County: Use of saltwater disposal well unlikely

BROOKVILLE — Friday, the Jefferson County Commissioners said Winslow Township supervisors and residents have recently expressed their concerns about a signed lease for a saltwater disposal well in the township.

The lease, signed between Ridgway resident Steven L. Mitchell and EOG Resources, Inc., would allow for the drilling of "Saltwater Disposal Wells (SWD), maintaining, repairing and operating such SWD and all related facilities including meters, separators and pipelines to and from the SWD."

Jefferson County Commissioner Jeff Pisarcik said because the commissioners received several phone calls from concerned township residents, they decided to look into the matter.

Jefferson County Planning Director Kristin Hullihen, said EOG Resources Inc., wanted to have the lease in place as a "last resort."

"Right now, they recycle 100 percent of their frack water," Hullihen said. "They wanted to have (the lease signed) for possible future use. The chances they'll use that as a disposal well is about five percent, and that's far into the future. Right now, there are no plans on the table for that."

The 373-acre tract lies on the south bank of the Sandy Lick Creek Watershed near Pancoast Road in Winslow Township.

Clearfield County Resident Darlene Marshall, who has been following movement on disposal injection wells in the area, said she appreciates the concern of the Jefferson County Commissioners.

"I'm glad you're paying attention to it and you're on top of it, but be ready for other pieces of property to be leased quickly," Marshall said.

Pisarcik and Commission Chairman Paul Corbin agreed that they will continue to monitor the situation, but at the end of the day, they have little power over wells being drilled.

"We have no power to do anything, nor do the townships or municipalities," Pisarcik said. "We don't have the right to stop anybody or to let them drill anywhere. That's up to the drillers and the lease holders."

Marshall agreed, but said she's pleased the commissioners have done their job have made people aware of the situation.

"We have indicated to the residents and the supervisors that we will keep an eye on this, and if anything comes across our desk, we'll be sure to let them know and do anything we possibly can from our end here," Corbin said.

Also, the commissioners:
• Adopted Ordinance No. 2012-1, imposing a fee on unconventional gas wells in Jefferson County, pursuant to the act of Feb. 13, 2012, adopted by the Pennsylvania Legislature.

The ordinance gives the authority to municipalities and townships in the county to pass a resolution which would allow county municipalities and townships to receive impact money.

An “unconventional gas well” is one that is drilled into a geologic formation that requires fracking, multilateral well bores, or other techniques to produce gas at economic rates or volumes. The impact fee is based on several factors, including when physical drilling begins, the year of the well and the average price of natural gas.

Although the commissioners passed the ordinance Feb. 14, this was the formal enactment.

• Adopted Resolution No. 2012-2 abolishing the office of Jury Commissioner effective at the completion of the current Jury Commissioners' terms of office.

Corbin said the decision was made to help save money for the taxpayers of Jefferson County.

Commissioner Jim McIntyre said a savings of $15,000 is projected for the first year.

• Approved to execute and submit a 901 Municipal Waste Planning Grant in the amount of $36,020 to the Department of Environmental Protection for updating the current Municipal Waste Management Plan.

According to Solid Waste/Recycling Coordinator Donna Cooper, this plan must be revised every 10 years, and the authority's current plan expires at the end of 2013.

Cooper said the plan requires the authority to look into maximum feasible development of waste reduction and recycling programs and to provide for the protection of public health, safety and welfare with anything that has to do with waste management issues.

The authority has to provide a 20-percent match for the grant, around $7,200.

• Approved the following two projects as recommended by the Jefferson County Hotel Tax Committee: A $5,000 signage project for the Jefferson County History Center and $1,390 in advertisements for Go Magazine.

• Entered into an agreement with Zelenkofske Axelrod, LLC to prepare the county's Single Audit for the year ending Dec. 31, 2011, in an amount not to exceed $46,945, as well as preparing the 911 audit for the year ending Dec. 31, 2011 in the amount of $3,175.

In other business:
• All county offices will be closed Friday in observance of Good Friday.

• The next county commission meeting will take place at 10:30 a.m., Wednesday, April 11.