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Controversy erupts over oil well plan

Neighbors up in arms over landowner’s oil wells

A Yukon area homeowner is fighting to keep the owner of a plot of land near NW 10th and Cimarron Road from using two capped oil wells on the property as saltwater disposal wells.

Warren Low, a representative of the West Yukon Neighbors Association, said landowner Harold Poage has filed a petition with the Oklahoma Corporate Commission that would allow Poage to use the capped oil rigs to inject saltwater waste from Oklahoma oil well sites.

Poage owns 120 acres of land on Cimarron Road across the street from the C.E. Page Airport and at first wanted to strip the dirt off the land and sell it to construction companies and for road projects, according to Low, and that Poage also wanted to build houses “on every acre.”

The land is zoned AA (Agricultural) and Poage tried to obtain a special use permit to use the property for his purposes but the request was denied by the Oklahoma Zoning Commission, according to Low.

“A year later he started doing it anyway,” the homeowner said. “He had about 200 trucks a day running up and down Cimarron Road in front of the airport, claiming that it was a sod farm.”

Low said Poage told the Department of Mines that he wanted a permit for a sod farm and that’s why he was scraping the dirt off the property. Inspectors determined it was not being used as a sod farm and revoked the order that allowed Poage to “surface mine” the dirt on the property.

“It went to the Oklahoma City Council and they voted unanimously to deny him and also directed the city attorney to file the injunction to prevent him from the dirt mining he was doing,” Low said. “The Department of Mines issued a cessation order because they have control over the surface of the land and he had no zoning permits.”

Poage stopped that operation and decided to open up two oil wells on the property that have been plugged since 2006 and “was going to turn them into saltwater disposal wells,” Low said. He speculates that there would be “200 trucks a day bringing in 20,000 barrels of toxic waste from oil fields and start commercial saltwater disposal wells on the property.”

Low said Poage applied to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission “which has total jurisdiction over all this.” If approved, the application would allow Poage to re-open the wells and inject 10,000 barrels of oil field waste per day into each well under 1500 lbs. per square inch of pressure.

In response to Low’s comments regarding the use of the oil wells on the 120-acre tract of land, Poage said he had a permit from the mining department but “we agreed to suspend that for a time and we’re just trying to please those neighbors.”

“I hate it that they feel so bad but what we’re doing is legal and if we decide to use those disposal wells that’s also legal,” Poage said. “We’ve got a great relationship with the Corporation Commission. We have met the requirement that the state requires and the city requires. We’re trying to be law abiding citizens and do what’s right but it seems like no matter what we do out there it displeases those people.”

Poage accused Low of using the media to “make a big deal” out of his plan to inject saltwater and toxic waste into the wells.

“It’s sad that he is so upset but we’re not doing anything that’s illegal or that’s not right,” Poage maintains. “We’re trying to do everything according to the rules and regulations of the state and the city and he’s trying to create a situation where we’re trying to do stuff that’s illegal.”

Phone calls requesting comments from the attorney representing Warren Low and the West Yukon Neighbors Association, and the attorney for landowner Harold Poage were not returned.

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