Updated Tue, Nov 13, 2012 3:29 pm
Ohio has begun issuing its first permits for deep injection of chemically-laced wastewater from oil and gas drilling since a New Year's Eve quake in Youngstown prompted an unofficial statewide moratorium on new wells.
The head of the state's Division of Oil and Gas Resources says the first four new permits will go out Tuesday to sites in Athens, Portage and Washington counties.
Heidi Hutzel-Evans, a spokeswoman with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, says one of the sites is in Athens and two are in Washington County.
In Athens County, the newly-permitted site in Troy Township will be a new well operated by K&H Partners and has an approved depth of 3,999 feet.
In Washington County, another new well can be drilled in Newport Township to the depth of 7,547 feet. The site will be operated by Ohio Oil Gathering Corporation.
Also in Newport Township, an existing, converted oil and gas well is permitted to operate as a Class 2 injection well. It will be operated by Green Hunter Water LLC at a depth of 7,452 feet.
Hutzel-Evans says the department feels confident new rules in place will address mechanical and seismic testing of the injection wells.
Rick Simmers said another 28 sites will be permitted in small batches in coming months.
He says state natural resources officials believe new regulations include ample safeguards to protect against future quakes.
Gov. John Kasich imposed a moratorium surrounding a Youngstown well after a series of a dozen quakes that included one of 4.0 magnitude were linked to activity there. Simmers said that facility remains idle.
Hutzel-Evans says the four permits were the oldest of the permits in queue after the unofficial moratorium was put in place.