by Jeremy Nobile | Reporter

Stow -- A group of Stow citizens concerned with the operation of a gas well at the Church of New Hope would like to see the well shut down due to concerns with its safety and legality, but the driller asserts all work surrounding the well has been done both safely and legally.

Stow residents Alice Marusiak and Elyse Hirsch are leading a group of citizens would like to see activity at the well -- located in a residential area in the 4000 block of Darrow Road -- come to a halt because of concerns with how the well could impact everything from safety and the environment to property values.

"We're really concerned about these children going to daycare there [at the church] and the nearby medical center because there are so many hazards," said Marusiak. She said she's particularly fearful of the risk of explosion and fumes that might be released from the well, which is located in a residential area.

Marusiak, a former real estate agent with 24 years in the field, also said she believes property values for those near the well could be adversely affected.

"For the good of the people, the neighborhood, the property values, this needs to be stopped," she said. "If it were out in the country, it would be different. But this is smack in the middle of the neighborhood."

Citizens have also questioned whether the well has been fracked using a slurry of chemicals that are typically associated with a horizontal hydraulic-fracturing drilling process.

The driller of the well is Pursie E. Pipes Drilling Co.

PEP Landman Bill Marks told the Stow Sentry on Nov. 29 that all drilling at the well has been completed and no chemicals were ever used to the well's fracking process.

"Sand and water are the only things that fractured that well," he said.

"We're going to be turning it on and producing it in about a week or so," Marks added.

Marks said the well is surrounded with cement to prevent leaks during the production process.

"We even went the extra mile and did the [cement] bond log on the well and X-rayed to make sure our cement job was more than significant to make sure nothing can get contaminated," he said.

Marusiak and Hirsch have also called into question whether the well is and has been operated legally and with all the proper permits.

Marks said the church well was first vertically drilled in 2011 as the company attempted to pass through Clinton sandstone to release and collect natural gas.

The company discovered the well needed to be drilled deeper -- down about 4,000 feet in total -- to reach the gas. Because they had to drill farther, they also had to secure additional leases for mineral rights from property owners within a minimum 40-foot radius of the well.

After a Jan. 17, 2012, inspection by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Mineral Resources, inspectors determined the well would have needed to be shut down by the end of that month unless the proper leasing was acquired.

"When we discovered that [we had to drill deeper], we did the proper things to expand to a 40-acre site and complete our well," said Marks.

According to lease records filed with the Summit County Fiscal Office, PEP secured at least the minimum number of leases required. Marks said the company has acquired even more than the necessary amount of leases, just to be sure.

ODNR spokesperson Heidi Hetzel-Evans verified the well is operating with a current permit. According to ODNR records, the well's initial permit from 2009 was reissued on Dec. 30, 2010, and is a two-year permit.

According to the ODNR, PEP applied for an additional permit on Nov. 8.

Marks maintains PEP has always operated at the church with current permits and has displayed all required meters and signage during its work.


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