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.”

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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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