Crissa Cummings accepted a plea deal yesterday morning for shutting down the K&H Partners injection well site on June 5, 2014. She received a $250 fine and 30 days of jail time which is suspended as long as she remains law abiding for one year. Recent analysis of the testing done on the contaminants reveal that ODNR only tested for secondary water contaminants in the spill that resulted in the contamination of at least 12 tons of water and soil during the drilling of a 2nd K&H Partners injection well near Torch, Ohio.
Pretrial Wednesday July 16th at 8 am
Supporters are welcome to attend the pretrial to lend support to Crissa Cummings, who was charged with criminal trespass for chaining shut the gates at K&H Partners injection well in Torch, Ohio on June 5th. The pretrial will take place on the 2nd floor of the Athens Municipal Courthouse, 8 E Washington St #201, Athens, OH 45701
Crissa Cummings is due in court Thursday June 19th @ 8 AM on criminal trespass charges for shutting down the K&H Partners injection well site on June 5, 2014. It is unlikely anything will be decided at this court appearance, so we are holding off on organizing a rally. Crissa shut down K&H upon learning that in January, during the drilling of K&H2, there was a spill into a creek that resulted in the contamination of at least 12 tons of water and soil, along with documentation that calls into question the integrity of the well. Supporters are welcome to attend the pretrial.
TORCH, OHIO – An Athens County resident has barricaded the gates of a frack-waste transfer station near the rest area off of HWY 50. No trucks can enter or leave the site, and K&H injection well operations are effectively stopped for the business day. Crissa Cummings, age 42 of Millfield has locked herself to the gate, charging that the recently drilled K&H 2 injection well is operating unsafely. Cummings noted that ODNR reports show that more than 12 tons of contaminated soil and water have been removed from the site since January, and that 410 feet of cement casing has been lost down the injection well shaft, signifying a potentially dangerous situation. “In light of the recent studies that have linked fracking chemicals to birth defects, I feel sick when I think about all the babies and the pregnant friends that were protesting at this site in February, a couple of weeks after the brine spill,” says Cummings.
A banner has been placed over the gates that reads “12 TONS OF SOIL AND WATER CONTAMINATED. K&H2 NOT SAFE”. Supporters wearing white hazmat style suits and ventilator masks are gathering, holding signs and chanting. Cummings herself is wearing a ventilator, noting that at least 4 workers have died since 2010 from exposure to frack waste, which contains high rates of benzene and other chemicals that can sicken people and be fatal when inhaled. Cummings says, “When a community says it does not want injection wells because we don’t believe they are safe, and our public servants ignore the desires of the public and our locally elected officials, the only recourse left to us is to use our bodies to stop the toxic frack waste from being injected into these dangerous wells.”
Peggy Gish, 71, who was an organic farmer in Athens County for more than 30 years, sits alongside Crissa occupying the space in front of the gate. Gish also plans to remain as long as possible. Of her action, Gish says, “I do this because I care about the health and safety of the people living in this region and for future generations who also want clean water, air, and land. Energy companies should not be allowed to make huge profits at the expense of the health and safety of the local people.”
8 people were arrested at this same location earlier this year for protesting the injection of radioactive toxic fracking waste in Athens County, after the ODNR ignored hundreds of public comments as well as the objections of the Athens County Commissioners,.
Through a records request, community members have found ODNR reports showing that in January 2014, the drill rig at the K&H 2 unexpectedly hit saltwater and gas. When the pit overflowed with the fluid, a nearby creek was contaminated. After well operators initially attempted to build a containment wall with the contaminated soil, the company was told to remove up to 20 tons of contaminated soil and water.
Also during January, ODNR reports show that approximately 410 feet (or 200 bags) of cement disappeared down the well shaft during well construction. Though this signifies probable cracks and fissures in the surrounding rock into which the cement may be leaking, neither K&H Partners nor ODNR has completed an adequate follow up investigation.
The local community, including the Athens County commissioners, has repeatedly called for proper seismic testing and geologic characterization at the K&H site. The ODNR has ignored these demands. Now, the accidental spill, coupled with the enormous loss of cement brings up serious concerns about possible contamination of the aquifer. ACFAN and Appalachia Resist! have recently submitted a complaint about the K&H 2 to the federal EPA, charging that the problems and the conduct at the K&H 2 site constitute violations of Ohio Revised Codes 1501:9-1-07, and 1501:9-1-08, which concern prevention of contamination, and safety of well construction, as well as a violation of the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act.
Crissa and Peggy held the space and stopped injection well operations for most of the business day. Crissa was charged with trespassing and released on her own recognizance. Her arraignment and support rally are scheduled for 9am tomorrow (Friday June 6th) at the City Building in Athens. Please stay tuned to our YouTube Channel for videos of today’s action currently being uploaded.
UPDATE: Friday June 6, 3PM
Crissa was arraigned and the pre-trial was set for Monday June 19th at 8am. Feel free to join us to rally in her support. See also, NBC4’s coverage of yesterday’s action here. As well as the print media coverage from the AthensNEWS, The Athens Messenger, and the Akron Beacon Journal.
K&H 2 Frack Waste Injection Well: Not Safe!
12 Tons of Contaminated Soil and Water:
- During K&H2 construction in January, the drillers accidentally hit fluid as they drilled through the sandstone formation.
- The pit took on fluid containing saltwater and gas which overflowed to the surface and leaked into a nearby stream.
- The Ohio EPA Spill Response Team had to be called.
- K&H had to remove at least 12 tons of contaminated soil and water from the site. At that time, the well was found to be in violation.
400 Feet of Missing Cement:
- In January, during construction of the K&H2, 210 bags of cement were “lost” down the hole as the well was drilled. This almost certainly means that there are cracks or fissures in the well pit, and that the cement was pushed out into these fissures as it was poured.
- Instead of investigating where the cement was going, or consulting with a geologist or engineer, the K&H company, under the oversight of the ODNR, just kept pouring cement down the hole until they finally filled it up.
- Missing Cement means cracks or fissures. Cracks or fissures could mean lack of integrity in the well structure.
Athens community members and the Athens County Commissioners called repeatedly for proper seismic and geologic testing to be done before the K&H 2 was drilled. Such testing was never done. Now, the loss of so much cement down the well shaft, coupled with the recent spill, and the accidental hitting drilling into saltwater and gas indicates dangerous problems with this well. If the well is leaking, the aquifer could become contaminated. Groundwater contamination, especially from frack waste, is very difficult if not impossible to address and can destroy underground sources of drinking.
Frack Waste Injection Wells: Not Safe!
Fracking Chemicals and Birth Defects:
- Recent studies show that fracking waste can cause birth defects.
- A recent study shows that mothers living near fracking wells have a 30% increased likelihood of having a baby with congenital heart defects.
- The same study shows that an increased likelihood of neurological birth defects are also likely for mothers living near fracking sites.
- Sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and benzene, all chemicals released during fracking, are known to cause birth defects.
- A recent study found that a mother’s proximity to fracking increased the likelihood of her baby having a low birth weight from about 5.6 percent to more than 9 percent.
- The same study showed that newborn children who live near fracking sites are twice as likely to have a low Apgar score (which is a summary measure of the health of newborns) than children who don’t live near fracking sites.
Call the ODNR!
Chief of Oil and Gas Division: Rick Simmers: 614 265 6922
Underground Injection Control: Tom Tomastik: 614 265 1032
Demand that the ODNR:
- Investigate the loss of cement and the spill at the K&H 2.
- End its unethical financial connection to the oil and gas industry. This is a conflict of interest.
- Protect Athens County families’ access to clean water, instead of doing the bidding of the oil and gas industry.
- Stop ignoring the voices of Athens County residents and our local county commissioners.
- Stop permitting new injection wells in our county.
Athens County residents do not stand to benefit from injection wells. They do not bring jobs or economic gains. However, while we have nothing to gain from these wells, we have everything to lose: These wells pose a threat to our water, our air, and the lives and health of our families and our children.
More information about frack waste injection wells:
To find out how to get involved in stopping injection wells in our community, please contact: email@example.com
The Eight farmers and local business leaders, who were charged with criminal trespass for blocking trucks carrying fracking waste leading to a fracking waste disposal site operated by K&H Partners of West Virginia in early February, all took a plea deals this morning in Athens County Municipal Court. The eight plead to a lower charge of disorderly conduct, a minor misdemeanor, and received a $150 fine, $100 of which was suspended. 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, Smiles Welch, a local pastor, Sean Pavlac, Timothy Fultz, Caprice Huffman and Liz Florentino.
Kip Rondy read the following statement at the hearing:
“Your Honor, we, the persons now before the Court, are persons of reason who have done all that we could within the statute of the law to prevent the destruction of our natural, economic and social environment. The Commissioners of Athens County, as well as the City Council of Athens Ohio, have unanimously enacted a resolution opposing the development of an additional injection well at the K&H site. K&H at present is daily injection 2,100 barrels of toxic, radioactive waste at its location in Troy Township. Much of that said waste is being generated by out-of-state fracking operations. The new proposed injection well at the K&H facility will allow for the disposal of an additional 4,000 barrels of waste, daily. Despite appeals form the citizenry of the Athens community, the aforementioned actions of both the elected county and city officials, documented earthquakes, and other significant environmental damage at other injection well sites within the boundaries of the state of Ohio, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has proven to be unresponsive in addressing these community concerns. ODNR has failed in its duty as protectorate of the citizenry and the resources delegated to them by statute. The ODNR has failed to hold public hearings concerning the proposed injection well, ignored and denied lawful information requests, and continues to act in a capricious and arbitrary manner concerning the citizen’s stated objections. It is then, when we the Citizenry of Athens county, facing the real and permanent threat to our aquifer, our air, our earth – when the will of lawfully elected officials is ignored – that the acts of civil disobedience before the court today are not merely justified, but become obligatory. Citizens so informed must, at some level, engage in civil disobedience on behalf of themselves, future generations, and society at large.”
A support rally led by the Activist Choir followed the sentencing near the steps of the Athens County courthouse.
Christine Hughes is one of the Athens 8 who 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.