Sunday, May 26, 2013

Heritage Park Wells are Hooked-Up to Witt Farm - Flare Now Larger

Yesterday morning, the central processing facility on Witt Farm, which is currently setup to receive 4 wells, was temporarily of grid.

4 broiler/separator chimneys - and

4 tanks are indicating that 4 wells are currently exploited on Witt Farm

The flare did not burn for a few hours while the temporarily plugged wells in Heritage Park and the pipeline were primed for production.

The hidden flare in the open barrel chimney was not visible yesterday morning

However, by about 6:00 pm the flare was back and seemed to produce more heat and soot than before. This is only the visible consequences of the now increased production of oil AND gas and volatiles that contain several poisonous and cancerous chemicals - beyond bad smell that will impair the health of many residents in at least a mile radius around the flare - depending on the wind direction and wind speed.

By 6:00 pm, the flare was back and seemed much larger. See the hot air swirling around on to of the chimney and the darkening indicating more soot.

 More is soon to come when the drilling operation on the neighboring landscaping business will hit oil.

Meanwhile the drill site at Heritage Park is now abandoned of workers and equipment and looks almost peaceful if you forget that the black gold is now flowing 4 feet underneath the ground, and the drilling mud was buried under ground in a sandwich of plastic tarps.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Pipeline connected - Heritage Park drill site is being prepared to deliver to Witt Farm

Brine trucks are at the Heritage Park drill site all day. They seem to prepare the delivery of the 3 wells connected to the bore hole to deliver oil and - unfortunately also poisonous and cancerous flare gases and volatiles to Witt Farm.

At the disc golf area everything is now underground - as if not really there...

There is also a lot going on at Witt Farm to prepare for the receipt of the new wells - eventually also from the new drill site on Stratton's Landscaping. The number of separators will tell us how many wells will be processed soon - more oil coming in - and more truck traffic - and the flare will get much bigger - their poisonous gases and volatiles will get much more concentrated...

Response to the DT article: Health Department leaving oil regulation toDEQ

While I appreciate any news keeping the public aware of this topic, this article contained factual and implied misinformation that I will address with this response. A copy of this blog post will go to Patricia Bourgeois, Lenawee county health officer, Lou Schineman and Kristy Shimko, Michigan DEQ, and the Adrian city commissioners with the request to comment.

1. I do not think that the county's (or the city's) responsibility ends because a higher entity is watching upon us. If these authorities are not protecting our health and the integrity of air and water as essential resources adequately, then the county's health department(, and the city) are obliged to step in! I will provide good arguments that exactly that is needed.

2. The DEQ is NOT monitoring surface water, ground water or air quality near drilling or processing facilities. There are no baseline tests nor any follow-up tests done that could show changes through the activities of that industry. The burden of proof is once more on citizens to arrange for such tests and to do so - restricting them to only certain certified and very expensive test labs - and requiring commercial lab staff to take the samples - thus even raising costs further - which in the end leads to not many citizens being able to test their - our vital resources.

3. Most site visits and checkups (which do NOT include actual sampling!) are done by the oil and gas companies themselves. The DEQ is understaffed and instead of raising permit fees to have enough money to adequately monitor the activities of oil and gas drilling and processing, it is simply assumed that the oil and gas companies are honest and doing a good objective job in self-monitoring themselves. This is more than wishful thinking as corporations are by law required to maximize shareholder profit even at the cost of externalizing (environmental) costs - meaning having somebody else (often the government) pay the bill.

4. Lou Schineman, district manager of the DEQ’s Office of Oil, Gas and Minerals - or the staff writer Dennis Pelham, or an anonymous editor is wrong (does not know better or is misleading) when they state: "The gas being burned is basically the same as what is piped into businesses and homes and burned in furnaces, stoves, clothes dryers and water heaters". Several publications analyzing flare gases and volatiles found high concentration of toxic and cancerous BTEXs (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes) and other compounds in flare gases. They partially originate from the oil and gas deposits themselves and come up in the extraction process, or are in drilling aid chemicals or site treatment chemicals. I am more than happy to produce a full list of publications and chemicals upon request. Most of these dangerous chemicals are NOT in the natural gas that we use in our houses - the gas companies are required to take these dangerous chemicals out before delivering the natural gas to the customers.

5. Kristy Shimko - or the staff writer Dennis Pelham, or an anonymous editor are wrong when they say that "the flares are burning methane and nitrogen". Methane yes (about 65% of the flammable composition), but nitrogen does not burn and is as such not flared off. While it is great that the DEQ monitors for hydrogen sulfide, that should not be the only thing they do (see above)!

6. Why is the industry permitted to flare off and WASTE a potential energy resource while POLLUTING the air for SO LONG (more than 6 months)? They should NOT be able to acquire permits to start drilling before they have the infrastructure to collect and market the gases in place!

7. If flares are located on the country-side with maybe one farmhouse close to the flare (I am idealizing here - in the Irish Hills it is often many houses, and unfortunately not only owned by the profiteer of the royalties), it is an entirely different situation within the city of Adrian with quite a few residences around the flare on Witt Farm.

8. In addition to the danger to air and water by the drilling operations and the processing facilities (tank farms), the highest chances of oil and gas spills occur during loading and unloading (e.g. into trucks) as well as during transportation (by pipelines and trucks). Both areas are to my knowledge not regulated by the DEQ - and therefore the county health department cannot depend on the DEQ to safeguard health in these error-prone sectors of the oil and gas business. Looking on the shortcomings of DOT regulations for pipelines (remember the 2010 pipeline accident near Kalamazoo, Michigan?) and trucks (several accidents involving oil trucks every year) - the nearly operational pipeline from Heritage Park (and soon other surrounding drill sites) to the Witt Farm cutting through the River Raisin floodplain, and the increased truck traffic that the central facility on Witt Farm will bring to the city once more wells are connected, the county health department (and the City of Adrian) obviously have to get and stay involved to safeguard the health of our citizens!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Heritage Park Pipeline Almost Done

Horizontal drilling down the floodplain and crossing Beaver Creek from the farmland West of Howell Highway.

The following pictures from the Michigan Mears Group Inc. illustrate how they drilled down in an angle and repositioned the flexible drill to come out almost at the target site in Heritage Park, marked with the red plastic fences.

Then they widen the bore hole and pull the welded pipes in.

Good thing in a lot of bad things: they did not need to bulldoze the woods to clear a passage from the disc golf area to the creek.

After yesterday's events, the road is blocked off slightly more professional, the work area, however, was not marked at all - until the actual exit point of the drills. We stayed far away on the driveway to the model plane club. I used my zoom to get a shot of the red fenced-in structure. All but 2 tubes were gone - must have been pulled into the bore hole one by one - this means the pipeline is probably functional by the end of the week.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Drilling of Pipeline under Beaver Creek Continues - New Drilling Site on Property of Stratton's Landscaping

After postponing the operations due to a soccer tournament (how nice of Savoy!), they continued to work on the pipeline today - and they started drilling for oil on the property of Stratton's Landscaping - as previously suspected by Victoria.

Large Drilling Derrick on Stratton's. Location of Site on Map Below.

 Today's investigational journalism got us a home visit of the state police. Savoy had the driveway down to the disc golf area blocked off. However, nobody stopped us from walking down there.

I approached the new construction site at the end of the buried pipes down at the disc golf area - and was approached by a nice young man from the construction company to whom I talked before. He told me that I should not approach the construction site any closer, which I respected. The reasons given were liability issues. I took some more pictures, Amy and I talked a little more with the guy, who threw sticks for our dog. On our way back to the car, I was approached by a gray-haired - casually dressed guy, who I have seen around the Heritage drilling site before. (Edit: Jack Rokos is Savoy's Operations Manager). He told me he was from the oil company and ordered me quite aggressively to stay away from "his" construction site and I assured him that we will do so - and that we obeyed before and did not approach the site closer than about 100-200 yards. By the way, there were also disc golfers down there that were not approached by the oil and construction staff - and were not any further away...I wonder why we get a special treatment???  

I tried to get some more information about the final drilling process to connect the pipelines and after confirming that drilling was done vertically and horizontally from up off Howell Highway and would reach exactly to the end of the buried pipes at the disc golf area, and that no clearing of the woods towards Beaver Creek would be necessary, he changed his mind and would not give out any other useful information. We assured him that we would stay away from the actual construction site and started walking down a beautiful, lush green path, that was heading towards the drilling noise from the new drilling site on Stratton's. The path did not really get us closer to make any pictures from public land and ended soon at a pretty deteriorated fence to private property, which we - as it is our principle - did not enter. During this walk in the woods we heart 2 bangs that sounded like small gas explosions (between 2 and 2:15 pm). In the favor of believing in the good of people, I was thinking that that's why we were asked to stay at a safe distance...

 We went back to the car to see that now 3 cars were blocking the driveway down to the disc golf and model plane area. We drove away and wanted to see if we could get a better shot of the drilling rig on Stratton's from the Skating compound, when we realized that one of the three cars was following us. We did a loop around the old farm building on Heritage and went behind the truck that probably was send to follow us? 

  We went across the street to the skating ring and I took a few pictures of the rig (see above), when we realized a state police car pulling into Heritage Park - sure enough - we soon had two friendly officers in our apartment hallway at home - that wanted to follow up with us what was going on - while assuring us that no complaints were filed. They stated that Savoy leased the City Parks and would therefore have the right to limit - or completely forbid access to a public park during its operations - or for a prolonged time. They also warned us that our friendly dog could get into trouble when approaching workers - which was surely not a problem with today's worker, who threw Faith's stick for her.

All-in-all I do not know what I should make out of this day's occurrences. I do certainly not believe that a lessee of mineral rights is authorized to shut down a public park - not even forbid access to areas beyond the immediate work area. As I stated before, I do not trespass on private property, especially if it is clearly marked as such - and I respected the "orders" of the worker and the oil company guy to stay at a save distance from the construction site, without the site being properly marked as such, or a clear statement in any ordinance stating to stay lets say 200 yards away from oil and gas operations...
I cannot shake the feeling off that Savoy - and a few beneficiaries of the oil boom in our city - are getting irritated and start to harass me and the investigational journalism that I try to develop. It began with the city police being called in when I showed a team of the Toledo Blade around. Again, we stayed off of clearly marked or obvious private properties - and no closeup pictures of persons were taken - beside mine, which I was OK with. I actually just received a harassing phone call of somebody, who obviously profits from the oil hysteria in Adrian - and did not like the pretty mallow article in the Toledo Blade...

If my humble careful writing and pictures are causing such inappropriate response - then there is maybe a reason why people get nervous - there is maybe really something they want to hide - and not bring to public notice?
Luckily, what I am doing is not depending on me alone and there are more people involved in this matter than can be easily threatened and silenced!

Location of the new drilling operation. I hope the pipeline from that well will not also cross Beaver Creek to reach Witt Farm

Current wells around Witt Farm - check them out on your own at:

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Pipeline from Heritage Park to Witt Farm still on Halt

Just a brief update. The pipeline is under ground - the only piece still missing is a short clearcut from the disc golf area to Beaver Creek, passing very close to a county drain, going under the bed of Beaver Creek, climbing up the flood plain bluff, and connect to the pipes waiting on the farmland West of Howell Highway. I don't know what they waiting for? It is already 3-5 days...Maybe permits or scheduling of another 3rd party crew??

Ohio: Network for Oil & Gas Accountability and Protection

NEOGAP is organized to educate, empower, and advocate for the citizens of Ohio who are facing threats to health, safety, and property rights posed by oil and gas development.

Michigan - Lenawee County - Adrian Wells

This map is now a little older but still good:
Well Locations of Savoy Oil in Michigan

Air Testing near Drilling Operations

Responding to Community Concerns Surrounding Hydraulic Fracturing Activities Near a School

ALLARM’s Shale Gas Monitoring Toolkit

Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Near Oil & Natural Gas Operations

Tracking Oil and Gas Wells

Resources and Links (Shared by Pam Taylor)
To track the wells:
To see the wells in Lenawee County, use the MIDEQ map below. This map is updated monthly.  First, use this map to find the well number. You might want to magnify the map to 200% or so, using the control at the top to make it easier to see the numbers and to read the key. The key on the right explains everything. This map is updated monthly, and it’s a pretty quick way to see the most current status. Class II brine disposal injection wells have a blue triangle around their circle. (These are the ones that may be associated with earthquakes, according to a recent USGS Report.) You don't necessarily need to have "fracked" wells (although some would say that all wells are "fracked" to some extent) in order to use injection to dispose of the waste fluids. Often Class II brine disposal wells are located at tank farms.

Once you know the number, you can look up more data here. (You might have to adjust your Java settings; this might work easier with Google Chrome than Internet Explorer, if you have a choice of browsers.)

Click on "Well Data Search", then "Well Information", then all you have to do is type in the well number that you took from your map. If nothing comes up when you type in a number, it probably means that the driller has requested confidentiality and that it won't be listed until the confidentiality period has expired. You can still see the location of the wells on the map (above link), which is the reason for the suggestion to use the map first. This database isn't as current.

Current Class II brine disposal injection wells are on Knight Hwy. in Adrian Township and along U. S. 223 in Palmyra Twp.; a new one just was permitted on Shepherd Rd. also in Adrian Twp. These are the type of wells that, according to the USGS, have not been ruled out as contributory factors in earthquakes in Ohio and the Midwest.  Waste, including fracking fluid and/or flowback, from the drilling process, and from processing the extracted oil, is pressure-injected deep into the earth.  These wells are:

  • Savoy Energy, McMunn Farms, Palmyra Township, No. 60531 (This well is between U. S. 223 and Carleton Rd., just south of where Humphrey Hwy. dead ends on U. S. 223.)

  • Savoy Energy, 60152, Ruesink, Adrian Township, No. 60152 (This well is on Knight Hwy., between Emery and Moore Rds.)

  • The third well is EPA permit request MI-091-2D-0003, Goetz property off of Shepherd Rd., Adrian Twp., dated June 27, 2012.  Well No. unknown at this point.  This injection well is in the oil field off Shepherd Rd. (just look for the 24/7 flare), about three miles north of Adrian.

To get information about Class II underground injection wells planned:

EPA well permit public notice and comment period information:

EPA contact number to get on the Class II injection well notification list so you can request a public hearing (they won't hold a public hearing unless a member of the public requests one, and you won't know that an injection well is planned unless you're on the list): Call the Region 5 EPA Office at 800-621-8431, press "0" at the prompt, the operator will put you through to someone who will put you on the list. Public hearings are important for media attention, and to inform the public and politicians so they can make appropriate decisions, more than they are effective in getting these things stopped.

To find updated permits:

You can find the weekly permit applications/permits issued/dispositions for all wells (not just injection wells) at the link below. Not as quick as the first two links, but once you start checking them, it's pretty easy to keep up to date.,4561,7-135-3311_4111_4231-121842--,00.html

To see where fracked wells in the area are located:

Map of fracked wells in the vicinity (North Adams and Wheatland Twps. in Hillsdale County)

List of these fracked wells:

Putting it all together:

In some parts of Lenawee County, these wells are located in the same places where CAFOs impact the environment.  The overlap with the CAFO areas all starts with the county drain system and the waterways. If spills/leaks occur, this will first become apparent. Many of these wells run right on top of county drains (some of which are underground), and the pipelines are laid along the banks of ditches and streams.  For instance, the wells on Tipton Hwy. that are just across Hunt Rd. from the Adrian Township hall are on top of the Turner Drain.

Here is the Lenawee County Drain map. Click on the township, then magnify. Natural waterways, i.e., Wolf Creek, the River Raisin, Lake Adrian, do not appear on this map unless they are part of the maintained drain system, so you will have to overlay these with watershed maps to see the big picture.
Leases extend all the way to the state line, running on a southeast diagonal from Napoleon in Jackson County through Riga Township at the opposite corner of the County.

Resources for help in water monitoring/testing programs, and help setting up a group:

Sierra Club Michigan Chapter

It is up to the states to regulate and monitor these wastes.  This page also has an excellent link about testing near sites,  Click on “How We Test Water Around Fracking Sites”

Environmentally Concerned Citizens of Southeast Michigan (ECCSCM) – similar issue; different content

CAFO = Confined Animal Feeding Operation.  Permits administered by the MIDEQ, under the U. S. EPA and the Clean Water Act.  All CAFOs, and all operations that have had a discharge to the waters of the state that caused those waters to not meet water quality standards, must have an NPDES permit to discharge, along with a CNMP (comprehensive nutrient management plan.

Manure scale:  1 cow = 20 people.  We have around 20,000 cows located in this area.  That’s equivalent to the untreated waste of 400,000 people.  For instance, a single, local, CAFO with a permit allowance of 2,500 cows would produce manure equivalent to the waste of about 50,000 people.  As of 2010, Lenawee County had about 99,000 people.

Oil & Gas Pre-Drill Water Well Testing

Corrections of the Recent Article in the Toledo Blade

As much I appreciate the Blade reporting about the activities of the oil and gas industry in Adrian in their recent article: , several parts of the article were incorrect, misleading or my statements were not properly presented:
1. The structure on the well in Heritage Park is NOT a drilling rig like the one a worker was injured on but a approx. 30 ft. high pressure cap.
2. I stressed to the journalist what a gamble is played with environmental integrity when putting 5 pipes over about a mile 4 ft. underground to pump crude oil from wells in the park to the central processing facility crossing the flood plain of River Raisin, going underneath Beaver Creek and climbing 80 ft up the floodplain bluff to the tank farm. Unfortunately, this did not find its way into the article.
3. My concerns about the air quality around the central processing facility on Witt Farm follow the fact that poisonous and cancer-causing gases and vapors of currently 2 wells are flared off inside of a chimney on Witt Farm - and as soon the pipeline is connected - two more wells from Heritage Park will be flared.
4. In addition, I spoke of Heritage Park not being my sanctuary but a sanctuary for animals, plants, landscapes and ecosystems that are rare or even absent in most of Lenawee County, Michigan today - and especially absent close to the City of Adrian.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Concerns City Of Adrian & Adrian Township Residents Should Have About Oil and Gas Production Facilities In Your Area!

1.     What is going to be the processing capacity of the plant?
2.      What are they processing (crude, natural gas?) and into what?
3.      How do they plan to provide secondary containment for the facility? (Earthen (Clay)? with High density polyethlyene (HDPE) liners, geotextile liners?, concrete?)
4.      How are they going to dispose of produced water and other wastes?
5.      How are they going to recycle used oil?
6.      What type of air permit will be required? Will it be title V (title V means it pollutes a lot)
7.      What is going to be the storage capacity for oil at the facility?
8.      Who is doing the NEPA study on the environmental impacts from the plant and the pipeline and gathering pipelines associated?
9.      Another concern is what is the potential for increased 18 wheeler traffic in the area and
the safety involved with that?
10.  What are the potential chemicals they will be using at the facility?
11. How equipped is the LEPC in the area (Local Emergency Planning Committee) to respond to an emergency?
12. And who will take on the cost of upgrading fire and hazmat services the community will need from this facility?
13. How much Noise, Vibration and Odor will this facility produce and what will this do to our property values?
14.  What is the potential life span of this facility? 25 to 30 years?
15. How will the City of Adrian spend the proceeds from this operation and will they post the revenue on the city web site with transparency?

Handout shared at the 4/1/2013 city commission assembly by an anonymous citizen with great knowledge of the industry.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Pipeline Now Also Buried on the Floodplain

Unfortunately, I was wrong - seems to be no problem to submerge the pipes totally under water. Note the dark, almost black swamp muck indicating that the soil is soaked with water for a substantial part of the year.

 Now only the 10 pipes to go through the woods, under Beaver Creek and up the bluff are lined up next to the newly buried pipes.

 Here is the end of the buried pipes. You can see the 2 stakes shown later that indicate the direction of the connecting piece.
 And the PE pipe to bring the flare gases and vapors to Witt Farm.
 I hope they will not do too bad of a clearcut to put the pipes through the woods - and I am really curious how they will put the pipes under the creek.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Pipeline Connected to Well Head in Heritage Park, Pipes all Under Ground Until Floodplain

The pipeline is now connected to the well head.

And all buried 4 feet under ground.

The pipes lying ready to be buried down at the floodplain are now also welded to the pipes coming down from the wells. Ground water level is still very high. Do they need to wait until the ground water retreats to bury the pipeline into the flood plain?

The long diagonal until the forest line shows a stack of 15 pipes. The 10 lower level pipes are most probable the ones to continue through the woods to Beaver Creek, and go under the creek bed - maybe even up the bluff to connect to the end of the buried pipes on the uplevel fields.

 This picture reveals the purpose of the black PE pipe. This is a gas pipe to transport the flare gases and vapors to the Witt Farm flare that will at least double by this. A shame that Savoy still does not collect, store and market these gases - but instead burns them off producing poisonous and cancerous gases and vapors.