Group files suit against Ohio Department of Natural Resources

News Release

For immediate release

June 20th, 2018

Group files suit against Ohio Department of Natural Resources

BEN Public Records Case vs. ODNR

Contacts: 

Teresa Mills, ED, Buckeye Environmental Network, Executive Director, tmills@benohio.org Phone: 614-539-1471

Attorney Richard Sahli, rsahliattorney@columbus.rr.com   Phone: 614-428-6068

Roxanne Groff, Buckeye Environmental Network Board Chair, Roxannegroff1227@gmail.com  Phone: 740-707-3610

Columbus, OH. Buckeye Environmental Network (BEN) has filed a lawsuit against the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) for withholding critical public information, violating Ohio law. Under public records law ORC 149.43, Ohio Department of Natural Recourses should have granted, but instead denied, a file review request by the group’s Executive Director of ODNR files on AquaSalina, a product of oil and gas waste. The group requested to review all records held by ODNR as follows. “1. Records held by your agency regarding Nature’s Own Sources/AquaSalina. 2. Communication between your agency and Dave Mansbery, owner of Duck Creek Energy, Inc.”

https://files.acrobat.com/a/preview/9aa5f6b6-61c0-4375-bda0-292fbc0e67f8

ODNR Public Record Policy and Procedure (7)(e), Availability of Records, reads as follows: “Public records will be made available for inspection during regular business hours. Public records must be made available for inspection promptly. Copies of public records must be made available within a reasonable period of time. ‘Prompt’ and ‘reasonable’ take into account the volume of records requested; the form of the requested records; the proximity of the location where the records are stored; and the necessity for any pre-release review of the records requested. If a requester wishes to review public records in person, public records will be made available for inspection during regular business hours with an appointment.”

 “What is the agency trying to hide from the public,” asked Teresa Mills, Executive Director of BEN. “We requested to review all records held by the agency in order to determine how and if the agency plans to take steps to remove this product from the consumer market.  The product was found to contain high levels of both Radium 226 and 228. And with the pending legislation (House Bill 393 and Senate Bill 165) on this product, we believe that the public has a right to know how much radiation they have been or may be exposed to if they use this product.”

Scientific evidence increasingly shows that spreading of conventional oil and gas waste on roads for deicing and dust suppression is not a good thing. In fact, according to an article by State Impact Pennsylvania (6/1/18), the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is apparently ending the permitting of the treatment of roads with so-called “brine.”  The agency had been sued by a resident, according to the report.[i] 

Rick Sahli, the attorney filing the lawsuit on BEN’s behalf, stated, “A request like this should have been acted upon routinely and within just a few days.  Having it denied by the state's puffed up and absurd language should concern all Ohioans, especially as a serious issue of public health is involved.  ODNR has no objective here except delay."

BEN board chair and former Athens County Commissioner, Roxanne Groff, stated, “ODNR is clearly circumventing Ohio law and providing yet another example of its thwarting of citizen efforts to obtain important Information from our regulatory agencies. The game of obfuscation and the agency’s lack of transparency on matters of public safety and health are unconscionable and must cease.”                                                                                 

[i] “The Department of Environmental Protection, which for years allowed municipalities to treat their roads with brine, said last week it was ending the practice, after it was sued by a Warren County resident.” [Excerpt from WSKG, “Study Finds Health Threats Posed by Oil and Gas Wastewater Sprayed on Roads,” by Reid Frazier, June 1, 2018, State Impact Pennsylvania at: https://wskg.org/news/study-finds-health-threats-posed-by-oil-and-gas-wastewater-sprayed-on-roads/

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Fracking-related Impacts are getting worse...

News release

For Immediate Release:  June 14, 2018

Buckeye Environmental Network,  www.buckeyeenvironmentalnetwork.org

Contact: Teresa Mills: Phone: 614-507-4406 or e-mail: tmills@benohio.org

Or Roxanne Groff e-mail: Roxannegroff1227@gmail.com

______________________________________________________

Fracking-related impacts are getting worse say Ohioans who are getting the attention of an international panel of judges: Judges of the Rome, Italy–based Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal released their preliminary statement on fracking and human rights

COLUMBUS, Ohio, June 14, 2018—In Ohio and elsewhere, man-made earthquakes linked to injection wells, air pollution, water contamination, fires and evacuations and harms to individuals have resulted from fracking, injection wells, or related processes and infrastructure, 

       And it’s getting worse, say many impacted Ohio residents and groups opposed to the fracking industry.

       For years, Ohioans and others around the world have been telling the public and their governments why fracking must be stopped due to an alarming, increasing number of adverse effects to public health, safety, and human rights.  Now, these grassroots advocates have reached an international audience to hear their pleas.

       The internationally recognized Human Rights Opinion Tribunal, based in Rome, Italy, and known as the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal heard evidence and testimony regarding human rights infringements, fracking, and climate change in its online proceeding held from May 14 to May 18, 2018.[1]   

       According to the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) preliminary statement:

       “The evidence clearly demonstrates that the processes of fracking contribute substantially to anthropogenic harm, including climate change and global warming, and involve massive violations of a range of substantive and procedural human rights and the rights of nature.  Thus the industry has failed to fulfill its legal and moral obligations. The evidence also shows that governments have, in general, failed in their responsibility to regulate the industry so as to protect people, communities, and nature… ” [2]

       That an internationally recognized human rights opinion Tribunal has heard and understood the message of these grassroots activists is welcome news to many. 

       How did Ohioans achieve international attention on human rights violations and fracking?  Ohioans joined efforts with other across America and the world with similar grievances.

       “Every day the amount of evidence increases, which shows that fracking and related processes cause unacceptable impacts to human rights and public health and safety.  It must stop now.  The heavy industrial operations are frequently alarmingly near family homes. State governments are failing to protect the health and safety of their residents,” said Teresa Mills who is on the steering committee of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal based in Washington state and is executive director of the Buckeye Environmental Network.

       Teresa Mills helped to coordinate two citizen pre-Tribunals in Ohio – first in Athens, the other in Youngstown.  Among the distinguished local panels of pre-Tribunal judges was famed environmental justice activist Lois Gibbs, of Love Canal renown and founder of the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice.

       Written and video evidence and testimony from the two local pre-Tribunals was shared with the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal and will be considered by PPT human rights judges for their final report.

Local Ohio adverse human rights and health and safety impacts, including potential future man-made earthquakes that could take place due to fracking waste injection wells, was the subject of one presentation by Attorney Richard Sahli to an international panel of PPT jurors and can be seen at the following URL:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBjGpVDDBW8

       To see compelling video testimony of the pre-Tribunals held in Youngstown and Athens see:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjX37fDwrKhnK3qeBGywReA/videos?disable_polymer=1

       The next step will be the issuance of the final report by the PPT judges in the fall of 2018.

       “We feel relieved and grateful that our grievances were heard and broadcast far and wide, but now real changes must continue to be made to protect residents.  That is the right and fair thing to do.  We are optimistic that the PPT will help gain protection for the human rights of all involved,” said Roxanne Groff, Athens County Fracking Action Network.

       More information on the PPT can be found at:   www.tribunalonfracking.org

       Videos of the May 14 to May 18, 2018 proceedings can be found at:

  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLoQiVlgxwVDIW4nLcC1_-A/videos?disable_polymer=1

       For more information or media inquiries, please see:

http://www.buckeyeenvironmentalnetwork.org/ben-tribunals-3/

Notes:

[1]  For more information on the history of the PPT and more see: https://www.tribunalonfracking.org/

And:

Documents, videos, evidence and other important information related to the session can be found at the following website. The Peoples’ Permanent Tribunal on Human Rights, Fracking, and Climate Change https://www.tribunalonfracking.org/this-session-is-historic/

[2]  “Session on Human Rights, Fracking and Climate change: the preliminary statement of the PPT” (Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal), page 3.

http://permanentpeoplestribunal.org/session-on-human-rights-fracking-and-climate-change-the-preliminary-statement-of-the-ppt/?lang=en  

Hearing Digs Deep into Coal-mine Issue: Supporters and Opponents Speak during EPA Hearing

By: Kayla Beard

Dozens of concerned area residents gathered at Burr Oak State Park Lodge Thursday evening to comment on a draft permit that would allow a coal-mining company to dump chemical waste from its proposed strip and surface mine in Trimble Township into nearby Johnson Run.

Most of the comments opposed the mining plan, though some supported it.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held the public hearing to receive input on a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit application submitted by Oxford Mining Company of Coshocton.

If approved, the permit will allow the nearly 300-acre mine to discharge wastewater into Johnson Run from five sediment ponds, which collect runoff from the strip mine area, spoil piles, topsoil piles, haul road and non-paved parking area, according to a state EPA news release issued Feb. 1.

According to the news release, the proposed project could result in a change in current water quality conditions but “does not authorize any violation of Ohio’s water-quality standards that protect human health and the environment.” EPA permit reviewer Scott Foster gave a brief presentation explaining some of the permit details at the start of Thursday’s meeting, after which he and two other “technical permit reviewers” answered questions from the audience.

Permit reviewer Eric Nygaard explained that “water-quality issues” are defined by state EPA standards based on current pH levels and chemical concentrations in the waterways. “We look at what the (waste) discharge would need to be to meet water-quality standards in those streams,” Nygaard said. “We then compare that to the data that we’ve got… and say OK, are those water quality numbers going to be exceeded?”.

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A Toxic Tour Through Underground Ohio:

 By: Justin Nobel

A booming injection well industry is pumping toxic waste deep into the earth in Ohio’s rural towns.

We begin with a glass of wine on the wraparound porch of Michele Garman, who lives with her husband Tom and teenage son Dominic in the rural Ohio community of Vienna. Just 200 feet from the family’s house is a narrow shaft that the oil and gas industry uses to pump waste riddled with toxic chemicals deep into the earth, one of Ohio’s 217 active Class II injection wells. “I still enjoy sitting out on my porch,” says Garman, “but it was a lot more enjoyable before the scenery changed.”

The small white and maroon trucks that deliver the waste often come at night, she says. They contain what regulatory agencies innocently refer to as produced water, or brine, a slurry generated during fracking operations that can contain more than 1,100 chemicals and which is carcinogenic, flammable, and radioactive. Garman says she and her son occasionally smell, “a sweet odor in the air, almost like antifreeze.” One night last winter an alarm went off. “There was a red light and a real low siren,” she says, “and no one to call to see what was going on.”

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