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State Attorney General Alerted to Illegal Orders by ODNR

State Attorney General Alerted to Illegal Orders by ODNR

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 3, 2014 – The FreshWater Accountability Project (FWAP), a grassroots non-profit water protection organization, today demanded that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) cancel the temporary authorizations issued for at least 23 toxic and radioactive fracking waste facilities in Ohio. The facilities granted Chief’s Orders to operate include open pit frack waste storage, water separation and recycling systems, radioactive “downblending” facilities, and unregulated and unmonitored dumps. Authorizations included a huge valley fill disposal scheme in Belmont County, a radioactive waste processing operation in Youngstown, and a large waste processing and injection facility next to the Tuscarawas River.

FWAP’s demand for revocation of orders is required due to the lack of enforceable standards to provide environmental safeguards and protect worker and public health and safety. The facilities were authorized for the most part to accommodate the huge amount of solid, semi-solid and liquid waste that is being generated by the horizontal hydrofracking (fracking) industry, much of which is being exported to Ohio from other states which do not want the waste and have not made arrangements to dispose of it. The letter (copy attached) requests an immediate revocation of the temporary authorizations granted without required regulations per Ohio law.

“We had to learn about these facilities by filing public records requests. The ODNR issued Chief’s Orders in complete secrecy from the general public. We have alerted the county commissioners of the counties in which these hazardous waste facilities are approved to operate because the ODNR failed to do so, we believe deliberately, to avoid public scrutiny,” stated Lea Harper of FreshWater Accountability Project (FWAP). “We have also filed an appeal on one facility in Belmont County near Barnesville that would allow dumping without groundwater or soil protection. If local residents knew of what was being planned for their community, there would likely be the same kind of public outcry we saw in Barnesville. There is no upside to these facilities – no one would want them in their locale. It is important local officials get involved to protect the citizenry. These authorizations were made by the ODNR without regulation and without notification to any local officials or residents that may be adversely impacted. It is now completely obvious that the ODNR cares more about serving the fracking industry than the long-term health and detrimental environmental impacts that such unmonitored and unregulated operations can cause.”

“ODNR is handing out boilerplate permits that don’t even require the company to adhere to the terms of the applications they have submitted to the State,” stated Attorney Terry Lodge, author of the letter to Director Zehringer. “It is not regulation to rubber stamp a one-size-fits-all Chief’s Order which imposes exactly zero standards upon those facilities handling poisonous and radioactive oil and gas wastes when critical protections for public health, air and water are needed.”

Radioactive frack waste is being found in landfills and dumpsites in other states that are now implementing oversight and investigating the extent of the problem. If the 23 facilities that were authorized are allowed to operate, vast watersheds are put at serious risk for improper processing and disposal of hazardous frack waste.

Some companies are Limited Liability Corporations that could leave the area with a long-term, costly remediation problem. When the fracking boom becomes a bust, the question is who will pay to decommission and decontaminate the facilities and clean up any pollution that is left.

“Without rules and regulations in place to track the waste, accurately measure radioactivity and other toxins, track and monitor the concentrated solids and filters that are disposed and dumped, protect soil, air and ground and surface water, and to safely close the facilities, the public will likely be on a very expensive clean-up hook in the future when the companies leave town,” stated Lea Harper. “ODNR may be beholding to the industry that is generating some revenue for it, but it should care more about Ohioans than supporting a temporary, toxic industry at our expense.”

The letter to ODNR Director Zehringer allows 20 days for adequate response or other remedies may be sought.

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Letter to James Zehringer, Director, ODNR; Re: Demand for revocation of Chief’s Orders for drilling waste disposal facilities (pdf)

4-14-14 USEPA Appeal – 23 facilities permitted by ODNR (pdf)

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