On November 19th, a group of Athens County residents wearing hazmat style suits, respirators, and carrying large placards emblazoned with skulls, blockaded the front gate of the Ginsburg Well, Class II injection well and a fracking waste disposal site, on Ladd Ridge Road in Athens County, Ohio. Protesters blocked the entrance to the well’s delivery pad. No trucks arrived to dump frack-waste while the protesters made their stand, successfully interrupting the day’s business.
Protesters demanded that the Ginsburg Well be shut down, citing numerous violations and shut down orders that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) has issued and then refused to enforce. The injection well is known to accept millions of gallons of radioactive fracking waste from out of state. The protesters noted that this week, the ODNR has issued 4 new well permits, 3 of them in SE Ohio, despite the fact that they are not regulating the wells currently in operation.
This action follows the action camp hosted by Appalachia Resist! which served as a training for an ever widening group of community members, including farmers, landowners, and families who want to join the resistance to injection wells and the fracking industry in Southeast Ohio. With community organizing and direct actions, Appalachia Resist! wants to make it clear to oil and gas industries that the Athens County region will not be an easy target for toxic dumping, and demand that the ODNR not dismiss residents’ concerns.
The oil and gas industry uses injection wells to dispose of waste water, which has a high salt content, as well as chemicals, heavy metals, and radioactive material. Much of the frack water produced in Pennsylvania gets trucked to Ohio, which has more disposal wells. Water can also be treated at private treatment facilities. The process cleans most of the water, but at least some smaller amount of fluid, or solid “cake,” still needs to be injected back into the ground, or taken to a landfill. Prior to 1985, operators were allowed to dispose of brine in the state’s waterways. (see, Deep Injection Wells: How Drilling Waste Is Disposed Underground)
Although residents continue to express concerns regarding the proposed Atha Well, it is up to the discretion of the ODNR’s Bob Zehringer to decide whether or not concerns are valid. According to Appalachia Resist, 100 people have sent letters to the ODNR, expressing detailed concern about health, safety, and conservation practices. The Athens County Commissioners have also written letters to the ODNR to address resident’s concerns.
Appalachia Resist! state in their press release, “Injection wells bring absolutely no benefit to SE Ohio. They bring tremendous risk to our health, safety, and livelihoods. The oil and gas industry and its captured agency, the ODNR, can expect more direct action and increased resistance from Appalachian Ohioans. We will do what it takes to keep our community safe”
“This agency may technically be within the law, but they are acting outside the bounds of professional ethics. Simply put, they are not doing their job.”
When the police arrived protesters dispersed upon request. There were no arrests.
ODNR has scheduled the open house for 6 p.m. Wednesday, at its Division of Wildlife offices at 360 E. State St, as stated in The Athens News.
“An ‘open house’ is no substitute for a public hearing,” says a release referred to by The Athens News. “At a public hearing, residents bring their concerns publicly before ODNR and all assembled, speaking one at a time in an organized fashion so that every comment can be heard by all. Most importantly, at a public hearing, public comments are entered into the legal record and can thus help hold ODNR accountable to the public.”
By contrast, the release alleges, at an open house citizens “are asked to mill around a large room, talking to various ODNR representatives in a casual one-on-one manner,” and comments don’t become part of legal record, “so ODNR cannot be held accountable to objections raised.”
For Press Inquiries, Contact Appalachia Resist!:
Phone: 740 591 2693
Compiled by SabiTaj Mahal, Earth First! Journal Collective