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Ohio Utica Shale

Activists troubled by radiation issues in pending Ohio budget bill

By Bob Downing Published: June 18, 2013
A press release from Ohio activists:
Ohio Government Officials Activating a Radioactive Fracking Waste Time Bomb
Columbus, Ohio - Following the announcement of the conference committee that will work to reconcile differences in the House and Senate versions of the state budget, citizen groups and experts are calling on the committee to remove regulations governing the disposal of radioactive oil and gas waste. The provisions, put forth in the Governor’s budget proposal and removed with bipartisan support in the House, were added back into the Senate’s version of the budget bill. Opponents of the legislation say that the oil and gas industry should have to pay to dispose of Low-Level Radioactive Waste (LLRW) properly at facilities equipped to accept such wastes rather than opening up Ohio’s municipal landfills.
“The regulations, even with the changes made in the Senate version, represent yet another concession to the oil and gas industry at the expense of Ohioans’ health and safety,” says Alison Auciello, an organizer for Food & Water Watch. “Governor Kasich and our regulators are billing the proposal as a way to monitor and keep radioactive wastes from landfills. We scratched the surface, and the legislation will indeed do the opposite of the claims made by the administration. Even worse, it gives a false sense of security that we are being protected. Disposal of radioactive waste should be considered as a grave matter, not an ill-informed side note to the budget bill.”
"The General Assembly is playing a word game to remake lethally radioactive waste into 'drilling cuttings' in order to allow the drillers to dump their mountain of garbage on the cheap," said Terry Lodge, an attorney for the opposition working group. "They're replacing scientific fact with magical thinking and endangering public health, the water, land and air, all for profit. They would violate federal standards by implementing these standards. This will not stand."
Chris Borello, for Concerned Citizens of Stark County asserted, “the radiation inherently present in shale gas drilling wastes is thedefining issue regarding the very serious disposal concerns facing our state. Because Ohio appears to be the targeted regional radiation sacrifice zone, whether disposal takes place via injection wells, dumped into landfills or discharged into our Ohio surface waters from waste water plants, once let out into our environment, this carcinogenic and long-lived toxin will leave Ohioans at risk virtually forever.” Borello says the proposal in the Ohio budget is “an outdated, substandard criteria misleadingly contrary to what the National Academy of Science, the US EPA and what 37 other states cite as the protective definition concerning this form of radiation. If enacted, Ohio will in essence recklessly allow much of this radiation to be swept under the rug- posing an ongoing threat to the health of Ohioans.”
“This legislation, through the chosen definitions, exempts much radioactive and toxic material from any testing or tracking. Add oil-based substances, like benzene, to this concoction and the Governor and Ohio regulators think this waste can be used for ‘any manor authorized as a beneficial use.’ Like what? That will be determined by rules adopted by a political appointee. This is bad policy and endangers the health of everyone,” said Vanessa Pesec, President of NEOGAP (Network for Oil and Gas Accountability and Protection).
Julie Weatherington-Rice, Senior Scientist at Bennet & Williams Environmental says, “Ohio learned an important lesson in the 1990s when we were considering setting a Low Level Radioactive Waste (LLRW) landfill in the state for medical and research waste. We learned that if you take a small amount of radioactive waste and mix it with a large volume of regular wastes, you end up with a large volume of radioactive waste. Somehow, our legislature and our administration have forgotten this vital, basic radiological lesson. The water soluble wastes, like radium and uranium, and radon gas just leach out anyway, leaving behind the rest of the radioactive elements to contaminate wherever our current government chooses to put them. You either learn from history, or you repeat the mistakes again and again.”
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