Partnerships and planning key to successful drilling operations

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Editor:

At the Columbiana County General Health District we have been involved with aspects of oil/gas drilling operations for several years now. We do a great deal of research and forecasting to develop planning and initiatives for that response.

Some of this initial research involved finding similarities between oil/gas drilling occurring throughout the country, and how it may correspond to Ohio’s oil/gas drilling.

Arkansas is one state in particular that mirrors the activity we are experiencing here and they are about a year ahead of us. At a conference in November in Washington a speaker from the National Geological Survey discussed earthquakes.

The topic of seismic activity in the northeastern Ohio region was brought up, and led to discussion of the Arkansas 4.7 earthquake last year that was also thought to be the result of injection wells. Ironic that not more than a two months later we would experience our own 4.0 earthquake.

Arkansas has experienced much of what we are now seeing, and they have become proactive in their information sites relating to natural gas drilling. One in specific is the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission website at www.aogc.state.ar.us, Readers will find a wealth of open source information relating to natural gas pipelines, drilling, gas revenue, regulations, meetings and legislative activities.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette lists many of the recent articles on oil/gas drilling. The information itself serves as a baseline to develop our own resources and guidelines. Differences do exist but nonetheless we have found sources of reliable information are being developed that we can tap into.

Carrizo Springs in south Texas is another area that has expanded their oil/gas production and may be used as a template to better understand the process and resources for emergency response planning already in place.

Creating new and viable energy sources is a commitment we can all appreciate and benefit from if it is done in a safe and environmentally conscious way.

Locally we are committed to working with our private sector partners, along with state and federal agencies in maintaining all avenues of preparedness and information sharing that may benefit our communities.

One of the many ways the Columbiana County General Health District has benefited from these partnerships is to protect drinking water through lab testing and analysis of private well sites. As we work to develop information that is related to oil/gas safety we will post it on the county health department website as well.

If indeed this is a 100-year venture then we are merely at the footstep of the future and as such must plan well into the next five to 10 years. Forecasting may not always be correct but it will keep us moving forward in our effort to plan and protect for the health, infrastructure and safety of all.

Anyone interested in the water sampling program should contact the Columbiana County General Health District at 330-424-0272, ext.111.

Bob Zehentbauer

Director Bioterrorism/ Public Health/ Infrastructure

Columbiana County General Health District

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