The pretrial and rally for the Athens 8 has been pushed back to Monday March 24th at 8am at the Athens Municipal Court. The Athens 8 were arrested for blocking fracking waste from entering an injection well owned by K&H Partners of West Virginia near Torch, Ohio on February 1st, 2014.
An event to celebrate Appalachian Activism and raise funds for the Athens 8s’ legal fees is being planned. It will feature a community potluck with live music and speakers—tentative date is Sat March 22, 5-8 pm at the Dairy Barn! Stay tuned for details. You can also donate to the legal fees by going to https://www.wepay.com/donations/9881
Donation button is to your right!
Eight farmers and local business leaders blocked the driveway leading to a fracking waste disposal site operated by K&H Partners of West Virginia. The blockade was supported by more than 150 Torch, Coolville, and Athens Ohio residents.
All eight were arrested by the Athens County Sheriff’s Office and charged with trespassing. Please donate to help with their legal fees.
The 8 farmers and local food business leaders who were arrested Saturday Feb. 1, 2014 for blocking the entrance to K&H Partners of West Virginia injection well storage site plead not guilty 2/4/14 to trespassing charges. The pretrial is set for Monday Feb. 24th, 2014 at 8am in the Athens Ohio City Building on Washington Street.
Eight farmers and local foods business leaders blocked the driveway of an injection site that receives nearly 3000 barrels of frack waste per day. The eight held a banner reading “Our Water, Our Lives! Their Poison, Their Lies!” and stopped commerce for much of a business day. At least two trucks carrying toxic frack waste were unable to enter the site.
The blockade was supported by more than 150 Torch, Coolville, and Athens residents including many families with children. The rally focused on the theme “OUR WATER, OUR LIVES, THEIR POISON, THEIR LIES”. Participants spoke out about the lack of local control over injection well permitting, water contamination with toxic chemicals, and the need for more responsible oversight by ODNR and elected officials.
The site is operated by K&H partners of West Virginia. The eight were released saturday night after being arrested and charged with trespassing.
Currently the Troy Township site contains a single Class II injection well and associated waste tanks; the current well injects an average of 2,098 barrels of toxic frack waste per day. A second proposed well at the site would receive an additional 4,000 barrels per day. The injection site is located 1.7 miles from the Hocking, 2.2 miles from the Ohio River, and 2.2 miles from Coolville Elementary School. 53% of this waste will come from other states with stronger regulations than Ohio.
In December, the Athens City Council and the Athens County Commissioners voted unanimously to oppose the permitting of the second well. After the ODNR ignored this vote and granted the permit anyway, the Athens County Fracking Action Network has appealed the permit. The eight arrestees and their supporters called for K&H and the ODNR to revoke the permit and called for local control over injection wells. The majority of Athens County residents oppose injection wells.
Ralliers also cited the recent Freedom Enterprises spill in West Virginia as a reminder to prevent similar disasters in other Appalachian communities.
Support Rally at the Athens County Courthouse Monday 2/3/14 at 9:15 AM at the arraignment of the eight farmers and local business leaders who were arrested for blocking frack waste trucks from entering an injection well disposal site operated by K&H Partners of West Virginia on Saturday. Those arrested include: Kip Rondy, owner of Green Edge Farms; Michelle Ajamian, owner of Shagbark Seed and Mill; Christine Hughes, owner of the Village Bakery; local pastor Smiles Welch, Liz Florentino, Caprice Huffman, Timothy Fultz, and Sean Pavlac, all of Athens County.
RALLY AGAINST INJECTION WELLS!
SOUTHEAST OHIO IS NOT A SACRIFICE ZONE!NO MORE FRACK WASTE!NO MORE INJECTION WELLS!
Three million people get their water from the Ohio River, and further downstream, millions more rely on drinking water from the Mississippi. If the Coast Guard’s proposed policy is approved, barges carrying 10,000 barrels of fracking wastewater would float downstream from northern Appalachia to Ohio, Texas and Louisiana.
Environmentalists say a spill could be disastrous, because the wastewater would contaminate drinking water and the complicated brew of contaminants in fracking waste, which include corrosive salts and radioactive materials, would be nearly impossible to clean up.
The billions of gallons of wastewater from fracking represent one of the biggest bottlenecks for the shale gas industry.
States atop the Marcellus shale are brimming with the stuff. Traditionally, oil and gas wastewater is disposed by pumping it underground using wastewater disposal wells, but the underground geology of northeastern states like Pennsylvania makes this far more difficult than in states like Texas, and Ohio has suffered a spate of earthquakes that federal researchers concluded were linked to these wastewater wells. The volumes of water used by drillers for the current shale gas boom are unprecedented.
During fracking, millions of gallons of water are mixed with chemicals and sand and blasted into underground shale rock layers to shatter the rock and release minute pockets of trapped natural gas and other fossil fuels like propane or oil. The precise chemicals used in any given well can vary widely, and drillers are not required to tell the public what’s in the specific mix — plus the water picks up corrosive salts, naturally occurring radioactive materials and reactive metals like strontium and barium.
After wastewater returns to the surface from a fracked well, it is collected in large open pits or in tanks. In Pennsylvania, a single wastewater lagoon, the Jon Day Impoundment outside Washington, PA, can hold 13 to 15 million gallons of fracking wastewater. In West Virginia, another pit can hold 18.2 million gallons.
All that water has to go somewhere; state regulations don’t allow it to sit there forever. Less than ten percent of water used in fracking is ultimately “recycled,” or filtered and used to frack another gas well, a recent report from San Jose State University concluded. Some of the water injected remains underground in the shale rock itself, but the rest of it flows back to the surface and must be disposed.
The Coast Guard’s plan would allow companies to ship this wastewater via barge to disposal sites downstream.
“Waterways are the least costly way of transporting it,” James McCarville, executive director of the Port of Pittsburgh Commission, which advocates for waterway transport, told PublicSource. “We look forward to being able to get the trucks off the highways as quickly as possible.”
Barges have a stronger safety record than trucks or trains, proponents argue.
Barge companies had one spill of 1,000 gallons or more for every 39,404 ton-miles, a Texas Transportation Institute report found in 2012. Trucks average one such spill per 8,555 ton-miles and on average, trains had one spill every 58,591 ton-miles.
But opponents say there’s a crucial difference: trucks and trains usually spill onto land, but a barge would send wastewater directly into the river.
“If and when there’s a spill, that can’t be cleaned up,” said Benjamin Stout, a biology professor at Wheeling Jesuit University, about 60 miles southwest of Pittsburgh. “That means it’s going to be in the drinking-water supply of millions of people.”
When barges get into accidents, the leaks tend to be much larger than a tanker truck spill. On January 27, two barges crashed into a bridge on the Mississippi river, causing an oil spill from a ruptured fuel tank carrying 80,000 gallons of light sweet crude and leading to a partial shutdown of the lower Mississippi’s shipping traffic and a backup of over 800 barges.
And with an oil spill, regulators have some tools to stop the spill from spreading. Not so with fracking wastewater.
“Nobody has figured out what the safe thing is to do if fracking water gets in our drinking water,” Tom Hoffman, Western Pennsylvania director of the environmental group Clean Water Action, told local reporters.
Shippers acknowledge there is a difference between a tanker full of one chemical and a barge full of shale gas waste. “Gasoline is gasoline, chlorine is chlorine. You know what you’re getting. But frackwater is going to be different company by company and well by well,” Peter Stephaich, chairman and CEO of Washington County-based Campbell Transportation Co, told the Pittsburgh Tribune Review.
The Coast Guard’s proposal would require shippers to test each shipment, so they know what each barge holds. But the plan contains a key loophole — if a fracking formula is labeled a trade secret, it will not need to be disclosed. “[T]he identity of proprietary chemicals may be withheld from public release,” the Coast Guard’s policy states.
“All they have to do is say ‘proprietary information’ and they don’t have to do anything” to make information available to the public, Prof. Stout told PublicSource, which has reported on the proposal in-depth.
Those living downstream from one major shipping company GreenHunter Water, which has nearly completed a new terminal to ship shale wastewater by barge, remain nervous. City Councilwoman Gloria Delbrugge told local reporters she is not happy about the new plant in her town. GreenHunter Water is 1.2 miles upstream from the city of Wheeling’s drinking water treatment plant.
“I won’t be there to cut the ribbon for them,” Ms. Delbrugge said in mid-October. “I don’t like them, I don’t want them and I don’t trust them.”
The Coast Guard’s policy would turn a blind eye to spills, but it acknowledges some difficulties posed by radioactive materials in shale wastewater, focusing on the possible harm to barge workers.
Radium and uranium are present at low levels in fracking wastewater, but these elements are naturally attracted to barium and strontium — which just so happen to also be found in the briny waste. Barium and strontium tend to accumulate on metal surfaces — a problem so common that the oil and gas industry has given the flaky build-up a name: “pipe scale.” These scales of barium and strontium can make pipes so radioactive that they are no longer safe to handle. The same thing could happen, the Coast Guard plan suggests, to barges.
GreenHunter officials have said that the levels of radioactivity are extremely low.
It is true that the naturally occurring radioactive materials in a given gallon of frackwater are low. But if enough shale wasterwater flows past a certain point, the low levels of radioactivity can start to accumulate.
For example, a recent Duke University study tested riverbed soils downstream from one wastewater plant and measured radiation levels 200 times of those detected in water samples upstream. “The radioactivity levels we found in sediments near the outflow are above management regulations in the U.S. and would only be accepted at a licensed radioactive disposal facility,” said professor Robert B. Jackson said in a press release.
These levels have caught the attention of Coast Guard officials. “The Coast Guard is concerned that, over time, sediment and deposits with radioisotopes may accumulate on the inside of the barge tank surface and may pose a health risk to personnel entering the tank,” the proposed plan says, adding that they plan to focus on how long workers will be exposed to radioactivity, and the levels likely to be found in the barge’s wastewater tanks. But nothing is said about what would happen to the radioactive materials in the event of spills.
With many complex questions left unanswered, critics say the Coast Guard has given the public and independent experts too little time to weigh in on its proposed policy.
“I’m a little disappointed to hear there’s only a 30-day public comment period,” Clean Water Action’s Steve Hvozdovich said. “Thirty days is not sufficient in my mind.”
Others say the problem is actually the amount of waste generated by the industry and that no matter how it’s transported, it remains a problem.
“Transporting drilling waste by truck leads to increased air pollution, risks accidents and spills, puts undue pressure on local roads and infrastructure,” Erika Staaf of PennEnvironment told the Associated Press, but “transporting this waste by barge in our nations rivers is unnecessarily risky.”
The public comment period ends November 29.
Comments can be filed in three ways: 1) Go to www.regulations.gov; 2) Fax comments to 202-493-2251; or 3) Mail them to Docket Management Facility (M-30), U.S. Department of Transportation, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE., Washington, D.C. 20590-0001. All comments must include the docket number, USCG-2013-0915.
Sample letter created by the Delaware Riverkeeper Network: https://secure3.convio.net/scnj/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=1271
Photo Credit: Picture of a Large Barge, Via Shutterstock
Direct action is a vital and empowering tool for change. It has
played an important role in social and environmental justice movements around the world. Direct action is used by all kinds of people from all walks of life. This Nonviolent Direct Action Training is great for: People who have participated in direct action and would like to share skills and get more training! People who have never participated in direct action and would like to learn more about it! Activists who want to add direct action to their strategy! People who want to learn what direct action is! People who are curious! Whatever your background or experience level, we welcome you to this workshop! This workshop will use hands on activities, games, and discussion to introduce people to the basics of direct action including sections on knowing your rights and jail and legal support. Snacks will be provided, and you may want to bring a sack lunch as well. The workshop is free of charge. Please wear comfortable clothes.
Ohio River Fracking Disaster Predicted
GreenHunter Energy plans to barge fracking waste down the Ohio River, and to build a new frack waste transfer facility in Wheeling, West Virginia. it seems that in response the legendary Mothman has returned. The Mothman, whose original appearance over forty years ago in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, coincided with a tragic bridge collapse there, is thought to be a harbinger of imminent disaster. Recently, the Mothman has been seen by several people who live near the Ohio River in Athens and Meigs Counties. Residents have reported strange visitations by a “man-sized bird creature with a nearly ten foot wing span” while investigating the effect that a radioactive frack waste spill would have on the Ohio River, which is the primary drinking water source for more than five million people. Athens County resident Peter Ballew says, “I was reading about how Greenhunter is $9.1 million in debt and thinking about how they’re going to have to cut corners in that Wheeling facility, when all of a sudden I looked up and saw this large shadowy thing with red eyes.” Sarah Fick of Meigs County had a similar experience. “I was planning the Appalachia Resist! leg of the Great Ohio River Relay when I felt this wind at my back – I looked up and saw this towering flying man-size figure with ten-foot wings! I’d heard of the Mothman but never thought I’d see him. I know he predicted disasters around Point Pleasant a long time ago. I’m convinced he’s back to warn us about the dangers of barging frack waste on the river. Congress should never have allowed Hallibuton to get that stuff exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act.” Fick found out that another person she knows had a similar experience. Madeline ffitch was reading an email from the Buckeye Forest Council about Ohio having already injected 7,892,815,182 gallons of toxic frack waste, most from out of state, when she saw the huge creature. “It was about seven feet tall with huge wings and red eyes. I ran, but the thing was way faster than me. I could see the creature flapping its wings, and I think it was trying to tell me that if GreenHunter is allowed to barge all that out of state fracking wate there is going to be a disaster even worse that bridge collapse that killed all those people back in ’67.” Ballew, ffitch, and Fick all say they have a premonition that if GreenHunter builds the frack waste facility in Wheeling, the drinking water of five million people will be polluted with toxic, radioactive frack waste and that to make matters worse, GreenHunter won’t be able to pony up the money to treat the water or the people who are poisoned.