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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Environmentalists Win Fight Over Chemical Disclosure, But Does the Change Actually Put People More at Risk?

From The Columbus Dispatch:
Ohio officials sent a memo this month notifying companies that a federal right-to-know law trumps a 2001 state law that allowed them to send the information exclusively to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
The memo “puts oil and gas companies on notice that they will have to comply with the federal requirements,” said Chris Abbruzzese, a spokesman for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
Further from the article: 
Teresa Mills, an Ohio organizer for the Center for Health, Environment and Justice, said the change will benefit residents of areas where fracking occurs.
“They can go to their local emergency-planning commission and ask for these records,” she said.
Mills petitioned the U.S. EPA to review the state law to see whether it conflicted with the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. Federal officials sent a letter in April confirming that it did.
Tom Stewart, vice president of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, said the change will make it more difficult for firefighters to learn what chemical hazards they might face at a shale-well fire.
“We changed the law so fire departments could rely on the annual reports we make to (Natural Resources), which would be inserted into an emergency-response website,” Stewart said. He said that firefighters now will have to sort through files instead of getting information online.
Read the whole story here. 

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