This website researched and published an article by Bill Leutz on July 20th regarding the proposal to drill a brine injection well nearby. Bill Leutz, who spent his career as a chemical engineer and now lives at Clark Lake, sheds light on recent developments.
The article this summer concerned the EPA request for comments on a proposal to drill a well for the purpose of disposing of oil-field produced brine at a depth of approximately 3000 feet. The well would be at the approximate center of an area bounded in the north by Crego Road, the south by Riverside Drive, Peterson Road in the west, and McKinney Road in the east. This location would place it a distance of approximately 1½ miles east of the Clark Lake County Park. I have not yet heard if the EPA deemed there was enough interest to hold a public hearing on this subject.
Over the last two months I have written to Ana Miller of the EPA, Thomas Pangborn of Savoy Energy LP (the operator of the well) and representatives of the MDEQ seeking to have clarification on issues of underground rock layers, casing programs and drilling fluids. The purpose of these questions was to provide a clarification on the level of safeguards in place, during the drilling of this well, and its subsequent operation, to protect the surrounding fresh water supplies? To the MDEQ, I added the recommendation that the MDEQ should establish an annual monitoring program of nearby water wells. In the event of a problem with the brine well, such a monitoring program would allow a speedy shut-in of the well before any contamination appeared, long before it could reach the lake.
Neither the EPA nor Savoy Energy responded to my requests for information. However, Mr. Mark Snow of the MDEQ did respond with all the technical information I had requested. In answer to my recommendation for a water testing program he provided this response: “… there has not been a single instance of contamination of any drinking water wells or surface water bodies for any of the more than 14,000 wells permitted and drilled under our modern rules and requirements.” While I regard this as a satisfactory answer, I stand by my recommendation for monitoring. If Savoy and the MDEQ are not willing to institute such a program, perhaps nearby residents can. If a resident near the Savoy well site took annual water samples from their water well (before the water softener or filters), the sample could be sent to any lab for testing. A negative result could assure us there is no leakage. In the unlikely event that contamination was detected, remedial action, such as a speedy shut-in of the brine well, could be taken by the operator or authorities.
Should the EPA schedule a hearing or other developments occur, this website will report on it.