MARIETTA -A public meeting to be held Tuesday in Marietta will include information about injection wells used in the fracking process and the impact they can have on the environment.
The Southeast Ohio Fracking Interest Group (SEOFIG) will sponsor the forum at Marietta College's McDonough Auditorium starting at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
The purpose of the meeting is to educate and inform residents of the county who may have concerns over what types of things are being pumped into the ground, according to Cathy Schafer, of Marietta, who is a member of SEOFIG.
"We have nine injection wells in Washington County with two pending in Newport Township," she said. "That is a large number for a state to have and I think it is the most in any county in Ohio."
The forum will include speakers with the Center for Health, Environment and Justice, Meigs Citizens Action Now and a retiree of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.
Pavanne Pettigrew, of Parkersburg, worked for the WVDEP for 17 years as a geologist and expert in groundwater protection and waste injection, specifically into abandoned underground coal mines. She will speak for about 20 minutes on the process and impact of injecting brine, waste produced from the process of hydraulic fracturing.
"There is not a lot of general knowledge of underground injection," Pettigrew said. "But even if you don't live in an area likely to be drilled, injected water is injected into a void and can move very quickly. If it gets into an underground aquifer, anyone can be affected."
Pettigrew said the concern is over what chemicals exactly are in the water being injected and where exactly these injection wells are being placed.
"Coal mines are shallow injection wells and would most likely come into contact with drinking water," she said. "What I would tell any drilling company - I have worked for drilling companies - is that you can't use a chemical in the process of fracking and then inject it into the ground."
Recently, a test was conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at the request of residents of northeastern Pennsylvania who had concerns over the safety of drinking water.
The test determined that the water in the village of Dimock was safe to drink, despite claims to the contrary. Residents had concerns over high levels of methane gas produced by drilling in that area.
The EPA said it plans no further tests on the matter and there is no need to provide an alternate source of drinking water to residents. The agency offers an Underground Injection Control Program, which is responsible for regulating the construction, operation, permitting and closure of any injection wells.
An injection well is a vertical pipe used to pump water, other liquids and sometimes gases deep underground. The process is used in oil and gas production.
Pettigrew will join Teresa Mills with the Center for Health, Environment and Justice and Elisa Young with Meigs Citizens Action Now in the presentation, which will be followed by a question and answer session. The event is free and everyone is invited to attend.