The intersection of Route 331 and Route 40 is one of the busiest places in Belmont County.
Neighbors just learned that a New Jersey company, Omni Energy Group, has applied to the ODNR to place two injection wells there, for disposal of waste products from production wells.
The site is across the street from the Marathon station, where the former Wagon Wheel was located.
Chad Kocher of St. Clairsville said the plan is just now becoming known, and he said people are appalled that it would be placed in such a busy location.
“These wells have notoriously had inherent problems with them, from the noise and the air pollution that they create as they’re being drilled, to disruption to nearby families,” he noted. “It’s going to harm property values. Nothing positive will come of it, except for the guy who’s applying for the permit.”
Another neighbor said he and his wife love their home and always thought they would remain there for the rest of their lives, but injection wells would be a deal breaker.
“We might have to move,” said Phillip Kress. “We can’t put up with this. It will go 24 hours a day, with trucks coming and going, making it impossible for us to get in and out onto Route 40 safely.”
While many companies claim fracking injection fluid is harmless, neighbors say there are ongoing concerns that it contains hazardous and toxic components.
They say that highway interchange was recently upgraded in a $20 million state highway project aimed at making it safer for the many entities located there.
There are two colleges, a career center, the Belmont County Sheriff’s Department, the county jail, the Sargus Juvenile Center, the Belmont Correctional Institution, the county health department, Job and Family Services, 911 Center and more.
Neighbors plan to contact the ODNR to voice their objections, and they hope others will do the same.
According to a letter from the ODNR, anyone with concerns can contact them at (614) 265-6933.
Kocher also urges people to contact the chief of ODNR, Richard J. Simmers, at (614) 265-6922.
Meanwhile, the CEO of Omni Energy Group tells wtrf.com that the site has been vacant for ten years and he doesn’t understand the controversy.
“It’s zoned a commercial industrial area,” said Gerard Russomagno. “The ODNR is our regulatory authority and they’ll determine whether or not it’s compliant. We tried to purchase some of the homes around there, but the homeowners were demanding seven times the fair market value.”