New oil well faces criticism from township residents


A second oil well is proposed near an existing well (in background) on Valley Road in Raisin Township. A historic cemetery and residential properties are located nearby. Photo by Mickey Alvarado.

A company planning to drill a possible oil well near a historic gravesite drew opposition during the March 28 Raisin Township meeting. Savoy Energy is planning to use an injection method to find oil on East Valley Road a short distance from the Underground Railroad pioneer Elizabeth Chandler’s gravesite.

Savoy wants to inject brine into a rock formation 1,926 feet below surface level. No fluids, other than brine, are allowed to be injected into the proposed well. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the permit the week before the meeting. Raisin Township plans to appeal the project. The board made a unanimous decision to send a letter of appeal to the EPA.

Trustee Dale Mitchell, Treasurer Kami Johnson and Supervisor Jay Cavanaugh were absent from the meeting.

Resident Michael Hubbard said there is no reason for Savoy to put in a second oil well, as they have plenty of other places they can drill for oil. “I’m adamantly against it because they’re going to pierce the aquifer,” Hubbard said. “It affects our water and our air. It’s a crime against humanity for them to be doing this.”

Hubbard added that one of his neighbors experienced gas in his water immediately after excavation for the first oil well began. “It might be legal, but it’s still unethical to the max.”

Resident Cal Bird also had concerns about the current well. “The biggest concern we have is with the kids in the neighborhood,” Bird said. “Are they going to put a fence around the existing well?”

Palmer is concerned about the possible damage that could be done to the curve on Valley Road and Occidental Highway after the equipment needed to drill the oil well comes through. Last year, the township spent $1.5 million dollars servicing the road. “Now they’re coming in with trucks, and I’m concerned about the weight conditions there,” Palmer said. Other concerns voiced were how the well may impact the River Raisin.

Palmer said Savoy Energy, the EPA and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) are not required to hold a public meeting, although he is requesting representatives from those groups to attend such a meeting. Savoy’s project plans have met the EPA guidelines. The DEQ still needs to issue final approval on the project. If the appeal process is not successful, the township will explore taking legal action.

Summerfield Township Supervisor John Chandler attended the meeting. He helped lead a successful effort in Monroe County to stop an injection well being installed. He noted that stopping the injection well installation is possible, but will take the effort of the community.

In other township news, the board made a unanimous decision to accept Cavanaugh’s resignation as supervisor after he sent a letter stating that March 30 would be his last day. The township has 45 days from March 31 to appoint an interim supervisor who can serve out the remainder of the term until a new supervisor is elected. Anyone who is a registered voter can be nominated by a member of the board to be appointed supervisor. Any discussions, interviews or votes on the supervisor position must be done in open session of a board meeting, according to township attorney David Lacasse.

Raisin Township has appointed a supervisor twice before, including after the death of 2012 former Supervisor Carl Wagner.

The board made a unanimous vote that interested candidates must submit a letter of interest by April 5 and that on April 11, those candidates will be publicly interviewed. If not at that meeting, another special meeting will be scheduled in order to make the decision by the end of April.

“It’s too soon to decide now,” Trustee Tom Hawkins said. “I agree we need to wait.”


Tecumseh Herald


110 E. Logan St.
P.O. Box 218
Tecumseh, MI 49286

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