Many of you have seen or heard about Tuppers Plains water District Manager Don Poole’s letter to the ODNR expressing concerns over our water supplies becoming contaminated by toxic waste water from the hydraulic fracking process In it he expresses concern about the ODNR’s policies on Injection Well waste water coming into our area mostly from out of state. Many people fear another episode worse than the C8 spill a decade ago. In a recent article in the Athens News the letter is recounted as well as the response he received from Richard J. Simmons, head of the Oil and Gas Division of the ODNR. Mr. Simmons is quoted as saying “The premise that underlies your concerns is inaccurate”. He states this and makes other statements that, while they may have the appearance of truth to them when taken out of context, are either deliberately misleading or outright lies. Richard Simmons, a former Oil and Gas man himself, tries to convince us that the US EPA has concluded that “Ohio’s laws and rules meet or exceed federal standards for ‘brine’ disposal”. As I understand it, the new Horizontal hydraulic fracking process was developed only in the last ten years or so, and the chemicals now used are much more toxic than the old salty “brine” water of a past era of shallow vertical fracking. Beyond this, when fracking occurs at these much deeper depths and the water and its chemical composition that is extracted as waste water carries heavy metal residues and radioactivity which make it much more dangerous and poisonous than the old “brine” water. Labeling it as such is hiding the facts and misinforming the public. Further, the regulations that Richard Simmons is speaking about were made in 1988 and for nearly the past thirty years they have been in need of overhaul. That has been stymied in the legislative process for years on-going. So, it would appear that Richard Simmons statement is very misleading and disingenuous. He further states that Ohio’s regulations about class II Injection Wells are more stringent than other states, and that Ohio’s “greater” number of Injection Wells than neighboring Pennsylvania is not because of lax regulation. As I understand, Ohio has 236 active Injection Wells, PA about 19 and WV about that many also. That puts us at about 11 times more than the surrounding states. They obviously have legislated the toxic waste water out of their states, and Ohio’s pro-Oil and Gas government gladly accepts it. According to the ODNR’s own figures about 90 % of the fracking waste being injected in Meigs Co. is from out-of-state and 82% in Athens county. How this equates to our policies being more stringent than neighboring states seems preposterous. But then you have to factor in the source. Richard Simmons tells us “I can assure you that the disposal of ‘production fluid’ and brine is a proven effective and safe method”. This, even though geological studies have not been done nor aquifers mapped in our area. I am feeling so reassured now, aren’t you?
Darwin, Meigs Co.