in September. "In a day and age when the big oil companies are recycling 100 percent of their wastewater, why are we trying to gamble with what we are doing here? When recycling is a technology, is available and is getting better."
"I'm disappointed as an American citizen," Brokenstraw Watershed Council President Lynne Myers said of the EPA's proposal to issue final permits. "They're on one side, they're not helping us."
Bear Lake Properties President Karl Kimmich and Lenape Resources Inc. President John Holko, who is also a partner in Bear Lake Properties, held a public meeting in October in Bear Lake to "clear up some misconceptions of what the process involves," Kimmich said.
"It's a salt water disposal project. What it is designed to do is take of a growing issue in Pennsylvania and that is with the increasing volumes of production in Marcellus Shale and some other formations with the increase in natural gas is a growing issue with the production which you have with all gas types. Currently a lot of that is taken to Ohio, and we hope to provide another outlet for that here in Pennsylvania," Kimmich said.
The EPA has also issued draft permits for injection wells in Elk and Clearfield Counties.
Clark said a UIC permit from the EPA and a Change of Use permit from the DEP are required to in order to operate an injection well. The UIC permits are issued under the Safe Drinking Water Act and the UIC program.
"The primary objective of the UIC program is to protect underground sources of drinking water, meaning aquifers used for drinking water now or that may be used in the future, from potential endangerment from injection operations," Clark said in the press release. "The regulations have numerous technical requirements built in to ensure the wells are properly constructed and continuously monitored so that groundwater is protected."