State Rep. Antonio Calls on ODNR to Test Toxic Frack Waste

State Representative Nickie J. Antonio joined with other concerned citizens and wrote a letter to the Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Director and Staff calling on the agency to carry out testing of “brine”, as they have the authority to test.  “Brine” is the waste water from the hydro-fracturing process.

According to a report of the recent sampling of “brine” from the Hazel-Ginsberg injection well, the results show the sample contains high levels of alpha particles, arsenic, barium, and toluene, among other contaminants. The test was performed by Ben Stout, professor of biology at Wheeling Jesuit University and not ODNR.  Rep. Antonio is asking ODNR to start testing all “brine” and if the fluid is shown to be harmful to people it should be labeled a hazardous waste.  Pennsylvania hauls its fracked waste water to Ohio to dispose of in Ohio’s injection wells while ODNR receives 20 cents per gallon of “brine” for allowing them to dump it here.

The letter calls on ODNR for stewardship to ensure safety and the health of our environment.  “This is a public health concern which you have the responsibility and the authority to protect with regard to the environmental threats to the community health and wellbeing,” said Rep. Antonio. “As a state agency you should uphold transparency and public safety above all else.”

 A copy of the letter can be seen below:

July 11, 2012 

James Zehringer
ODNR, Director
2045 Morse Rd, Building D
Columbus, OH 43229-6693

Dear Director Zehringer:

I write today to respectfully request the Department of Natural Resources to test all “brine” waste water from the hydro-fracturing process.  According to a report of the recent sampling of brine from the Hazel-Ginsburg injection well by Ben Stout, biology professor at Wheeling Jesuit University, the results have shown the sample contains hazardous materials.  My understanding is that this is the first ever testing of “brine” by an outside source.  “Brine” is chemical laden produced “water” which is the end result of horizontal fracturing otherwise known as fracking.  As a public health precaution, “brine” should always be tested to determine the chemical components of the fluid before injecting it into a well in the earth. 

It should be noted that, Pennsylvania currently is hauling its fracked waste water to Ohio to dispose of in Ohio’s injection wells.  They are paying more than one million dollars a year to dump their waste here as they do not allow it in their own state.  As more wells in our Ohio are horizontally fracked, it is imperative to test brine before putting it into the earth again.

As you are aware, ODNR has authority to order testing of brine before it is injected under section 1509.06 of the Ohio Revised Code.  As your role is to carry out the testing of brine to protect Ohioans from pollutants that could harm them, the citizens of Ohio expect nothing less.  After testing, if any brine waste fluid is shown to be harmful to people it should then be labeled a hazardous waste.  Hazardous waste is dangerous and potentially harmful to our health or the environment. Hazardous wastes can be liquids, solids, gases, or sludges. They can be discarded commercial products, like cleaning fluids or pesticides, or the by-products of manufacturing processes.  This will ensure that if there is a spill or leak the proper procedures will be in place to remedy the situation.  This is a public health concern which you have the responsibility and the authority to protect with regard to the environmental threats to the community health and wellbeing.  As a state agency you should uphold transparency and public safety above all else.

The people of Ohio depend on your stewardship of Department of Natural Resources to ensure the safety and health of our environment now and in the future, and so I urge your action on this matter sooner than later. I appreciate your consideration and would also appreciate your timely response to this request.

Sincerely,

Nickie J. Antonio
State Representative
House District 13

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