Second Atha well permit application filed

Comments due Nov. 30, 2015.  Tell ODNR enough is enough!

Here’s the ridiculous permit application.

Will this document ensure protection of our groundwater and drinking water? Of course not!

Will it ensure there won’t be spills and leaks into the Hocking River? Of course not!

Will it ensure there won’t be non-stop air emissions of toxic volatile organic compounds? Of course not!

The Division of Oil and Gas doesn’t care about your health. Tell them what you think of their management of our drinking water supplies, which they are legally obligated to protect!

See acfan’s injection well factsheet and injection well page for more.

Key points: A “well” is not a container. It is a hole in the ground. ODNR does no geologic evaluation to ensure that what is pushed down won’t come back up through fissures, old wells, or new fractures from increasing earth movement throughout the continental plate.



CC: Ms. Susan Hedman, Regional Administrator, USEPA Region 5, State Senator Lou Gentile:, State Rep. Debbie Phillips, Athens County Commissioner Lenny Eliason

Sample letter:

Dear Chief Simmers:

I write in strong opposition to the proposed Athens County injection well Atha #2, #APATTO27661, which is likely to cause long-term harm to our community’s air, water, public health, and property values and is a safety concern, not only because there will be constant air emissions and because there is no reason to think that the waste won’t find a way to the surface but also because the site lies along the Hocking River and on a windy, hilly road.

I list here just a few of the many concerns that I share with many in our community who are not able to respond within your very short comment period, timed once again during family holidays:

  1. This is a highly deficient application that will not prevent pollution of land, surface water, and drinking water sources as required by Ohio law (OAC 1501:9-3-04). There is no geologic data presented to protect water supplies—drinking water, groundwater, and underground water sources—or public health, safety and environmental conservation. There is not even a map provided in the application!
  2. The Chief unlawfully and unreasonably approved the permit for the first Atha Frost well in a manner that does not protect underground sources of drinking water in violation of federal and state requirements governing the injection of oil and gas waste liquids.
  3. There is no reference as to nearby aquifers as USEPA requires, thus showing the inadequacy and therefore illegality of Ohio’s injection well program.
  4. There is no provision in the application or ODNR regulation that can assure the public that surface water contamination, including major truck or equipment spills into the Hocking River, can be prevented. ODNR is charged with these environmental, safety and health protections by state and federal law.
  5. Aquifers of the region are not mapped and so are not taken into account in the siting and plans for this well, in violation of Safe Drinking Water Act and USEPA standards, thus showing the illegal inadequacy of ODNR’s injection well program.
  6. The Atha site is so close to the Hocking River that any spill, such as the recent spill at the nearby K&H site from K&H#1 in which 15 tons of contaminated soil was removed downhill from the well site, would potentially pollute drinking water supplies for millions of downstream Hocking and Ohio River water consumers. The Sept. 2015 K&H #1 spill reports also give no indication that the removal of the 15 tons of contaminated soil resulted in adequate remediation of the site. ODNR has no remediation or enforcement standards. Was this removal merely surface scraping? What tests determined that the removal was adequate to prevent contamination of surface and drinking water supplies near K&H #1? What was done with the contaminated soil and what assurance does the public have that the contaminated soil, if dumped in a sanitary landfill, will not continue to pollute our region’s surface and ground water and drinking water supplies? How would permitting of the Atha well insure that such a spill, potentially resulting in contamination of drinking water supplies for millions of downstream water customers, could be prevented? It was not prevented at K&H #1. How would the Atha #2 well be any more likely not to have spills?
  7. The June 2014 weeklong Eisenbarth fire in Munroe County Ohio, which resulted in the death of over 70,000 fish and countless other unnamed species and contamination of a tributary of the Ohio River upstream of drinking water intakes, is an example of what can and has happened in Ohio when frackwaste tanks explode and burn. This application for the Atha #2 well, relying on similar tanks filled with explosive hydrocarbon mixtures and located only hundreds of feet of the Hocking River, cannot give us any assurance that such a catastrophe will not happen in our county and along our Hocking River, upstream of millions of Ohio River water customers.
  8. The Atha #1 injection disposal well at the same facility has shown in multiple incident reports that well integrity has been breached numerous times, indicating that another well operated by Mr. Atha at the site may likely result in adverse effects on human health and contamination to ground water, prohibited by R.C. Chapter 1509 and the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.
  9. ODNR does no monitoring of drinking or ground water around its injection wells, including the current Atha well, so neighbors will not know when contaminants find a pathway to groundwater from Mr. Atha’s wells. There is no assurance that the Atha #1 has not already contaminated local drinking water sources and the Hocking River.
  10. Studies of oil and gas waste emissions confirm that benzene and other known human carcinogens are present, often at extremely high and often illegal levels. ODNR does no air monitoring around its injection wells, so neighbors will not know what chemicals they are being subjected to in the air they breathe. The current facility with its multiple storage tanks continually vents toxic hydrocarbons and volatile organic compounds directly into the riverine community, leading to chronic exposure of chemical combinations for anyone living along the river.

I request a public hearing in Athens County based on my substantive concerns with the serious deficiencies of this permit application to prevent contamination and pollution of surface of the land, surface water and groundwater, as required by Ohio Administrative Code 1501:9-3-04, which states: (A) All persons engaged in any phase of saltwater disposal operations shall conduct such operations in a manner which [sic] will not contaminate or pollute the surface of the land, or water on the surface or in the subsurface…” My concerns, substantive and relevant to public health, safety, and environmental conservation, merit a public hearing because Ohio law requires that the Chief grant a public hearing if ANY comments are substantive and relevant to health, safety, or good conservation practices. (OAC 1501:9-3-06 (H)(2) (c)). There is no stipulation that can be added to such a deficient application, governed as it is by an illegally deficiently protective regulatory system, that can effectively address these substantive and regulatory concerns. This application should be withdrawn.





Grassroots Organizations Denounce Plans to Frack Ohio’s National Forest

Athens, OH Nov. 13, 2015 –– Opponents of a federal government proposal to lease some 31,000 acres of the Wayne National Forest for fracking today challenged the proposal’s legitimacy in a letter demanding a full-scale environmental report be compiled and put before the public before any decision to take bids from drilling firms. Activists from the Buckeye Forest Council, Athens County Fracking Action Network, Heartwood, Freshwater Accountability Project, Appalachian Ohio Group of the Sierra Club, and Center for Health, Environment, and Justice called previous studies by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service “poorly conceived” and “shallow” and cited many harms from fracking that have never been admitted by the agencies.

The groups said a 2012 internal review by the BLM which authorized leasing to begin, called a Supplemental Information Report, directly violated federal environmental law because it was written in secret, excluded any public participation, and broke a written promise from 2006 that environmental effects would be studied before leasing would occur.

The BLM and FS are co-sponsoring a series of public meetings in Marietta, Athens and Ironton this week to justify a decision to promote high-volume horizontal fracking for oil and gas in the national forest. A Forest Service spokesperson characterized the meetings as “sort of scoping” – something the activists seized upon as indicative that the decision to frack is already made.  The unconsidered health and environmental threats, they say, include huge clearcuts to build access roads and drilling pads, untended liquid drilling waste holding ponds that will poison wildlife, widespread air pollution from the fracking chemicals, methane leakage, and an average 1,800 truckloads hauling equipment and chemicals to, or taking wastes from, each well. They also criticized the agencies for not considering the enormous waste stream produced by fracking, replete with health-compromising radioactivity in the form of Radium-226 and Thorium.

“It took 350 million years for radium and its daughter elements to become isolated from the surface of the Earth so that our carbon-based life forms could even develop,” said Terry Lodge, an attorney working with the opponents. “The worst threat oil and gas workers and the public have never heard of from fracking is that nearly 100% of the wastes are radioactive, that radium is very water-soluble, is misidentified by the body as calcium and readily incorporated into bone tissue, and that it kills. Madame Curie and her staff were wiped out by Radium-226. If this leasing goes through, thousands of additional tons per year will be dumped in Ohio’s sanitary landfills, which are not prepared to handle these radioactive waste.”

The 2012 “reconsideration” was the result of widespread community protest in 2011 that resulted in cancellation of a December 2011 lease sale of Wayne subsurface rights. The 2011 protest was initiated by a Buckeye Forest Council community alert and the organization’s formal comments to the BLM, which guided further comments by dozens of citizens and local officials and water protection entities. OU’s President Roderick McDavis, Mayor Paul Wiehl, Athens City Council, Burr Oak Water District, and Athens Conservancy were among those submitting formal protests to the BLM. Documents from this effort are available at

“What don’t these agencies understand about the word NO?” asked Roxanne Groff, Bern Township trustee, former Athens County commissioner and a leader in the 2012 community efforts. “Our community has been loud and clear: we don’t want fracking in our public forest. These agencies must comply with NEPA and do the research, which will make it abundantly clear that fracking will have significant negative impacts on our community’s air, water, and local economies.”

Joe Hazelbaker, newly appointed BFC interim executive director and a co-signatory of the letter to the Bureau of Land Management and  US Forest Service , summed up the organization’s position, stating, “The Forest Service and BLM are treating the leasing of 31,000 acres as a cursory process with a foregone conclusion while casting the public as merely their audience. The law requires otherwise and we will work together to do whatever we can to prevent these agencies from spoiling the Wayne.”



Wayne and BLM revisiting oil and gas leasing

Keep an eye on ACFAN’s facebook and website for more information to come soon about community action to protest this dangerous and illegal development!

MEANWHILE, please read this important Buckeye Forest Council action alert:

On Sunday, November 1, 2015, the U.S. Forest Service (FS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced plans to consider leasing over 31,000 acres of public mineral rights underneath Ohio’s Wayne National Forest to private oil & gas companies.
In their Public Notice riddled with errors (including wrong day, bad webpage link, and inconsistent acreage numbers), the FS/BLM announced that they would hold “Scoping Meetings” to provide information on the Proposal and solicit “feedback” from interested parties.  However, no project details were provided in the Notice or otherwise made available.
In addition, the Notice also states that the FS/BLM has already pre- decided to conduct piece-meal Environmental Assessments by district before receiving public “feedback” and despite the enormous footprint and potential impacts of this forest-wide proposal.
The FS/BLM are clearly indicating that they have already made the determination to categorically exclude the Proposal from full National Environmental Policy Act scrutiny in an effort to fast-tract the handover of public rights for private exploitation at the expense of forest ecosystems.
As has become their tactic, the Proposal is being lobbed at the beginning of the family holiday season and provides barely two-weeks notice prior to the first meeting.  The dates and locations of the known meetings are as follows:
Tuesday, November 17: Marietta,
Ohio. Marietta College, Andrews Hall Great Room 203, 215 Fifth Street: 6:30-8:30 PM.
Wednesday, November 18: Athens, Ohio.  Athens Community Center Multipurpose Room A, 701 East State Street: 6:30-8:30 PM.
Thursday, November 19: Ironton, Ohio.  Ohio University Southern Campus, Collins Center, Bowman Auditorium, 1804 Liberty Avenue: 6:30-8:30 PM.
We are asking people to attend the scheduled meetings, if possible.  BFC members will be at each meeting. There is strength and synergy in numbers.
If you can’t attend,  please submit written comments critical of this contrived NEPA process, limited and incorrect notice, poor timing, and piece-meal Environmental Assessment approach.  Demand that the FS/BLM:
1. restart the process with proper Federal Register notice;
2. provide additional and meaningful opportunities for public input after the first of the year;
3. revise the outdated Wayne National Forest Plan to include consideration of the impacts of new oil & gas extraction technologies prior to leasing federal mineral rights;
4. prepare a full & comprehensive EIS to address the site-specific AND cumulative impacts of this forest-wide proposal.
5.  not subsidize the oil & gas industry by handing over public rights at the bottom of a local & worldwide energy market; and
6.  prevent further contribution to climate change by keeping these public fossil fuels in the ground undisturbed.
For background information on previous attempts to lease mineral rights under the Wayne, please see:
Please send comments to:
Kurt Wadzinski
Planning & Environmental Coordinator
BLM-Eastern States
Northeastern States District Office
626 East Wisconsin Avenue
Suite 200
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53202
Office:  414.297.4408
For more information, contact Teresa Mills at:

Keep an eye on ACFAN’s facebook and website for more information to come about community actions to protest this dangerous and illegal process!

Torch OH residents organize

Residents of Torch and Coolville, Ohio, near the K&H injection well facility have come together several times in recent months and plan to continue meeting and organizing to educate the community and public officials about impacts they’re experiencing from the industrial facility that has taken over their community in the past three years.  Noise, smells, truck traffic, and earth tremors have become common, day and night. WTAP covered their recent meeting with this report: Concerned Citizens of Coolville Organize.

And now the group has published and is distributing the following fact sheet, which also announces their next public meeting on October 1 at 6:30 pm in the Coolville Fire Station:

Why should I care about INJECTION WELLS in my Ohio community?

“Fracking” is used by oil and gas companies to get more out of a gas well.  With horizontal fracking, millions of gallons of water laced with carcinogenic chemicals are shot into the ground under high pressure to fracture shale. This releases the gas & oil trapped there. What happens when this “water” comes back to the surface? Because it is toxic to plants, animals, and humans, it must be “disposed of.” Here’s where injection wells come in: they allow the toxic, radioactive waste to be pumped back into the ground where it disperses. Only the oil & gas companies (and sometimes the government) know what chemicals are in this toxic mix, and they are NOT telling.

Residents of Torch, OH now find that 3 of these Class II injection wells have been built right under their noses by K&H Partners of West Virginia in spite of opposition by Athens County Commissioners and many county residents. Only a chain link fence and “No Trespassing” signs mark the location. Holding tanks, deceptively painted green, are visible from the four-lane. The only signs of life are tanker trucks lined up around the clock waiting to expel their waste. No sign tells of the millions of gallons of toxic waste being pumped into the ground next to the rest stop.

Our County Commissioners and many residents have grave concerns about the wells:

  • Wells are just steel and concrete pipes into the ground. These wells are not enclosed containers – Where the toxic waste will migrate underground is unknown. (Drouin, 2014)
  • The holding tanks vent carcinogenic chemicals 24 hours a day. ODNR and EPA do not monitor the nearby air to determine levels of these fumes.
  • Aquifers in the region are not mapped. The K&H pipes only go down about 2000 feet. The drilled holes are about 4000 feet deep. (ODNR website) Class II wells have no monitoring wells around them. (USEPA)
  • Seismic activity has been linked to injection wells in OH and other states. (Oskin, 2015) A 3.5 magnitude earthquake shook Athens Co. Ohio on Nov. 20, 2013. (The Columbus Dispatch, 2013) Athens County was also rattled by an earthquake centered in Virginia on August 23, 2011. The wells and our homes are not built to withstand tremors.
  • Tanker trucks rumbling down our roads filled with hazardous toxic waste are only labeled “Brine” because oil & gas waste is exempt from federal hazardous waste regulations and important parts of the federal Safe Drinking Water, Clean Air, and Clean Water acts (U.S. EPA, 2014).
  • ODNR does NO testing of groundwater, surface water, or drinking water for contamination anywhere around the wells it permits and from which it profits.
  • Our fire departments and first responders have no Material Safety Data Sheets to know what chemicals are burning if there is a fire.
  • The ODNR’s Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management supersedes the EPA and issues injection well permits. (ODNR, 2010) NO public hearing has ever been granted when local residents and officials request one from the ODNR concerning these permits.

Please join dozens of neighbors who are concerned about this toxic, radioactive waste too. You are invited to come to an open informational meeting.  The meeting will be held at the Coolville Fire House on October 1st at 6:30 PM.


Drouin, R. as_fracking_booms_growing_concerns_about_wastewater.

Oskin, B. fracking-is-not-the-cause-of-quakes-rather-its-frackings-wastewater from

State Impact PA: Deep Injections Wells: How Drilling Waste Gets Disposed Underground

U.S. EPA. Regulation of Hydraulic Fracturing Under the Safe Drinking Water Act

ACFAN appeals K&H#3 Injection Well Permit

ACFAN appeals K&H#3 Injection Well Permit

Athens, OH, April 14, 2015 –– Athens County Fracking Action Network has appealed the recent permitting of another injection well in Torch, Ohio, owned by Jeff Harper of West Virginia. The latest Athens County frack waste injection well, the K&H #3, was permitted last month by Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

According to the notice of appeal, “This appeal is brought pursuant to O.R.C. §1509.36 and Ohio Adm. Code §§1509-1-09 and 1509-1-11. The Chief’s issuance of the injection well permit for Well Number 34-009-2-3824-00-00 was unreasonable and unlawful for a number of reasons, including, but not limited to, the following…: 1) The Chief unlawfully and unreasonably approved the permit in light of information known to him from the two other K&H injection disposal wells located on the same tract of land as Well Number 34-009-2-3824-00-00 that the geologic strata where the wastes would be injected for disposal did not adequately confine the wastes, thereby failing to demonstrate that the well would not result in an adverse effect on human health and/or contamination to ground water protected by R.C. Chapter 1509 and the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. 2) The Chief unlawfully and unreasonably approved the permit by requiring that the injection well’s protective casing extend only to an inadequate depth of approximately half of the 4,200 foot deep borehole, thereby insufficiently confining the waste, which fails to demonstrate that the well would not result in an adverse effect on human health and/or contamination to ground water protected by R.C. Chapter 1509 and the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. 3) The Chief unlawfully and unreasonably approved the permit based upon the requirements of guidance documents and ‘standard operating procedures’ which constitute ‘rules’ under ORC Chapter 119 but which are unlawful due to the Chief’s failure to adopt them in compliance with the legally required safeguards for rulemaking under Ohio law. 4) The Chief unlawfully and unreasonably approved the permit in a manner that does not protect underground sources of drinking water in violation of federal and state requirements governing the injection of oil and gas waste liquids.” The notice concludes with a statement of the requested remedy that the Oil and Gas Commission “find that the action of the Chief in issuing the well permit to Well Number 34-009-2-3824-00-00 was unlawful and unreasonable and that the permit should therefore be vacated and this matter remanded to the Chief for further action as required by law and for such other relief as appropriate and just.”

In spite of hundreds of articulate and informed voices speaking out, including those of our County Commissioners and other elected representatives, Gov. Kasich allowed his appointees at ODNR to approve the third K&H Partners’ toxic radioactive frackwaste injection well in Athens County. This approval process subverted the law and ignored democratic principles. Our safety and security are at risk from this rogue state agency and the governor, who is in charge of it, and from the real and present threat this and other wells for injection of massive amounts of toxic and radioactive fracking waste pose to our drinking and agricultural water supply.

Our appeal of K&H#2 is pending in Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, where ACFAN is currently fighting for Ohio citizens’ right to appeal injection well permits.

The Ohio Supreme Court has affirmed that Ohio citizens have the right to appeal an injection well permit. We are now awaiting affirmation by Franklin County Court of Common Pleas of this right, countering ONDR’s claim, made in response to ACFAN’s lawsuit, that the Ohio court’s reference was to a “2nd permit.” ODNR instigated this so-called “2nd permit” after the Ohio Supreme Court ruling and after ACFAN filed against K&H2. This “2nd permit,” which ODNR claims is appealable, is meaningless: It is issued after construction of the well and is based only on a pressure test.  In addition, there is no provision in the statute or regulations that require public notice or an opportunity for public hearing before issuance of this so-called “2nd permit.” Nor has public notice been provided on any “2nd permit” by ODNR.  See injection well page for legal documents in the K&H#2 appeal.

Call the Governor’s office today: Grant a public hearing now!

Calls to Gov. Kasich still encouraged. Please say it is GOVERNOR KASICH’S RESPONSIBILITY to require ODNR grant a public hearing. ODNR will not do it without the Governor stepping in.


Our local officials have been notified by ODNR that no hearing is necessary on the K&H3 well permit application. THIS IS AGAINST OHIO LAW and the PUBLIC INTEREST.


phone: 614-466-3555

Please e-mail Roxanne at roxannegroff1227 AT to let us know you’ve called and what response you got.

You may wish to use some of the following in support of your position:

“I am calling with great concern that ODNR will not grant a public hearing on the permit application for the K&H injection well in Torch Ohio, Athens County. I am one of hundreds of concerned citizens who want the governor to tell the Director and Oil and Gas Chief that they must have a public hearing according to Ohio law.

Ohio Administrative Code rule 1501.9.3 states that if any substantive objection is “relevant to the issues of public health or safety, or to good conservation practices” a hearing shall be called, by the chief, within thirty days of receipt of the objection.” Our concerns are substantive and relevant.

The Governor is the only person who can make the Director and the Oil and Gas Chief allow this hearing to happen in Athens, as citizens and our local public officials have repeatedly requested. It is the governor’s DUTY to make his appointees follow state law.

With the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision last week that Ohio oil and gas interests trump local zoning control (Munroe Falls case decision), our highest elected state official must require that the state protect citizens, because the power of local governments to protect their communities is being stripped by the state. Mr. Kasich must rein in this rogue agency that is putting our communities and health at risk. We’re counting on the governor to make his appointees grant a public hearing as public safety and the law require.

I wish to be informed as to when the hearing will be scheduled. Thank you.” phone: 614-466-3555

Please share post at acfan’s facebook page. No deadline. Let’s keep calling!

Please let us know if you get through:


See Athens News coverage and previous ACFAN post on K&H3 application and public outcry, expressed in 198 submitted comments and the Dec. 29 Athens County Commissioners’ public meeting.

See ODNR Director Zehringer letter to Rep Debbie Phillips and Sen. Lou Gentile stating no public hearing is necessary.



ODNR and Jeff Harper can’t silence Athens County!

Updates on the Dec. 30 meeting and the 198 comments submitted on the K&H3 injection well proposal and more:

Complete coverage of ACFAN press release on the 198 comments opposing the K&H3 injection well application:

A few of the excellent comments are posted here: Bernhard Debatin: K&H3 comments, Roxanne Groff’s, and Athens Conservancy’s. 1-22-15

Great coverage of Athens County Commissioners’ December 30 meeting on the K&H3 injection well permit application. The meeting was the result of ACFAN’s request to the Commissioners to host a public meeting, given the timing of the public comment period over the holidays. At least 120 people attended the meeting. Dozens spoke, all opposed to the well. An audio recording of the meeting was submitted by the Commissioners to ODNR along with their own comments and those of citizens who requested the Commissioners report their opposition to the well.

Athens Messenger announces well. Permit (incomplete) application link here. Note that the permit application in the Messenger article is incomplete, omitting the Supplement page that lists 12,000 barrels as the “maximum” to be dumped daily. Even this is not a fixed amount and can be exceeded.

Model K&H3 comments 

E-mail: to request the more complete application with supplement page.


Citing health risks, New York bans high-volume shale fracking


In a historic victory for environmental activists, NY Governor Cuomo has said he will bar high-volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF) in New York State. This decision means that New York’s shale gas reserves are likely to remain in the ground for the foreseeable future.

Before announcing his decision, the governor called on Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens and Department of Health Acting Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker to report their findings. Commissioner Martens said that fracking could have major impacts on air quality, water resources and communities, while Dr. Zucker reported that his department’s two-year review found that the process could pose “serious health risks.” He concluded that he wouldn’t want to live in a community where fracking takes place, and wouldn’t let his child play in a school field nearby.


New York’s Department of Health didn’t conduct original research of its own; instead it reviewed the existing literature in the field. Yesterday it released its findings in this 176-page report. PSE Healthy Energy also surveyedthe more than four hundred peer-reviewed scientific studies that consider the impacts of unconventional oil and gas extraction on air quality, water quality, and human health. While there are still significant data gaps, the emerging trend is unmistakable. In every area, the preponderance of scientific studies point to either significant risks or to adverse impacts associated with fracking.

New York Times breaking story

Ecowatch coverage

Food and Water Watch Director, Wenonah Hauter, on the implications for the rest of the country

Athens County participates in national study, released 10-30-14

Warning Signs: Toxic Air Pollution Identified and Oil and Gas Sites: Community air monitoring reveals chemicals linked to health hazards

The recent U.S. oil and gas boom has transformed hundreds of communities across the country—from rural areas and small towns to suburbs and cities—into industrial production zones.  Oil and gas companies are using unconventional techniques such as hydraulic fracturing—known known as “fracking”—to extract deposits wherever they can be reached, even if those places are in the backyards of homes, near schools or places of worship, or on farmland.  Oil and gas production uses hundreds of toxic chemicals that are emitted directly or escape into the air, exposing residents, workers and animals.

In 2012, twelve community groups in 6 states (Arkansas, Colorado, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wyoming), with support from a team of national organizations and experts, decided to test the air near oil and gas development sites located in their communities.

A new report from Coming Clean and Global Community Monitor, titled Warning Signs: Toxic Air Pollution Identified and Oil and Gas Sites, provides results from community air monitoring in those states near oil and gas development sites, including where hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” activities or waste disposal are taking place.  Results show a wide range of hazardous chemicals are present in the air at levels above federal health and safety standards. In some cases, monitors revealed concentrations of hazardous chemicals high enough to pose an immediate health threat to people.

 Community members were trained to collect air samples using equipment and methods certified by federal agencies.  They collected air samples when they personally observed activity at the sites or when they suffered symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, or breathing problems.

Although the monitoring data does not conclusively prove a link between specific chemicals and the health symptoms reported by community residents, the stark findings are enough to warrant a precautionary approach to regulation of oil and gas activities.  We must act on these warning signs to place greater emphasis on avoiding health hazards for all people living and working in drilling and production areas.  

Read the National News Release

Read Warning Signs Athens 10-30-14

Download the full report (4.6 MB PDF)

Read the peer-reviewed journal article in Environmental Health

Download the peer-reviewed journal article (870 KB PDF)

DeSmogBlog covers Arkansas part of the story


Citizens Urged to Tell U.S. Army Corps: “Count our letters!”

Press release also published at

Over four thousand citizens from the Ohio River basin filed protests of Texas-based GreenHunter’s frackwaste barge dock facility permit application to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last month. Because more than 3000 letters were sent through an alert by Food and Water Watch (FWW), the Corps is acknowledging fewer than 1000. Athens County Fracking Action Network (ACFAN) encourages writers who used the FWW tool to e-mail Teresa Spagna of the Corps directly at to request that their earlier comments be counted. Sending from your own e-mail account seems to be what the Corps requires to count your letter. Please send a short e-mail to Ms. Spagna requesting your earlier comment be counted. Ms. Spagna has told us that comments will be accepted until a decision is made. She has also stated that the Corps has no deadline for a decision.

Citizens and public officials are concerned because the facility would permit offloading and aboveground storage of over one hundred million gallons of frackwaste shipped from the Gulf Coast as well as down the Ohio River. The 981 miles of the Ohio River provide drinking water to over 3 million people. Ten percent of the country lives in the Ohio River Basin. Why would the Corps even consider approving this project when the chemical makeup of radioactive frack waste is a guarded secret?  Look at ongoing impacts of poisoned water on the cities of Charleston and Toledo and of C8, which after years is still poisoning the very region where this dock is proposed.

ACFAN and a coalition of concerned residents of West Virginia, Illinois, and Ohio have been working to alert the public and encourage letters of protest, joined by Athens County Commissioners and Athens City Council. The calls resulted in an extension of the original July comment period to Aug. 24.

One Meigs County resident’s letter highlighted past promises of prosperity. John Stock wrote, “Meigs County Ohio was once a thriving agricultural leader with many cow dairies and sheep farms. The promise of even more riches arrived with the coal companies who in less than 50 years destroyed the water, soil, and air of this previously fertile land. They took the money and left the county high and dry to deal with the environmental devastation that was high wall coal mining.  Fast forward to 2014: Pomeroy and Middleport have still not recovered,..

“Even with this historical handicap, Meigs County is trying to claw its way out of our social and environmental hole. An on-farm dairy processing plant which relies on water from well fields along the Ohio River is one of the largest employers in the county; the Green Corridor in Rutland Township is a thriving community of farmers, artists, craftsmen, teachers, herbalists, social workers, and more who protect a contiguous area of thousands of acres of land; Pomeroy, Harrisonville, and points in between have established themselves as destinations for seeing and playing The Blues. All of these people have a different plan for the future of Meigs County other than more environmental degradation. What is the economic carrot that GreenHunter is dangling this time? Jobs? Tax revenue? Who honestly believes that this toxic barge dock will do anything more than threaten the health and safety of our community once again?”

Stock and other writers cited the June 2014 Monroe County frackpad explosion and weeklong fire, in which a tributary of the Ohio River was so contaminated that at least 70,000 fish died, according to Ohio Department of Natural Resources. A USEPA report on the fire states that at least one chemical involved in the fire cannot be tracked due to lack of testing protocols.
“Downstream drinking water supply officials cannot even track this chemical,” noted Donna Carver, Buckeye Forest Council interim director. “How can they protect citizens who rely on the Ohio [River] for drinking water? This situation can occur only because this industry is exempt from federal drinking water laws that govern all other hazardous chemical industries. This must change,” she concluded.
U.S. Army Corps regulations state, “The benefit that reasonably may be expected to accrue from the proposal must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments.” Stock’s letter concludes, “The project has no benefits to the region. Its reasonably foreseeable detriments are of great public consequence and must be considered in a public hearing and an EIS [environmental impact statement]. I look forward to notice from you of further opportunities for public comment and public hearings in communities that would be affected by this proposal.”


Attorney Terry Lodge sent a letter to Spagna on Monday 9-15-14, endorsed by twenty groups from Ohio, West Virginia, and Illinois as well as national groups, expanding on this appeal: “We request that you please advise what NEPA [National Environmental Policy Act] document the Corps is preparing…Without being informed of the determination the Corps has obviously made concerning NEPA, the public has not been timely informed and NEPA’s aim of maximizing informed public advice has not been met. We further request to know what the anticipated timeline is for production of the NEPA document, and whether it will be circulated for public comment.”


Lodge’s letter concludes with a warning, “Approval of GreenHunter’s permit without disclosing the nature of the material to be delivered to the dock while issuing a NEPA finding only at the end of the process brings into serious question the Corps’ objectivity.  We will consider a lack of response to these requests for information after October 10, 2014 as a sign that the Corps does not intend to address its NEPA responsibilities in a public and transparent way.”