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Activists Rally in Columbus Against Waste Disposal
“Don’t Waste Ohio” Legislator Accountability Day Highlights the Dangers of Fracking Waste Disposal
Columbus, Ohio - A coalition of local, statewide and national groups concerned about toxic waste from hydraulic fracturing, better known as “fracking,” gathered at the Statehouse today for “Don’t Waste Ohio” Legislator Accountability Day. The coalition called for an end to the state being used as a regional dumping ground for oil and gas waste. Participants in the afternoon rally met with their legislators in the morning, advocating for passage of legislation in both the House and Senate that would ban underground injection of fracking waste.
In 2012, the City of Cincinnati banned the underground injection of waste in order to prevent oil and gas waste wells from being permitted within city limits. Following the unanimous vote on the ordinance, and residents called on local area State Representative Denise Driehaus to take action on the issue on the state level. Along with fellow co-sponsor Representative Robert Hagan of Youngstown; Rep. Driehaus introduced House Bill 148, which would enact a statewide ban on the underground injection of fracking waste. Senator Skindell followed suit by introducing the same legislation in the Senate.
“It’s like we have a sign on our backs here in Ohio for the industry saying ‘Dump your waste here.’ We don’t know what is in the waste or how radioactive it really is, and the leaders in the state legislature haven’t even allowed the legislation to be open for testimony from the public,” said Alison Auciello, an organizer for Food & Water Watch.
“We need to protect Ohio communities, not risk them for cheap, easy disposal of the oil and gas industry’s dirty leftovers,” said Auciello.
In 2013, drillers disposed of nearly 700 million gallons of fracking waste, injecting it underground in Ohio, an increase of 100 million gallons from the previous year, with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) conducting only limited and random sampling to identify what toxins were in the waste. The Ohio Department of Health Radiation Protection Program, to date, has conducted only one batch of sampling of the solid and liquid waste for the presence of radioactivity, yet the state is moving forward with new rules governing its disposal.
“What is shocking is how quickly the administration and ODNR move forward to allow more and more waste injection without knowing the effects underground. We’ve seen problematic injection wells, sporadic inspections and earthquakes. But, the agency charged with protecting us sounds just like the oil and gas industry when they minimize or dismiss the problems,” said Susie Beiersdorfer, geologist and member of Frackfree Mahoning Valley.
“Just like our legislative leaders, it looks like ODNR is protecting the industry rather than the residents of our state,” Beiersdorfer said.
Under Ohio regulation, local municipalities and residents cannot appeal issued permits or decide where and whether fracking activity happens in their community. There is a short public comment period for injection well permit applications, but despite overwhelming opposition to new injection wells in the comments received, ODNR has moved forward to issue new permits. The ODNR is currently working on rules that would govern the disposal of the solid waste from fracking.
Kip Rondy, farmer and owner of Green Edge Gardens, is concerned enough about the legacy that Ohio will be left with from fracking waste disposal and the lack of a state response to community concerns that he was arrested with eight other community members blocking an injection well accepting waste in his Athens county.
Rondy told the court on behalf of the arrestees, “The ODNR has failed to hold public hearings concerning the proposed injection well, ignored and denied lawful information requests, and continues to act in a capricious and arbitrary manner concerning the citizen's stated objections. It is then, when we the Citizenry of Athens County, facing the real and permanent threat to our aquifer, our air, our earth - when the will of lawfully elected officials is ignored - that the acts of civil disobedience before the court today are not merely justified, but become obligatory.”
Over half of the waste injected each year has come from out-of-state fracking operations. Ohio is home to 202 active injection well sites, with 234 total permits as of the beginning of March, as compared to five active injection wells in neighboring Pennsylvania.
Don’t Waste Ohio Planning Committee: Frack Free Ohio; Food & Water Watch; Frack Free Mahoning Valley; Sierra Club Ohio Chapter; Ohio Student Environmental Coalition; Energy Action Coalition; Athens County Fracking Action Network; NEOGAP (Network for Oil and Gas Accountability and Protection); Stark Summit Coalition; Buckeye Forest Council; Center for Health, Environment
Chesapeake Energy continues to see its legal battles compound over its royalty-payment practices. Already facing lawsuits in several different states and having been subpoenaed by the U.S. Department of Justice, StateImpact Pennsylvania reports that another government outfit is taking a legal interest in the company's royalty payment strategies: Chesapeake Energy has been subpoenaed by the U.S. Postal service, seeking information on its royalty practices, according to a regulatory filing. As StateImpact Pennsylvania has previously reported , the Oklahoma City-based driller faces a slew of disputes and complaints over how it pays royalties. We've posted articles in the past that looked at some of the questionable practices that Chesapeake has employed to reduce the amount of royalties it pays out to landowners. As a quick refresher, note how ProPublica reporter Abrahm Lustgarten shared some of the details in an article which we shared here on The Daily Digger in March
From the Times Leader: Tri-State Environmental of Cadiz has applied for permits to install two different brine injection wells off Fairview Road in Kirkwood Township, Belmont County. According to a public notice, Tri-State has applied for permits with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to dig two wells to inject brine water associated with the production of oil and natural gas. The first well would be called Tri-State #1, in Section 31, Kirkwood Township. “The proposed well will inject into the Ohio Shale at a depth of 4,600 to 4,800 feet. The average injection is estimated to be 4,000 barrels per day,” according to the notice. “The maximum injection pressure is estimated to be 1,060 psi.” The second well would be called Tri-State #2, in Section 25, Kirkwood Township. “The proposed well will inject into the Bass Islands through Salina Group at a depth of 5,200 to 5,500 feet,” the notice states. The No. 2 well also would receive an estimated 4,000 barrels of brine pe