ACFAN and Appalachia Resist call for federal intervention

ATHENS GROUPS SEEK FEDERAL INTERVENTION, CLAIM ILLEGAL NEGLIGENCE IN OHIO INJECTION PROGRAM

Athens, OH June 4, 2014 –– Today Athens County Fracking Action Network (ACFAN) and Appalachia Resist! (AR!) appealed to USEPA administrator Gina McCarthy for federal intervention in Ohio’s underground injection program. “We…ask you to immediately undertake a review of the following apparent violations and dangerous operations at the K&H # 2 (Permit No. 34009238230000) in Athens County, Ohio. This report is being made by Appalachia Resist! and the Athens County Fracking Action Network on behalf of citizens of Athens County, Ohio,” the letter states, going on to cite repeated violations and problems with K&H Partners’ wells near Torch Ohio and repeated outcry by Athens residents, including the Athens County Commission, for activity at the site to be stopped until drinking water protection can be assured.

Among problems and violations cited are an unexplained disappearance of more than 200 bags of cement down the hole of the newly drilled K&H2 well and contamination of soil and a nearby stream during the drilling process. “There has been no investigation about the cause of the loss of cement. ODNR reports no consultation with headquarters or state geologists or engineers regarding the problem with the cement, why it might have failed in this geologic setting, and whether or not this poses a threat to the environment or to public health and safety,” the letter states. Regarding the water and soil contamination, the letter states, “As documented in the January 17th inspection report, during construction of K&H2, the drill rig accidentally and unexpectedly hit water in the Sandstone formation 1432 feet down.  As the pit began to take on water, nearby water and soil were contaminated.  The Ohio EPA Spill Response team was called.  The well operating company, Central Environmental Services, used a vacuum truck to attempt to remove contaminated water from the site.  Inspection reports show that initially at least 12 tons of contaminated soil and water were removed.  Inspection reports show that on January 18th the well operating company used the contaminated soil to build a containment wall around the well pit before being told to remove it.  All in all, they removed at least 20 tons of contaminated soil and water from the site.”

ACFAN steering committee member Andrea Reik, stated, “This situation is outrageous. Citizens of this community were ignored by ODNR when we raised concerns about the shoddy and inadequate K&H injection well application, which was just rubber-stamped by ODNR. Our calls for geologic and seismic testing were ignored. Now months later we learn about a spill, stream contamination and concrete ‘lost’ during well construction. Our worst fears have been confirmed.”

Madeline ffitch, of Appalachia Resist!, remarked, “When state regulators prioritize corporate out-of-state profits over the health of local people, repeatedly ignoring our concerns, this is the sort of behavior that pushes local people to enact civil disobedience and direct action in order to be heard.  We will continue to appeal through conventional avenues of redress, but cannot afford to wait any longer to take action.”

The letter calls McCarthy and USEPA “to exercise the oversight authority available to … correct the problems with management of the Class II UIC [Underground Injection Control] program. Section 1431 of the SWDA [Safe Drinking Water Act] gives the administrator broad powers to take action to prevent an impending dangerous situation from materializing once she has information that the ‘state and local authorities have not acted to protect the public health.’ It is apparent the K&H2 UIC in Troy Township, Athens County already poses an imminent threat to the community, even more so once it starts to inject waste.”

The letter concludes, “ODNR Oil and Gas personnel continue to demonstrate they have neither the skills nor inclination to manage their Class II UIC program consistent with 21st Century demands and standards.  It is imperative that you review this dangerous situation and take appropriate action. We await your response and actions.”

ACFAN also filed a legal appeal of the K&H2 permit in January and is awaiting action by the state Oil and Gas Commission, expected on June 12. The groups are pursuing obtaining public records from the relevant state agencies, which have so far withheld documents until court intervention led to release of some from ODNR. Other ODNR and all OEPA documents are still being sought. (link to appeal: acfan.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/ACFAN-notice-of-appeal-of-KH2-permit.pdf)

Letter to USEPA at appalachiaresist.wordpress.com.

E-mail string between Tomastik and industry consultants also at eenews.net/assets/2014/06/03/document_ew_01.pdf and eenews.net/assets/2014/06/03/document_ew_02.pdf in connection with E&E article of 6-3-14 by Mike Soraghan, E&E reporter: “DISPOSAL: Ohio official deems injection well comments ‘crap’”eenews.net/login?r=%2Fenergywire%2F2014%2F06%2F03%2Fstories%2F1060000598

UPDATE: A day following the ACFAN/AR! appeal to USEPA, Appalachia Resist! member Crissa Cummings locked herself to the gate at the K&H Partners waste facility near Torch, Ohio, shutting down operations for several hours. Coverage on NBC4, Columbus and at ohio.comEcowatch, Athens News, and Athens Messenger.