Ohio Anti-Fracking Group Demanding Coast Guard to Conduct Study
It is good to have some actual facts in hand before reading the following press release from an Ohio anti-fracking group. Perhaps the most important thing is that the proposed plan of hauling brine on barges that this group is protesting is not what the group is claiming it is. GreenHunter Water is wanting to haul brine which is released from wells months after fracking occurs, long after water containing fracking chemicals is removed. The brine does contain minerals and may contain some radium at levels well below any danger threshold.
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The idea of such material being transported down the Ohio River, therefore, is far from unprecedented. There are unquestionably far more hazardous substances being moved on the water every day.
Having considered that, here is the group's press release.
March 11, 2013
PRESS NOTIFICATION - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contacts: Terry Lodge (Attorney): (419)-255-7552 email@example.com
Elisa Young (Meigs CAN): (740)-416-2694 firstname.lastname@example.org
GROUP DEMANDS BASIC ASSESSMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS FOR
UNPRECEDENTED FRACKING WASTE TRANSFER STATION ON THE OHIO RIVER
Meigs Citizens Action Now (Meigs CAN), a Southeastern Ohio grassroots community group,
is waiting for a response from the United States Coast Guard regarding a demand letter
calling for an environmental impact study (EIS) of Texas-based GreenHunter Water LLC’s
proposed transfer station. If approved, the facility would transport produced water and
flowback from fracking sites through the Ohio River by barge for bulk disposal.
“This type of activity is unprecedented,” said Elisa Young, founder of Meigs CAN, “Both in
terms of the volume and the content of the waste involved. This would be the first facility
of its kind in the country. Each barge could carry up to 4.5 million gallons of fracking waste.
There has been no limit set. The waste is known to contain diesel fuel, chemicals classified
as hazardous waste, carcinogens, and radiation levels 300 times higher than the Nuclear
Regulatory Commission allows for industrial releases. Evaluating the impacts to public
health and safety from hauling this through our drinking water must be done in a sound,
GreenHunter Water, LLC of Grapevine, Texas, leased riverfront property in New Matamoras,
Ohio, last year with the intent of setting up interstate waste transfer operations. The site
includes a cluster of tanks originally installed for oil storage. They could hold 70,000
barrels (or 2.8 million gallons) of waste at a time. The 10-acre site has changed ownership
multiple times since Mobil originally constructed it in the 1960’s. The current owner,
Pennsylvania’s Weavertown Environmental Group, specializes in industrial accident
response, and has applied to open a solid waste transfer facility on the same site.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources, who was granted jurisdiction over
GreenHunter’s unprecedented facility, announced that no permits would be required to
approve the terminal. Meigs CAN disputes this decision, and believes the United States
Coast Guard must conduct a thorough evaluation of the potential impacts and impose
appropriate regulatory safeguards before allowing this activity to proceed.
“The only public notice regarding this facility was an industry press release stating that
GreenHunter Water had commenced operations last July. When it came to our attention, I
called to ask why there had been no public notice and was informed that no permits had
been issued, and that they were still in the process of determining which regulatory agency
would have jurisdiction over GreenHunter’s operation.”
The ODNR ultimately was granted jurisdiction of the facility, and rendered the decision that
no permits would be required for “temporary” storage or transfer of the fracking waste.
ODNR staff geologists do issue permits for high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing and
injection wells for waste disposal, but they have no training or qualifications to determine
whether air or NPDES permits are necessary to protect public health, safety, or the
surrounding environment. With no similar facilities in existence, it is impossible for them
to base the decision to waive permits on emissions, routine or accidental release estimates
from similar facilities.
“People in Southeastern Ohio are acutely aware of what an unregulated, undisclosed
chemical can do to their drinking water here on the Ohio River,” said Young. “We became
part of the largest human health study ever undertaken in the United States after a huge
cattle die-off caused by Dupont’s release of C8 (used to make Teflon) into our environment.
When the U.S. EPA stepped in, we learned C8 was present in our private and public drinking
water supplies at greater levels than Dupont previously claimed was safe for their own
employees. What happens when an entire slew of undisclosed chemicals shrouded in
proprietary secrecy is released into our drinking water, like the D&L injection well
operators dumping into the Mahoning River? The only way to verify the potential impacts
of GreenHunter’s proposed facility is for the Coast Guard to complete an EIS.”
Requests for transparency and opportunities for public participation have been denied by
the Coast Guard to date. Requests to identify the criteria for setting the Texas limited
liability corporation’s bond for damages, disclosure of chemicals, and basic first responder
training in the event of routine or accidental releases also remain unanswered.
“A lot of the overall project is being kept secret,” said Terry Lodge, Toledo attorney for
Meigs CAN. “We want the Coast Guard to explain where all the garbage from this gigantic
scheme will go and let the public decide if Ohio will be left with the liability in the event of
unplanned releases or accidents. The public must be able to understand the dangers to
human health and the environment that thousands of transport truck tankers carrying
millions of gallons of radioactive and carcinogenic waste might create. Questions of
ultimate disposal and the apparent indifference toward environmental enforcement laws
lead us to believe that this is yet another ‘fast one’ the captured regulatory agencies are
putting over on the public for the benefit of corporate profit.”
The group will be lining up additional public support for the environmental impact
statement in the coming weeks.
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