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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

CHEJ to Highlight First Responder Risks from Ohio’s Proposed Right-to-Know Changes

Carrollton Ohio: Ohio House Bill 490, sponsored by Andy Thompson (R), whose district includes Carroll County, seeks to stop direct reporting of hazardous chemical inventories to state and local emergency planners and fire departments for Ohio drillers. Instead the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) would have sole discretion over whether, and to what extent, critical chemical information will be shared with first responders and citizens living near gas and oil wells.

Since 1986, the Federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), sought to ensure that local emergency planning and firefighters be the lawful repository for emergency planning documentation for all industries. Paul Feezel, Chair of Carroll Concerned Citizens said, “Being at the center of Ohio’s shale gas boom, we thought it was really important to support our local first responders by having an educational meeting on this proposed change. After all, ODNR is not who answers when someone from Carroll County calls 9-11.”

At the Carroll Concerned Citizens April 2 meeting, Teresa Mills of the Center for Health and Environmental Justice (CHEJ) will provide an overview of the importance of EPCRA regulations for first responders--especially for rural southeastern communities seeing increased shale gas activities. She will use a June 2014 Monroe County well-pad chemical fire to demonstrate driller and ODNR failures. The StatOil fire engulfed 20 semi-trucks, triggered over 30 explosions, caused volunteer fire fighters to retreat, the evacuation of 25 nearby homes, and resulted in 54,000 gallons of chemicals spilled into a tributary of the Ohio River.

HB 490 seeks to carve out an EPCR exception for just one industry—gas and oil. Silverio Caggiano, a 31-year veteran of the Youngstown Fire Department and a member of several hazmat task forces will join Ms. Mills to share a brief first responder’s view of the proposed changes. The concern is that working under two sets of laws will cause confusion and put both first responders and communities at risk.

Teresa Mills’ presentation will be held at the Church of Christ – Christian Disciples located at 353 Moody Ave. Carrollton. It begins at 7pm and is free and open to the public.
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