PAMELA GILBERT: Is there a plan B for Michigan’s ground water?

The United States Environmental Protection Agency shared their plans (October 2015) to allow WB Osborn Oil & Gas Operations of San Antonio, Texas to inject fluid underground in Fork Township by approving the company’s application for what the EPA calls a Class II injection well permit. A summary of the letter will be mailed to the residents of Fork Township, Friday and the original letter will be posted on the front window of the township hall. Michigan residents have only until Nov. 9 to voice appeals.

Class II injection wells are used to dispose of wastewater (brine), usually having a high salt content. (The analysis of oil field brine from a Section 17 well in 2013 contained the highly toxic BTEX chemicals Benzene, Ethybenzene, Toluene, and Xylene, and 190,000 mg/L Chloride). Unknown drilling chemicals, which do not need to be identified, plus heavy metals and radioactive materials are also stored in Class II injection wells.

With the EPA announcement, how will Fork Township and any county resident know when leakage occurs? Who is monitoring the impact of the 1000 injection wells throughout Michigan? How will citizens know what is in the chemical mix which can be disposed of in the Fork injection well since horizontal hydraulically fracked “brine” can be forced at high pressure in Class II wells? How toxic will this mixture be and how will it affect the ground water? Citizens need to be aware of the issues so they know what questions to ask.

In January 2015, the World Economic Forum announced the No. 1 global risk based on impact to society is the water crisis. Michigan holds 20 percent of the fresh water of the entire world. Why would anyone in Michigan ever agree to this potential pollution of our state and township’s most valued resource? Water is the Life Blood of the Planet. No life can survive without it. 60 percent of U.S. Lakes are already too polluted for fishing. According to one estimate, by 2030 our planet’s need for water will outstrip its reliable supply by 40 percent.

A majority of the population of Mecosta County is dependent upon their ground water. Water towers and filtration plants are not available to most residents. Affordability of whole house water systems is not feasible for many and not large enough to sustain our agricultural demands. What about our wildlife? How do they manage to sustain themselves without safe drinking water?

Currently I am unaware of a Plan B for this EPA ruling, other than requesting an appeal of the drilling of this Class II deep injection disposal well. Written comments to the EPA may do this. The comment period ends November 9, 2015. I have rented the Fork Township Hall in Barryton and will be available to provide information and answer questions to the best of my ability on Thursday, Oct. 29 from 3 to 7 p.m. My email address is

Pamela J. Gilbert

Fork Township Trustee



Posted by Adam Gac

Adam is the Pioneer City/County Reporter, covering government in Mecosta County. He can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at (231) 592-8347.

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