Ohio’s natural gas drilling industry is creating a tax boost for some counties. But the hydraulic fracturing, or fracking process used to extract the gas generates millions of gallons of waste water that has to be stored in injection wells deep underground. Turns out, one Northeast Ohio county stores more of the waste water than any other part of Ohio.
Every year, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources collects records from the companies that pick up the salty waste water from drilling sites and truck it off to one of the state’s underground injection wells.
Last year, the so-called brine haulers sent more than 2.3 million barrels of drilling waste water to injection wells around seven counties of Northeast Ohio.
Of those counties—namely Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Medina, Portage, and Summit—Portage accepted the most at over 2.2 million barrels. That accounts for 16 percent of all the leftover drilling fluid the state injected, and is the highest percentage of any other county.
Jeffrey Dick is a professor of geology and environmental sciences at Youngstown State University. He says more liquid waste goes to Portage County because of the history of oil drilling in that region.
Dick: “It has to do with existing oil and gas production in the state of Ohio. If you look at Portage County and then a little to the south Stark county, they both have a good amount of injection wells. The simple reason is that we have a major oil and gas producing field in those two counties in the Clinton Sandstone.”
Most of Ohio’s 191 injection wells are located in the eastern half of the state.. Dick says that total, as well as the amount of waste water they accept, is expected to increase as the state ramps up more gas production in the next few years.
The environmental research group, FracTracker Alliance, has been mapping the location of Ohio's injection wells, landfills, and the volume of drilling waste they receive. Click on the link below to check out the detailed, interactive map to find drilling waste stored near you.