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Formal Objection to Proposal to Spread “Brine” on Guernsey County Roads

Formal Objection to Proposal to Spread “Brine” on Guernsey County Roads

Dear Commissioners Gardner, Wilson and Saft:

On behalf of the FreshWater Accountability Project, we enter this formal objection to the proposal by the Kimble Company to spread “brine” that may be associated with unconventional shale drilling on any roads in Guernsey County. The flowback and produced liquids from this industry known as horizontal hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) contain chemical toxins and radioactive materials (reference PA DEP report found here along with the attached report from the Ohio Department of Health: http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/oil___gas_related_topics/20349/radiation_protection/986697).

Now you know that frack waste from horizontal hydraulic fracturing is toxic, radioactive and hazardous, despite its false label of “non-hazardous” afforded by legislative and regulatory loopholes to protect and promote the industry. Even though the waste material from conventional and unconventional drilling may be co-mingled to disguise its origin and identity, to classify all drilling waste as “brine” and spread it on roads without testing it for toxicity and radioactivity would be a reckless disregard for public and environmental health and safety.

The Kimble Company provides many services for the fracking industry. Kimble advertises on its website that it operates in waste from the Utica Shale formation, as well as conventional drilling. How do they propose to guarantee these waste streams are kept separate? The below is copied from their website:

“OIL & GAS SERVICES: ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT

 

Kimble Companies maintain a leading edge in offering single-source environmental management services to oil and natural gas producers investing in Eastern Ohio.

 

The Utica Shale formation is located approximately 1.5 to 2.0 miles below the surface in Eastern Ohio, and its enormous potential to generate oil, natural gas, and natural gas liquids has recently generated significant activity by producers requiring a full complement of environmental services.

 

In addition to supplying a complete line of aggregate products during well padsite development and construction, Kimble Companies own comprehensive transportation and disposal assets to service all aspects of the drilling, completion, and production phases of the project.

 

With a state-of-the-art landfill in Tuscarawas County, and permitted solid waste transfer facilities in Carroll, Guernsey, Stark, and Summit Counties, Kimble Companies are strategically positioned in the heart of the Utica Shale activity to provide transportation, storage, recycling, solidification, and disposal of non-hazardous wastes.

 

As a local oil and gas producer themselves, with over forty years of experience managing 500 conventional gas wells, Kimble understands the service demands and requirements of the new horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing techniques being used to unlock the Utica Shale’s resources.  Kimble has the knowledge, expertise, equipment, and disposal assets to service the transportation and disposal needs of the oil and gas industry.”

 

The parameters for the spreading of brine on public roads set forth at O.R.C. § 1509.226 require that only brine that is produced from a well that is not a horizontal well shall be allowed to be spread on a road. Fluids from the drilling of a well, flowback from the stimulation of a well, and other fluids used to treat a well shall not be spread on a road.

Because the Guernsey County Commissioners cannot guarantee that “brine” from unconventional shale drilling is not disposed of as “brine” from conventional drilling per § 1509.226 (B)(10), they cannot allow Kimble or others seeking to profit from the cheap disposal of toxic frack waste to spread “brine” on roads.  Without properly testing every load, the Commissioners cannot guarantee that the “brine” isn’t a toxic, radioactive blend derived from drilling fluids, produced “water” or flowback, from fracked oil and gas wells.  The waste stream from fracking is enormous, and brine-spreading schemes like this one afford an extensive opportunity to dispose of otherwise regulated, dangerous wastes for free. Without a regime of scientific testing for the toxicity and radiation levels of repurposed drilling wastes in the “brine,” the Commissioners cannot assure members of the public that they are protecting them from significant health risks. Accordingly, we urge that without enforceable monitoring and other guarantees against the mislabeling of fracking wastes as “brine,” the Commissioners should deny Kimble Companies’ request to spread “brine” on roads in Guernsey County. Kimble’s ties to the fracking industry and its waste products, known for high toxicity and radioactivity, must be regarded with suspicion until there is a means to prove otherwise with 100% accuracy.

It is a criminal act in Ohio to knowingly poison drinking water supplies. The run-off of fracking substances characterized only as “brine” from roads into streams and tributaries that connect to  local drinking water sources and supplies in reservoirs and aquifers in the area is a direct threat to human health. To deliberately and knowingly allow such a practice would be in violation of Ohio Revised Code § 2927.24(B)(1), which makes it a crime to “knowingly place a poison, hazardous chemical, biological, or radioactive substance, or other harmful substance in a spring, well, reservoir, or public water supply, if the person knows or has reason to know that the . . . water may be ingested or used by another person.”  Violation of this criminal law is a first degree felony.  “Brine” from the unconventional shale drilling industry spread on roads will inevitably drain into springs, wells, reservoirs and public water supplies. We are doing all we can to advise and inform those who could be unknowingly implicating themselves in a criminal act. When public waterways are poisoned by the spreading of frack waste brine, there will be many seeking the prosecutions of all who caused it and those who allowed it to happen. Now that you know the potential dangers and criminal codes that could lead to prosecution, we are certain you will not take that risk.

We strongly advise the Guernsey County Commissioners to NOT pass the proposed resolution and to take steps to prohibit the spreading of “brine” from horizontal hydraulic fracturing oil and gas drilling wastes onto public roads and highways in Guernsey County.  Thank you in advance for denying this dangerous scheme that could allow frack waste from unconventional drilling to be spread on Guernsey County roads.

 

Sincerely,

 

Lea Harper

Managing Director

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