Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Councilwoman Mary Cirelli (Canton) is, perhaps, Stark County's most caring public official.

Just take a look at her community service involvement bio taken from the Canton City Council member portion of Canton's website:

Mary Cirelli has been engaged in public office service since 1984 when she was elected Ward 3 council member where she remained until 1990.  In 1991, she became a Stark County commissioner and remained a commissioner until 1995.  From 1996 through 1999 Cirelli returned to Canton's council as an at-large member until 1999.  She moved on to the Ohio House of Representatives for the period 2001 - 2004 and then, after a brief period of time out of public office, she returned to her at-large city council position in 2006 where she remains.

On top of her civic and public service achievements, Councilwoman Cirelli is a licensed practical nurse, a certified mediator and a financial aide counselor; all of which are not just jobs but positions in which she serves as a healer.

So it is no surprise to the SCPR that she has taken an interest in a developing story as to whether or not the drinking water supply is threatened by an underground natural gas extracting process known as fracking.

Here is a graphic which shows an outline of the fracking process:

Oil and gas industry leaders maintain that there is no general threat to the public heath and safety in terms of chemical-ladened high pressure water infiltrating the nation's underground drinking water supplies and in terms of emissions of gases into the the atmosphere.

However, more and more citizens across America are not so sure and are starting to ask questions and, in some locales, moratoriums on fracking has been put in place.

Due in large part to the efforts of Chris Borello (president of the Concerned Citizens of Lake Township - CCLT) Stark Countians are being put on alert that fracking should be of concern to those of us who live in Stark inasmuch as companies in the business are buying up rights to drill for the rock-embedded gases right here in Stark.

Borello is well known throughout Stark for her work since the early 1980s in Lake Township on the industrial excess landfill (IEL) located a short distance south of the center of Uniontown on east side of Cleveland Avenue Northwest.  She has fought and fought and fought to get a cleanup of hazardous waste from what is commonly called the Uniontown dump.

One of the bitter lessons that Borello learned from her work on the Uniontown IEL is how fickle and unreliable public officials can be.    Undoubtedly, Borello has to be encouraged that a few Stark County elected officials have shown an interest in dealing with fracking before it becomes a fact of life locally. 

It is a natural for Borello to be contacted by Councilwoman Cirelli when Cirelli learned that fracking could be  on the horizon for Stark County.

Following the lead of Plain Township Trustees Louis Giavasis and Scott Haws and their concerns for Plain residents, Mary is posing questions about what ramifications fracking might have on Canton's water supply.  Accordingly, she has sent this email to her fellows on the Canton City Council:

Date: December 7, 2010
To: Canton City Council
From: Mary M. Cirelli, Council Member at Large
Subject: The impact of Oil & Gas exploration and/or drilling near aquifers controlled by of the City of Canton and those supplying residents of Canton.
  It is imperative from the public health and economic standpoint that we take immediate action to protect our water supplies. As Our Aquifer is the SECOND LARGEST Aquifer in the state of Ohio  and whereas we are sworn to protect Health,Safety and Welfare  of our water source and
  City Council has expended much time debating who we should sell water to, whether they should be required to annex into the City and various other water supply issues.
  What will the economic impact be if our water is tainted, and therefore not worth serving our own residents much less selling to other communities?
  We have an opportunity now to put safeguards in place that will keep our water potable, salable, and prevent future liability from claims against the city for supplying contaminated water.
  The threat of contamination extends far beyond the Canton City Corporation limits.
  Deep (Marcellus shale) drilling poses the threat of disturbing and contaminating OUR aquifers from great distances beyond our borders.
  Once a well is drilled-possibly 10,000 feet deep, horizontal lines can be bored extending thousands of feet away from the vertical outlet with no obvious signs above ground. These "spider wells" are used to extract mineral deposits from properties surrounding the actual well site.
  The process includes boring horizontally & fracturing layers of rock which could expose our aquifers to toxins and could reduce the amount of water available to us.
  I urge you to take whatever action is necessary to protect our water supply.
Attached please find legislation currently under consideration in Plain Township.
  Perhaps we can modify this document to meet our comprehensive needs.
The questions in the balloons in the graphic which introduces this blog are a few of the questions among many that people across the nation want answered before the fracking becomes a widespread phenomenon. According to a Repository article posted on The Rep's website on December 6th, fracking is not in the immediate offing in Stark County (Tapping natural gas underground raises concerns).

Here is the specific information provided in the article:
Marcellus Shale exploration is in the early stages in Ohio. So far ODNR has issued about 70 permits — none in Stark County — to companies interested in exploring the Marcellus Shale. Most of the permits are for traditional vertical drilling, Tugend said.

Kenyon Energy, which has a North Canton office, has been working with Chesapeake Energy to find residents interested in allowing drilling on their property.

Based in Oklahoma City, Chesapeake looks at the eastern United States as one of the most drilled but least explored areas for oil and natural gas, said Steve Rotruck, a company executive. The U.S. oil industry started in Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio, he noted.

Chesapeake is looking in Ohio and Stark County, but the company won’t provide specific details. “We are explorers. We’re looking widely,” Rotruck said.
The SCPR applauds Borello, Giavasis, Haws and Cirelli for their action in bringing the matter to the public's attention, and for putting together forums within which to require oil and gas industry leaders answer citizens' concerns to the public's satisfaction before the fact of drilling; not after.

The Plain trustees are hosting a Q&A session at township hall (2600 Easton Street, Northeast) next Tuesday, December 14th at 5:30 p.m.

It will be interesting to see how many local government officials (i.e. county commissioners, township trustees, village and city councilpersons, boards of education members, mayors et cetera) attend the Plain meeting.  In particular, now that Cirelli has alerted Canton's officials; how many of them will be present at Plain on the 14th?

Any Stark County public official charged with the duty (as Mary Cirelli puts it) to look after the health, safety and welfare of the citizens living in the official's service domain, in the opinion of the SCPR,  better have compelling reasons why he/she is not present at Plain's forum.

If fracking goes forward in Stark County and problems with the water supply develop, constituents will want to know what government officials did in the way of prevention!

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