DISASTER WAITING TO HAPPEN? Have regulations made industry safer? Or could disaster strike again? by Burton Speakman, September 28, 2012, Vindy.com
A house in Geauga County exploded Dec. 15, 2007, in Bainbridge Township near the site of a vertically fracked well. The two residents in the home at the time of the explosion were not injured, but the house had significant damage, according to Ohio Department of Natural Resources records. Early in the investigation, investigators recognized that natural gas was entering homes via water wells. ODNR determined that accumulation and confinement of deep, high-pressure gas combined with a poor cement casing of the English No.1 Well between Nov. 13, 2007, and Dec. 15, 2007, resulted in too much pressure, which caused the gas to escape into the water table. ODNR cited three factors that led to gas invading shallow aquifers: inadequate cementing of the production casing before remedial cementing; the decision to frack the well without addressing the issue of minimal cement behind the production casing; and the 31-day period after fracking where high-pressure gas was kept within a restricted space with insufficient concrete.
Immediately after Bainbridge, the industry and the state began working together to make sure an incident like this would not happen again, said Tom Stewart, executive vice president of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association. “We created some calculations that had to be made for cement jobs, and if they weren’t met, there would have to be remedial action,” Stewart said. “We also stepped up the notice procedure to allow the state to be there to attend, inspect and witness the most crucial steps in the construction of a well.” Those crucial steps include the installation of the pipe and the surface casing, Stewart added. Then in the next legislative session, SB 165 was designed to create new laws that dealt with well-construction language to formalize urbanized drilling. It also increased funding for regulatory oversight of the oil and gas industry paid for by increasing the severance tax paid by oil and gas producers. The most recent change occurred with SB 315, which went into effect in June and added additional safety measures in both the drilling process and injection-well controls, he said. Under this legislation, companies have to provide the Ohio Department of Natural Resources with significant amounts of information about the drilling and construction of a well to make sure risks are minimized.
Casing in Ohio must be placed to depths more than 450 feet lower than the deepest water wells in the state. “The required depth of this casing ensures the protection of our water resources — a priority for every developer — and is furthered by Ohio’s strict casing cement standards,” Alfaro said. [Emphasis added]
[Refer also to: Gas-well ordeal finally ends well
Forty-three households were involved in the class-action suit…. A separate amount was given to Mr. and Mrs. Payne, whose house on English Drive was lifted off its foundation by the explosion. Ohio Valley Energy and other companies involved with the drilling also paid off Nationwide Insurance, which had the coverage on the Paynes’ home.