More About Brine Disposal Wells

I guess I should explain “brine” – as simply as possible, because it seems to have multiple definitions.  During the drilling of ANY hole, water with additives is used for lubrication.  Simple brine might just be salt and water.  The stuff that comes back out of the drilled hole will most likely have petroleum products like oil, mixed with it.  This is the “brine” that gets used for dust control on roads, and isn’t supposed to be toxic.  I’m not certain where the line gets drawn between “brine” and “flowback” from fracking – fracking involves a LOT of extra proprietary chemicals like acids, that make the flowback toxic or possibly carcinogenic.  I have to believe a company based in Traverse that wants to haul their waste all the way to Barry County, is dealing with fracking flowback?  Simple brine can be spread on roads.  It’s not good for the environment, but in most townships, it’s still legal.

I copied the following from a Kalamazoo Gazette article by Julie Mack that came out May 4, 2015, shortly after the earthquake near Climax that rocked most of central and southern Michigan.  Several scientists say that the earthquake was NOT caused by brine disposal wells (and it makes sense):

[from the article]
“Like Barnes, Fitch said the depth of Saturday’s quake — 5.9 kilometers below the Earth’s surface — is “key” to ruling out the possibility that the quake was induced by human activity.

Barnes said there’s “no question” that seismic activity has been triggered elsewhere in the country by injecting wastewater at high pressure deep in the Earth near a fault line. (emphasis mine)

“You inject the fluid in a fault, it gets slippery,” making it easier for movement to occur, he said.

But that’s not what happened here, he said.

However, Barnes said there is a connection the Climax oil fields and the quake: The same fault that caused the quake also contributed to the formation of oil. (emphasis mine)

“The reason people drill there is because of formation of the fault, which is the kind of place where you find oil,” Barnes said. “But that doesn’t mean the drilling caused the earthquake.”

[end article]

So taking this logic one step further: brine injection wells tend to be located close to the drilling sites, to save money hauling wastewater around.  That’s an economical no-brainer.  But if there will be more drilling along our earthquake-producing fault – there WILL be a need for brine disposal wells.  Right now, it appears there are 3 disposal wells between Bradley and Wayland; 8 near Pennfield in N Calhoun County; and there’s 2 notated in Johnstown Twp using the interactive Michigan GeoWebface website.  http://ww2.deq.state.mi.us/geowebface/

If the well drillers use a dry (non-productive) well for waste brine injection (again, an economical no-brainer) – then it gets downright scary.  There appears to be 139 +/- dry wells in Barry County; somewhere around 175 +/- just in the top tier of townships in Calhoun County; and there are so many in Allegan County that I didn’t even attempt to count them.  I’ll just be conservative and say “hundreds”.

Seismologists suspect the fault line runs from Coldwater to Kalamazoo, and possibly beyond.  “Beyond Kalamazoo” means Allegan County – the land of dry wells.  We really don’t need to be making a possible fault line slippery.  Folks in northern Oklahoma are celebrating because the number of earthquakes has dropped a bit: they only had 17 quakes of magnitude of 3.0 or higher in the 30-day period from Feb 2 to Mar 2, 2017.  Do we really want to risk that in our area??

 

 

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