Petition to USEPA: Take away Ohio’s authority to regulate injection wells. ODNR is not doing its job!

Writing on behalf of all Ohio citizens, Teresa Mills, of Center for Health, Environment and Justice and Buckeye Forest Council, is filing a petition to US EPA. The letter calls on USEPA to do a full audit of Ohio’s underground injection control program and to suspend Ohio’s primacy, or right to control the progam and injection well permitting. The letter is signed by over two hundred organizations and individuals who are saying, ‘Enough is enough. Ohio Department of Natural Resources is not doing its job!’

A rally scheduled for noon, Monday, March 18 at the Athens County Courthouse, will call attention to the petition and to the shameful, criminal behavior of ODNR over decades. Speakers will detail the long violation history of Athens County’s Ginsburg injection well, at which Appalachia Resist! organized actions last June and November. Speakers will also highlight the recent intentional dumping of as much as 250,000 gallons of toxic, radioactive frack waste over a period of month into a tributary of the Mahoning River by Ben Lupo and his companies. ODNR allowed Lupo’s multiple operations to continue for decades in spite of at least 120 violations, many of them serious. Lupo will be tried for federal violations of the Clean Water Act for the Mahoning dumping and faces penalties much steeper than Ohio would inflict, according to Ohio Attorney Mike Dewine.

ACFAN member Grace Hall stated, “ODNR should be protecting Ohioans from carcinogenic, radioactive frack waste. Instead, it allows waste injection wells to operate for years after they have failed serious safety inspections.”

ODNR does not test or monitor for water or soil contamination.

The rally call states, “Ohio is not the nation’s toxic toilet. Join us to call on USEPA to take away Ohio’s authority over injection wells.” It is being held in conjunction with filing of a citizens’ petition to USEPA, initiated by Teresa Mills, Buckeye Forest Council Fracking Coordinator, and signed onto by groups and individuals around the state. The petition calls on USEPA to do a full audit and investigation of ODNR’s Underground Injection Control (UIC) program and for a suspension of Ohio’s authority to administer the program. The letter states that Ben Lupo and the Ginsburg well violation history are just the tip of the Iceberg. The rally is being held in conjunction with events around the state, including Youngstown and Portage County.

Crissa Cummings, another organizer of the Athens event, stated, “Last year over 500 million gallons of toxic, radioactive frack waste was dumped in Ohio communities. Over half of this came from Pennsylvania and West Virginia. We desperately need public servants who can protect us from the money-hungry fracking industry. ODNR obviously can’t.  We need USEPA to take back permitting and regulation of Class II injection wells. In Pennsylvania where USEPA is in charge, there are five operating injection wells. Ohio has 179, with more on the way, despite landowner resistance.”  One example of landowner resistance is the Atha injection well permit being opposed by Athens County Commissioners and hundreds of Athens County citizens and contested by the landowner of the land where the well is proposed, Ms. Melvina Mae Frost  (see Ecowatch coverage and for pertinent documents).

update: Letter to editor from NE Ohio resident, Elyse Hirsch, on need for USEPA action. 5-5-13