by Doug Brown
Cuyahoga County's rural neighbor to the southeast is getting some national attention for being the "biggest dumping ground for fracking waste in a state that is fast becoming the go-to destination for the byproduct of America's latest energy boom."
Mother Jones editorial fellow Thomas Stackpole recently published the 1,000-word feature on Portage County and the hydraulic fracturing waste pumped back into the ground:
As fracking—pumping a briny solution of water, lubricants, anti-bacterial agents, and a cocktail of other chemicals into underground shale formations at high pressure to fracture the rock and extract trapped natural gas—has expanded in the Midwest, so has the need for disposing of used fracking fluid. That fracking waste can be recycled or processed at wastewater treatment facilities, much like sewage. But most of the waste—630 billion gallons, each year—goes back into the ground, pumped into disposal wells, which are then capped and sealed. A bunch of it ends up underneath Portage County.
Nestled in the northeast corner of Ohio, about halfway between Cleveland and Youngstown, this 500-square-mile county pumped 2,358,371 million barrels—almost 75 million gallons—of fracking brine into 15 wells last year, driving enough liquid into the ground to fill a train of tanker cars that would stretch 37 miles. Most of the waste came from out of state.
Stackpole talked to county commissioner Maureen Frederick, who lives less than a mile from a disposal site: "I abhor having the distinction of being the injection well capital of Ohio," she said. His story links out to the related articles from the Akron Beacon Journal, Youngstown Vindicator, and the Record-Courier among others, and is definitely worth your time to read.