February 2019

Bryan Times 2-9-2019

Michindoh: AOP well site gets preliminary approval

report by Ron Osburn

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has preliminarily approved a proposed production water well near Fayette for Artesian of Pioneer.

The preliminary approval was noted in an EPA letter dated Feb. 6 to Ed Kidston, president and CEO of AOP, and references a Dec. 21 visit to the well site by Kidston; Ohio EPA staffers Taylor Browning, Craig Smith and Chad Zajkowski; Ohio Department of Natural Resources staffer Jim Raab, Todd Feenstra, president and owner of Tritium, Inc., an Elkhart, Indiana-based Environmental Services company; and Tom Borck, vice president of Poggemeyer Design Group, in Toledo.

The letter said the well site is located at 24668 County Road S, northwest of Fayette.

The EPA said the purpose of the letter “is to solicit public comments on the (draft) well site approval.”  It says a public information session will be held at 6:00 pm on Tuesday, March 12, at Fayette Local School, located at 400 E. Gamble Road, in Fayette.

In addition, the EPA will accept written comments at the public information session, or they can be mailed to: Ohio EPA, Division of Drinking and Ground Waters, Attn: Craig Smith, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, OH 43216-1049.  All comments received on or before 5 pm on Friday, March 15, 2019, will be considered.

The letter said “the proposed well site complies with the requirements of Ohio EPA in accordance with Ohio Administrative Code Chapter 3745-9, and the proposed well site is hereby accepted,” subject to AOP meeting a number of technical, planning, property lease/ownership and environmental conditions enumerated in the letter.

The letter is available at: http://edocpub.epa.ohio.gov/publicportal/View-Document.aspx?docid=992721

(Reader alert:  That page was not available when I tried to access it Feb. 10, 2019)

The letter does note, “This site approval shall become void two years from the date of this letter unless a formal plan approval has been issued.”

Dina Pierce, EPA spokesperson, termed the draft well site approval as “one very early step in a long (approval) process.”

Kidston did not respond to a call Thursday seeking comment.

(Reader alert:  I have intentionally omitted several paragraphs of background information covered in this article.)

Sherry Fleming, of the Williams County Alliance, a grass-roots citizens group that has helped coordinate opposition to AOP’s plan, said the group is exploring ways to make changes to current water use law.

“(EPA’S draft approval) proves that our laws need changed.  The EPA is just following the legal process.  We’re more disappointed that our state legislators are not offering any concrete steps or addressing this issue in any (meaningful) way,” Fleming said Friday.

Pierce said Thursday the EPA doesn’t generally hold public hearings on well site requests, but scheduled one in this instance because of the high public interest in the proposed project.  She also said the controversial nature of the project and the need to set a public hearing were reasons for the length of time between the site visit and the report.