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Ohio EPA Air Permitting Scheme Challenged

Ohio EPA Air Permitting Scheme Challenged

(Grand Rapids, OH) The FreshWater Accountability Project (FWAP) and Food & Water Watch have issued notice that the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency should convene hearings and accept citizen comments to gather testimony from communities and individuals affected by the noisy and polluting gas pipeline compressor stations proposed for operation across Ohio. The proposed compressors would pump hydraulically fractured (fracked) methane gas at 1440 psi pressure at approximately 800 mph through the Spectra Nexus and ET Rover pipelines. The routes would cross Ohio, and run through Michigan en route to a storage and export distribution hub near Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. Pipeline opponents object to the carbon emissions, chemical carcinogens and radioactive particulate matter pollution that would be emitted due to normal operations, as well as to the explosion dangers posed by the pipelines and their compressor stations. The environmental groups accuse the Ohio EPA of quietly reviewing the permit applications with the intention of approving them without public notice or involvement. “We must expose the stealth processing of permits for industrial plants that will leak and exhaust significant amounts of methane and volatile organic compounds (VOC’s),” said Lea Harper, Managing Director of FWAP. “No one is looking at the total pollution and carcinogenic load of these pipeline projects, so we are insisting that the OEPA take testimony and evidence before the permits are finalized. The final approvals for the eight Nexus and Rover compressors planned for Ohio could be granted soon. It is urgent for the public to insist on having a role, especially those who will be downwind.” “If the pipeline compressors are put into service, they will collectively emit hundreds of tons per year of toxic pollutants and greenhouse gases,” said Alison Auciello, Ohio Organizer for Food & Water Watch. “They are planned near places where we live, work and congregate, exempt from local zoning controls, leaking carcinogens and endocrine disruptors for decades into our communities. Because most of the gas is slated for export, OEPA’s rubber stamp approval of these stations is even more suspect.” “The cumulative air pollution effect of the large pipeline projects planned for Ohio is alarming,” stated Terry Lodge, attorney and author of the letter to the Ohio...

Proposed Rules by Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Challenged

Proposed Rules by Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Challenged

Contact: Lea Harper, Managing Director, wewantcleanwater@gmail.com Terry Lodge, Attorney, lodgelaw@yahoo.com (Grand Rapids, OH) A coalition of 27 grassroots environmental organizations and 15 Ohio individual citizens have joined together and formally challenged new rules proffered by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) to weaken air quality regulation for compressor station installations, which are key parts of gas mega-pipelines planned to serve the unconventional shale drilling (fracking) industry. The coalition, led by the FreshWater Accountability Project with support from the Buckeye Forest Council and Food and Water Watch, formed in opposition to OEPA’s efforts to “streamline and expedite” this important aspect of permitting process, which would further promote the horizontal hydrofracking (fracking) industry in Ohio. The streamlining, activists claim, comes at the expense of local residents who are likely to be detrimentally impacted by toxic chemical and radiological exposures in the vicinity of compressor stations. If the OEPA grants such “general permits” to polluters for these facilities, there will be no public notice or comment period as a prerequisite to controlling emissions of benzene, volatile organic chemicals, radon gas and radium-226. Moreover, polluters will be able to keep the permit even if they are polluting beyond the allowable amount. Despite growing opposition from local citizens who object to fracking and mega-pipeline projects in their communities, there would be no means to voice opposition under the proposed shift to general permits. The opponents asserted in their letter that, “The proposed permitting scheme does not provide specific, technically accurate limits on potential to emit and does not establish specific operating parameters to ensure those limits are achieved,” which could then put the proposed general permitting process in violation of Federal laws. Another claimed omission is specific to unconventional gas: “There are no provisions for identification of, measurement of, or mitigation of releases of radon gas, Ra-226, Ra-228, Th-232 or other radioisotopes common to hydraulically-fractured gas,” thus allowing radon and radioactive particulate matter to be emitted without regulation. The letter to the OEPA can be accessed at: http://www.fwap.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/FINAL-comments.pdf. The coalition leaders continue to try to understand the reasoning behind this policy change by the OEPA in order to inform and organize those who are likely to be most affected...

SEC Asked To Investigate Greenhunter Resources

SEC Asked To Investigate Greenhunter Resources

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  (Grand Rapids, OH) FreshWater Accountability Project (FWAP) has filed a complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for an investigation of GreenHunter Resources, Inc.’s statements to potential investors and current shareholders that the company currently is legally empowered to ship via barge on the Ohio River the chemical and radioactive wastes from hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for oil and gas. The complaint was filed amid mounting concerns among Ohio River Basin citizen organizations that GreenHunter repeats the claims time and again, despite the fact that the U.S. Coast Guard has made no decision to allow fracking waste (called Shale Gas Extraction Waste Water, or SGEWW) to be barge-shipped. GreenHunter insists to the finance community that it may legally ship fracking waste to injection wells and waste handling facilities being built in Meigs County, Ohio and Ritchie County, West Virginia. GreenHunter Water LLC alleges USCG approval on their website by stating, “GreenHunter Water has spearheaded the movement to barge oilfield waste water. In addition to GreenHunter’s state-of-the-art trucking and pipeline disposal services, barging is considered one of the safest and most cost-effective modes of transport. The company has received U.S. Coast Guard approval to transport oilfield waste products by barge on the in-land waterways.” (http://www.greenhunterresources.com/operations/greenhunter-water/barging/). The Coast Guard has repeatedly stated that approval has not been given, and that there is no timetable for approval of GreenHunter’s 2013 request that SGEWW be added to the register of lawful cargoes on inland waterways. Additionally, in a January 26, 2015 news release to investors, GreenHunter Resources, Inc.’s COO, Kirk Trosclair, stated, “While the increase in demand for services is an important component of our success, the improvement of increasing efficiencies at GreenHunter Resources is equally important. The U.S. Coast Guard approval is a significant ‘win’ for both GreenHunter Resources and our valued clients.” (http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20150126006576/en/GreenHunter-Resources-Operational-Update-Conference-Call#.VX4wpvlViko) A follow-up statement was then made to investors during a January 27, 2015 phone conference in which Gary Evans, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer at GreenHunter Resources, Inc., stated, “It took us two years, but we finally got U.S. Coast Guard approval to barge brine down the Ohio River and on inland waterways.” The phone conference audio file is accessible...

Letter to the Editor: Guernsey County Commissioners Asked to Refuse “Brine” Spreading

Letter to the Editor: Guernsey County Commissioners Asked to Refuse “Brine” Spreading

On May 6 at 9:30 am the Guernsey County Commissioners will hold a public hearing to consider the Kimble Company’s proposal to spread “brine” on the roads of Guernsey County for “ice and dust control.” What most people do not know is not only that the Kimble Company of Dover engages in conventional drilling, but also in waste disposal for the unconventional shale drilling industry (fracking). This is important, because another fact is that, according to Ohio Law, only “brine” from conventional drilling is allowed to be spread on the roads. There is good reason for this. Study after study has shown that “brine” (also called produced and flowback water) created by fracking is toxic and even radioactive. A recent study done by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection documented high levels of toxicity and radioactivity in “brine” created by the fracking industry. Because it is illegal to spread such “brine” on Ohio roads, how would anyone know the difference? Any county that has fracking that allows the spreading of “brine” on its road risks a serious public health threat because of runoff if frack waste gets into streams running into reservoirs and leaches into aquifers needed for drinking water. How could anyone guarantee that “brine” being spread is only from conventional drilling sources? Residents report seeing “brine” trucks with their valves open, leaking as they go down the road. Already, we could be seeing  illegal spreading of frack waste on our roads, bio-accumulating into our water supplies, threatening public health. The question that needs to be asked is – why is there a sudden need for the spreading of “brine” from conventional drilling, that has steeply declined in production, and how could anyone guarantee that the toxic and radioactive “brine” from fracking would not be spread instead?   Click here for the letter sent to the Commissioners...

FWAP Warns of Future Costs to Ohioans for Fracking Contamination

FWAP Warns of Future Costs to Ohioans for Fracking Contamination

April 2, 2015 Chief Rick Simmers ODNR 2045 Morse Rd. Bldg. F2 Columbus, OH 43229-6693 Dear Chief Simmers: We would like to bring to your attention the recent report from Earthworks stating that Ohio has being largely deficient in the regulation of the hazardous waste that is generated by the oil and gas industry, primarily from the process of horizontal hydraulic fracturing (fracking). A link to this report can be found at: http://www.earthworksaction.org/library/detail/wasting_away_full_report#.VR3EQ_nF-Sq We quote from this report in the bulleted points below about issues directly pertaining to Ohio and the lack of adequate regulations to protect Ohioans from harmful public health and environmental effects, as well as the huge costs that will be incurred by the Ohio taxpayer for environmental clean-up once the industry has fracked and disposed of its waste: The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) do not track or report volumes, origins, or destinations of solid waste (e.g., drill cuttings, muds, and fracturing sand).   Draft regulations do not include standards or limits related to waste storage and treatment methods, volumes, or chemical parameters, nor specify any practices (e.g., reserve pit burial or brine evaporation) that would be prohibited.   Ohio doesn’t require operators to conduct chemical testing of drill cuttings disposed of at well sites or verify that they are “uncontaminated” according to the law. State agencies only recommend that landfills obtain documentation from operators about the content of waste.   No public information is available on the number, location, or use of pits and impoundments. Ohio doesn’t have specific requirements for the construction and use of pits and impoundments. Draft changes to related regulations only request that operators use “sound engineering design and construction, and commonly accepted industry practices.”   In 2014, ODNR issued authorizations for 23 waste facilities to process oil and gas field waste using “Chief’s Orders” that circumvent public notification requirements and local government review. Even though companies in Ohio are pursuing projects to repurpose drill cuttings and other waste, Ohio doesn’t have any regulations on the “beneficial use” of oil and gas field waste.   Operators are prohibited from disposing of Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (TENORM)...