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Oil Company Fracking Lawsuit Targets Ohio Town

March 24th, 2015

An Oklahoma-based oil and gas company filed a fracking lawsuit against the town of Barnesville, Ohio, over the town’s water supply. Gulfport Energy’s fracking lawsuit alleges that the town violated its contract with the company by promising the use of its water to a competitor, Antero Resources. The competition over the water needed for the fracking process, along with lower rainfall levels, may lead to a water shortage for local residents.

How Fracking Works

Fracking wells inject a mixture of water, sand, and other chemicals into subterranean layers of shale. The high-pressure fluid injection breaks up the shale and allows oil and gas drillers to access energy reserves that were unreachable by conventional methods. Fracking methods have become popular around the country, but they have also raised concerns about their environmental impact. Numerous cities across the country have enacted fracking bans due to complaints about noise, traffic and groundwater contamination.

Low Reservoir Levels Prompt Fracking Lawsuit

Last year, Gulfport purchased more than 180 million gallons of water from the city of Barnesville. The company drew the water from the Slope Creek Reservoir, which also serves as the town’s major water supply. When reservoir levels fell by three feet, the town ordered a temporary shutoff of Gulfport’s water supply. Gulfport’s fracking lawsuit alleges that, if Antero is allowed to access the reservoir for its water supply, the town can cut off Gulfport’s supply again if reservoir levels falls too quickly again.

Fracking Lawsuit Shows Limited Water Supply

The company’s fracking lawsuit highlights a problem with drilling in the area. According to local residents, safe water supplies are a rarity. Environmental activists point out that fracking waste water often can’t be treated for reuse. A local newspaper published a study showing that a single drilling well can have almost a million pounds of liquid chemical ingredients mixed in with its source water. The high levels of sand and toxic chemicals, plus radiation from the surrounding shale, make the waste water too difficult and dangerous to be returned to a usable state.

Water Vs. Money In Fracking Lawsuit

The lawsuit also alleges that the town’s contract with Antero allows it to withdraw even more water than Gulfport’s contract allows. According to documents filed with the fracking lawsuit, Gulfport paid the city more than $75,000 a year for its water. The area targeted by the Gulfport fracking lawsuit has some of the state’s most active oil and gas drilling projects. Officials in Belmont Country, where Barnesville is located, issued 63 horizontal drilling permits in 2013.

Source: Think Progress

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