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Council hears opponents of wastewater well
March 12, 2015 Jerry Purvis   

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At the end of a long meeting of the Gering City Council, members heard from opponents of an application to dispose of fracking wastewater at a well in southern Sioux County.

Sioux County Commissioners have already voted to oppose the project and Scotts Bluff County Commissioners voted to support them.
While the council declined to get involved, Gering Director of Public Works Pat Heath said in a prepared statement there’s no proof that injecting fracking water into the abandoned dry well north of Mitchell would have any impact on Gering’s water system. The statement also said Heath couldn’t say whether the well would impact the Ogallala aquifer.

Speaking in opposition was former Gering council member Alice Wineman. She said they need to protect Nebraska’s water supply coming from the Ogallala aquifer. Wastewater containing high concentrations of salt and other chemicals, including benzene, could potentially become a disaster.

“There is much history of these types of wells failing and contaminating water supplies in both cities and rural areas,” Wineman said. “I think the council should do everything possible to protect our water.”

Wineman said the Colorado based company filing the application is T Rex Corporation, originally organized as Ranchers Oil. The company has filed for bankruptcy twice and has been sued three times in the past five years.

The corporation plans to transport 80 truckloads of water a day, 24 hours a day, seven days a week to the well site.
Bess Carnahan, who lives “in the suburbs of Stegall,” also spoke. She said the application is so open ended, it restricts virtually nothing the company wants to do.

“The company has morphed into another company so many times, we’re not sure who we’re dealing with,” she said. “In the application, there’s no limit on the amount of wastewater, no time limit and no limit on the number of wells they can use.”

She added that Nebraska is outdated on statutes regulating disposal of fracking wastewater. Most surrounding states have put moratoria on pouring fracking fluid into injection wells.
Carnahan said she was also scared by a report from the head of the Nebraska Oil and Gas Commission that said “the water that would be pumped into a geological layer that can hold billions of barrels of water, covering hundreds of thousands of square miles.”

Scottsbluff resident Ken Mabery also spoke on his own behalf. He said approving the well would also impact tourism in the area as hundreds of trucks a day will travel through the area, affecting public safety for the tourism trade.

Mabery also pointed out that hundreds of trucks a day would have a negative impact on area highway infrastructure.
A public hearing addressing the application will be held on March 24, at 10 a.m. at the Oil and Gas Commission office located at 922 Illinois Street in Sidney.
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