A coalition of Ohio activists on Thursday asked Gov. John Kasich to get answers to unanswered questions about radioactive drilling wastes.
The activists, in a letter, urged Kasich to personally direct the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to answer questions on shale drilling wastes from Ohio and out-of-state drillers that are coming into Ohio.
The letter to the governor was signed by 53 activists and eco-groups.
The signees said they believe the questions raised are "critically important in protecting public health, safety and welfare and deserve complete answers from the state."
The fear is that "vast quantities" of radiation-laden waste is coming into Ohio in drilling liquids and solid wastes, and that Ohio is not equipped to deal with such wastes, said activist Chris Borello of Stark County’s Plain Township who drafted the message to Kasich.
The letter was received by Kasich’s office, said spokesman Rob Nichols. Ohio is moving toward strengthening rules under provisions outlined in the new state budget bill, he said.
But the activists are unhappy with the direction that Ohio is moving.
"To garner public trust and credability, it is imperative that your various agencies act in a transparent and forthcoming manner, given the potential risks posed to public health, worker safety and to the environment for many years to come, long after the drilling has gone bust," said Borello’s message.
Getting answers from those three agencies has been difficult and frustrating to activists, she wrote.
Borello posed a series of specific questions on radioactive drilling wastes to the heads of the three state agencies.
She also wants to know why Ohio opted for a weaker, less-protective definition of radioactive waste which allows more of that waste to legally make its way into Ohio without proper acountability or monitoring.
She said: "It is our understanding that Ohio’s less-protective stance…is contrary to what the U.S. EPA, the National Academy of Sciences and others have defined."
Radioactive waste should not be mixed with dirt and put into Ohio’s solid-waste landfills, Borello said. They are not designed to handle such wastes, she said.
Radioactive wastes could contaminate surface and ground waters, she said. It could get into landfill leachate and be shipped to sewage plants before it is discharged into streams, she said.
Earlier, Kasich had submitted a letter to the activists, outlining Ohio’s plan contained in the state budget bill to strengthen its regulatory programs on such wastes.
Those provisions will require that such radioactive waste be properly tested, managed and disposed, the governor said.
The agencies, he said, had worked together "to develop a comprehensive and sensible plan that will protect public health and safety, Kasich said in a July 26 note.
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.
The Ohio Environmental Council, a statewide eco-group based in Columbus.
Earthjustice, a national eco-group.
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.
Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.
Allegheny Front, environmental public radio for Western Pennsylvania.