Residents concerned over possible fracking in Barry County

Posted at 9:10 PM, Jul 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-15 21:10:53-04

HASTINGS, Mich. -- Some Barry County residents are worried about the possibility of hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, coming to their town. It comes after a group from Texas submitted  a permit to the Michigan DEQ to construct an oil well in Carlton Township.

The group Interstate Explorations out of Texas submitted a permit a few weeks ago to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. They now have 30 days to send it back with revisions. In the meantime, residents are rushing to learn more about it and what they can do to stop the permit from getting approved.

Concerned residents gathered for an informational session at the Hastings Public Library Saturday afternoon.

“I’m very concerned about the possibility of a frack well happening in Barry County, said Craig Brainard. "In fact the proposed location I saw is only about six miles from my home”

Brainard is from the Sierra Club and presented information about how the Boulter 1-17 permit could impact the community.

“I know there are a lot of people around Barry County that are concerned about fracking about it coming to Barry County and want to protect their citizens.”

Senior geologist, Eric Kimber,  with the Michigan DEQ reviewed the permit and then submitted it to his supervisor for possible approval.

“I did find some issues that they needed to provide additional information on or some revisions with their case submitting program, H2S plans, again there were several things that from my review we needed some more information on some things.”

Residents at the meeting  said their biggest concern is the water and what fracking might do to it.

Doris Hale, of Hastings, is one the residents having issues with the permit.

“My biggest concern is that water remains usable," said Hale.  "My biggest concern is the chemicals in the water and then by extension what would happen to property values.”

Along with issues surrounding contamination, some are worried it may lower the water table as well. . Kimber said the drilling won't affect either.

“It’s about 5,000 feet below ground which is about 4,500 feet below fresh water and so there really is not a realistic concern of any concerns for there to be a groundwater contamination with that they’re proposing to do here.”

Kimber added changes need to be made before the permit can be approved, but he couldn't speak specifically on the changes.

“If they follow through and make all the required changes and revisions that we need for it to be able to meet part 6-15’s rules then it would be approved.”

He said the permit has yo be sent back to Interstate Explorations within 30 days and residents should know more in a few weeks. Kimber said if it's approved, it's not certain that the group will decide to drill. Up to 20% of the permits he's seen in the last 5 years were never drilled. In the meantime, residents are doing everything they can to slow the process. Some are writing letters to local legislators and signing petitions to stop fracking.

There's no word of the DEQ holding any sessions for the public to attend.