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Ohio Utica Shale

Activists happy that Corps of Engineers taking more comments

By Bob Downing Published: August 11, 2014

From the Athens County Fracking Action Network today:

Aug. 8, 2014 ––Appalachian region environmental advocates are celebrating the success of their efforts to convince the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to extend the comment period on a frackwaste barge dock permit proposed for Portland, Meigs County, Ohio. The new comment period ends Aug. 24. “We have gained another window for the public to submit additional and we hope more extensive, specific concerns,” said Andrea Reik of Athens County (Ohio) Fracking Action Network. “We urge people to look at the model comments posted at acfan.org and to call on the Corps to conduct both a public hearing and an environmental impact study on this dangerous proposal.”

 

Reik explained, “The 981 miles of the Ohio River provide drinking water to over 3 million people. 10% of the country lives in the Ohio River Basin. GreenHunter’s proposed dock would accept over 105 million gallons of frackwaste annually. Why would the Corps even consider approving this project when the chemical makeup of radioactive frack waste is a guarded secret? Look at ongoing impacts of poisoned water on the cities of Charleston and Toledo and of C8, which after years is still poisoning the very region where this dock is proposed,” she warned.

 

Activists from around the region echoed Reik’s concerns. Robin Blakeman, of Huntington, West Virginia’s Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, said, “OVEC started our work over 25 years ago out of concern for toxic pollution to the Ohio River. We have grave concern over what will happen - in the form of leaks, spillage, and more catastrophic chemical fires - if tons of toxic and potentially radioactive waste products from unconventional gas drilling are shipped and unloaded along the Ohio. This is possibly the biggest threat to the tap water supply of millions of people in recent history."

 

Acfan.org’s model comments provide extensive details from USEPA’s report on July’s weeklong fire at a Monroe County, Ohio, frack pad, in which first responders and downstream water suppliers did not have information on what the chemicals were that were exploding, burning, and spilling into Opossum Creek, an Ohio River tributary. 70,000 fish in the creek were killed.

 

Mary Greer, coordinator of Concerned Citizens Ohio, a Portage County group that has been fighting fracking and injection wells for four years, commented, “The Ohio River is one of this nation’s largest and most important water resources, as critical as the Great Lakes, the Mississippi, and the Missouri. It is negligent and irresponsible to use the Ohio to transport hazardous wastes that could gut the entire Ohio Valley region with contamination that can never be remediated. Eleven states are directly affected by the Ohio River: Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee Illinois,

Missouri, and states contiguous to the Mississippi River where the Ohio ends: Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Why would elected officials and regulatory agencies ever risk the water source of such a massive population area as the entire Ohio River Valley for one company’s barge permit?” she asked.

 

Greer stated, “By law, a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment must be made of these areas before a permit is issued to GreenHunter.” She pointed out that such studies take time. “Big projects usually allot two years for a major environmental report,” she said.

 

The model comments posted by the concerned citizens’ network state, in part, “I request a public hearing and an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on this matter, owing to its significant, likely or certain and largely irremediable impacts, especially on public water supplies, water conservation, and air and water quality as well as on public safety and the needs and welfare of the people throughout the eleven-state region who would all be affected by impacts of the project. The unloading and storage of vast quantities of highly hazardous, highly flammable, explosive, toxic radioactive chemicals[1] on the Ohio River are a matter of extreme public interest. In addition to chemicals used in the drilling and fracking process, mercury and other heavy metals, high salinity (chloride at up to 196,000 mg/l), radioactivity (EPA reports liquid Marcellus Shale waste to contain radium 226 at concentrations of up to 16,030 pCi/l; the maximum legal limit in drinking water is 5 pCi/L), and hydrocarbons are at significant levels in frackwaste.[2] The project has no benefits to the region. Its reasonably foreseeable detriments are of great public consequence and must be considered in a public hearing and an EIS.”

 

The concerns raised are particularly relevant given yet another irremediable disastercaused by extraction waste now moving downriver toward Vancouver, British Columbia.(http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2014/08/06/spill-damage-likely-permanent-researcher)

The group’s comments raise questions about the Corps’ responsibility to consider environmental justice in both its public notice and evaluation of the project. They also cite attorney Terry Lodge’s July 28 comments[3] submitted to the Corps on behalf of twenty Ohio, West Virginia, and Illinois groups as well several national organizations for their “extensive legal analysis of the necessity for an EIS based on the facility being a federal project with significant cumulative impacts on the region, including potential air and water pollution, negative economic impacts, and greenhouse gas emissions.”

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Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management State agency Web site.

ODNR Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management. State drilling permits. List is updated weekly.

ODNR Division of Geological Survey.

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Ohio State University Extension.

Ohio Farm Bureau.

Ohio Oil and Gas Association, a Granville-based group that represents 1,500 Ohio energy-related companies.

Ohio Oil & Gas Energy Education Program.

Energy In Depth, a trade group.

Marcellus and Utica Shale Resource Center by Ohio law firm Bricker & Eckler.

Utica Shale, a compilation of Utica shale activities.

Landman Report Card, a site that looks at companies involved in gas and oil leases.FracFocus, a compilation of chemicals used in fracking individual wells as reported voluntarily by some drillers.

Chesapeake Energy Corp,the Oklahoma-based firm is the No. 1 driller in Ohio.

Rig Count Interactive Map by Baker Hughes, an energy services company.

Shale Sheet Fracking, a Youngstown Vindicator blog.

National Geographic's The Great Shale Rush.

The Ohio Environmental Council, a statewide eco-group based in Columbus.

Buckeye Forest Council.

Earthjustice, a national eco-group.

Stop Fracking Ohio.

People's Oil and Gas Collaborative-Ohio, a grass-roots group in Northeast Ohio.

Concerned Citizens of Medina County, a grass-roots group.

No Frack Ohio, a Columbus-based grass-roots group.

Fracking: Gas Drilling's Environmental Threat by ProPublica, an online journalism site.

Penn State Marcellus Center.

Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.

Allegheny Front, environmental public radio for Western Pennsylvania.