The Post - Athens

From November 2012 to November 2013, I worked as a beat report for Ohio University's student newspaper The Post. I mainly focused on Athens City Council and covered stories on local energy, transit, housing, and construction projects. 

After earthquake, city council sides with county on halting use of injection wells

Cassie Kelly | December 3, 2013

Athens City Council, like some local anti-fracking advocates, thinks the disposal of fracking waste could have led to the recent 3.5-magnitude earthquake that hit Athens County last month.

Council, in a resolution adopted Monday night, threw its support behind the Athens County Commissioners, who object to a recent proposal for a new injection well to be installed near Torch, Ohio.

Among other things, council argues that “until conclusive evidence indicates that the recent Athens (County) earthquake was not caused by underground injection waste,” the state should “halt the permitting of underground injection wells.”

The resolution also states that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources found alarming levels of toxins surrounding Ohio injection wells and the full extent of public health threats is unknown.

“We are aware that our power extends to city limits,” council President Jim Sands said. “However, we are supporting the actions of our County Commissioners and we hope their actions get approved.”

The threat of spills is worrisome for many residents, including Councilwoman Michele Papai, D-3rd Ward, who said large carrier trucks coming in and out of the county frighten many people.

“I hope that we, or any community, never has a spill because it’s difficult to clean up,” Papai said.

Also at council, members made a first step in finding a more permanent location for the Athens Farmers Market. They passed an ordinance for a grant that will help them fund their search for a site. The next step is to get funding for the site itself and to hash out financial concerns.

“We have to talk with the Farmers Market Board to make sure they are in the loop and willing to back us,” Mayor Paul Wiehl said.

An ordinance to amend the language in Athens City Code for persons with disabilities was also passed Monday. The ordinance will change the wording on city signage from “handicapped” to “person(s) with disabilities.”

“We are bringing the code into the 21st century and stripping away at the technical terms that are stigmatizing,” Councilman Steve Patterson, D-at large, said.

Read the original story in The Post, here.