Contact: Lea Harper, Managing Director, (419) 450-7042, firstname.lastname@example.org
John A. Heer, Esq. Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services, (234) 255-5627, email@example.com
Grand Rapids, OH) FreshWater Accountability Project of Ohio has been working for years to stop the proposed barging of frack waste on the Ohio, Allegheny and Monongahela rivers. Over the past year, a tri-state coalition was formed to combine forces to stop the loading of barges of frack waste in other states that are destined for Ohio waste disposal, including Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Through the coordination of efforts by the coalition, a petition has been initiated to involve the regions’ resident and organizations to request the US Coast Guard and others to stop the barging of frack waste on the rivers before it begins. An informative article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette stated, “…multiple environmental organizations from the tristate area have strong concerns and many questions about those plans, saying river waste¬water trans¬port is poorly regulated and increases risks of chem¬i¬cal and radioactive spills, and those spills can contaminate water¬ways that are drinking water sources for mil¬lions of people, and, increasingly, recreational venues.”
FreshWater has also worked closely with Concerned Ohio River Residents (CORR) that started a petition signed by over 800 people and posted a story map about the proposed barge loading/unloading operations. CORR has run an ad and billboard campaign to oppose barging of frack waste and continues to monitor the river for signs of frack waste barges headed for injection wells on the Ohio side.
As pointed out in a report by Physicians for Safe Energy, a spill or worse, a barge accident on the rivers could have catastrophic consequences. The report cited estimates from the USACE that because of climate change, the Ohio River watershed could have to carry up to 50 percent more water in this century. The US Coast Guard’s database shows that barge accidents are already on the rise. With the rivers already impaired by pollution, including “forever chemicals,” also found in frack waste, such a risk that barging frack waste with toxic, radioactive and unknown proprietary chemicals should not be allowed. At the very least, each barge load would have to be fully analyzed for a complete characterization of all chemicals for any possible chance of remediation if a spill occurred. Since a single barge can hold approximately one million gallons of frack waste, a barge accident resulting in a large release would be catastrophic, and practically impossible to completely clean up.
Recently, Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services filed a, “Plaintiff’s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment,” in federal court in ongoing efforts to stop the barge loading/unloading facility for Deep Rock disposal near Marietta, Ohio. Houston-based Deep Rock, a business partner with Comtech Industries, owner of another terminal in Bellaire, Ohio, operates twelve deep disposal wells at five sites near the unloading terminals. The Deep Rock frack waste injection facility is near another injection well, Redbird #4, known to have leaked for miles into other producing wells in the region. The ongoing legal challenge is hoped to bring forward the fact that inadequate environmental studies were done before authorizing the barge dock use to unload frack waste, among other complaints.
Considering the implications of barge transportation and disposal on and near major rivers needed for drinking water and recreation, efforts will continue to press regulatory agencies to weigh the risks of their decisions and rescind any permission to allow barging of frack waste.