On February 22, front line community groups throughout the Ohio River basin received notification that the U.S. Coast Guard has determined that no new rules are needed to barge shipments of toxic, radioactive hydraulic fracturing waste. The Coast Guard instead decided to proceed using 40-year-old regulations that fail to address unconventional oil field waste from hydraulic fracturing. Fracking wastes contain such toxic chemicals as benzene and are laced with radioactive materials like water soluble radium-226, which is linked to leukemia and bone cancers. The Coast Guard will instead allow shipment of waste fluids from hydraulic fracturing to be determined on a case-by-case basis.
The proposal being considered by the Coast Guard would have required new rules and guidelines to transport highly flammable, explosive hazardous waste on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to currently undisclosed locations.
Terry Lodge, a Toledo attorney for the Fresh Water Accountability Project, was blunt, “This is disastrous. The Coast Guard proposes to regulate shipment by shipment, and they will do no such thing. They have very limited scientific staff, the lab testing of cargoes will not become Coast Guard records (if they do testing at all), and the information will remain the proprietary property of the shipper. The Coast Guard backed down and accepted an alternate means of classifying the shipments based on an oil and gas waste cargo definition that was implemented decades before horizontal hydraulic fracking was invented.”
And U.S. Coast Guard announcement in Federal Register, 2-23-16