New Years Eve Earthquake Hits Youngstown While Public Pressure Halts Fracking Wastewater Injection Well Site
By Ben Shapiro and Jonathan Sidney
On the heels of an announcement by the Ohio Division of Natural Resources (ODNR), as reported in The Vindicator on Dec. 30, that ordered D&L Energy Inc to cease operations at a nearby brine-injection well—a storage site for toxic fracking wastewater—due to ten earthquakes since March 17 in close proximity to the well site in Youngstown, Ohio, another earthquake on Dec. 31 at 3:05 p.m., this one an unprecedented magnitude 4.0 recorded by the U.S. Geologic Society, was reported.
Susie Beiersdorfer, an instructor of geology at Youngstown State University, was downtown during today's quake. She said, "Everyone felt it. Shutting down an injection well is not like turning off a light switch, the pressure is still there. If more pressure needs to be equalized it's going to keep happening." Beiersdorfer went on to say "we are elated that the well has been shut down. None too soon. Because of the history of earthquakes and the history of epicenters around the injection well, it's only prudent to shut it down until it's ruled out as being a cause, nor should any injection wells be permitted or used."
The D&L well has been the subject of widespread community outrage. Youngstown area residents have attended township meetings, staged protests, sung anti-fracking carols outside the mayor’s office and even blockaded entrances to the D&L injection site to put a stop to the toxic earthquakes in the absence of regulatory intervention. Beiersdorfer feels that the “hard work and constant pressure is paying off. It’s in the news, it’s raising people’s awareness. That’s what I’m looking forward to in 2012.”
Though residents are excited by the temporary closure of the well, they remain concerned about the 170+ injection wells that remain active throughout Ohio. John Williams, a Youngstown resident, urges communities to remain vigilant, stating that while “we won this battle, the war is far from over. D&L has no regard for the long term safety of our communities or water. They’ll just try to shift their dirty business from one well to another and think we won’t notice.” D&L is constructing yet another injection well in Hubbard, about two miles east of the recently closed site.
More than a dozen protesters attended an ODNR informational meeting. Steve Beck, a local farmer spoke at the meeting saying, “there’s no way it’s safe,” while holding up a sign reading SOS EPA. "They make promises that give us a false sense of security. But common sense will tell you it’s not 100 percent safe.”
Residents lack confidence in the ability of local and state regulatory agencies. Beiersdorfer and other concerned citizens attended a November Coitsville Township meeting and were shocked to find out that public officials didn’t even know about the D&L injection wells until the land was cleared. ODNR geologist Tom Tomastik admited to angry residents that spills have occurred. “One of the trucks overflowed one of the drilling-mud tanks,” Tomastik explained to The Vindicator. “It spilled out on the ground and into a ditch.”
While citizens are thankful for the temporary closure of the injection well site, it is clear, especially after today's earthquake and the other active well sites, that community members will need to continually ramp up pressure in order to put a stop to the epidemic of new injection wells that threatens Ohio’s drinking water and seismic stability. The statewide struggle against injection wells continued on Dec. 31 at #OccupyMansfield’s In Memory of Mansfield, Casualty of Fracking.
We need to keep building momentum in the movement against fracking across Ohio, the Utica and Marcellus shale regions, and around the world. Your involvement in the fight is crucial—consider seeking a local ban on fracking and signing the Anti-Fracking Pledge of Resistance. The tireless organizers in Youngstown have shown that working together makes us strong.
For more information, click here.
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It's going to be back-to-school time soon, but will children go into the classrooms?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) thinks so, but only as long as safety measures are in place.
Keeping Schools Safe<p>What will safer schools look like?</p><p>In a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2766822" target="_blank">JAMA article</a> published last month, <a href="https://www.jhsph.edu/faculty/directory/profile/1781/joshua-m-sharfstein" target="_blank">Dr. Joshua Sharfstein</a>, a pediatrician and professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, outlined suggestions — many of which are similar to AAP's.</p><p>Remote learning protocols must stay in place, especially as some schools stagger home and in-building learning. If another shutdown needs to occur, children will rely on distance learning completely, so it must be easy to switch to, he said.</p><p>He suggested giving parents a daily checklist to document their child's health. Kids should be screened quickly on arrival and be given hygiene supplies. Maintenance staff should use appropriate PPE and have regular cleaning schedules. A notification system should be in place if a case is identified, Sharfstein recommended.</p><p><a href="https://www.albany.edu/rockefeller/faculty/erika-martin" target="_blank">Erika Martin</a>, PhD, an associate professor of public administration and policy at University at Albany, said nutrition assistance and health services should be included. She called for tutoring programs with virtual options as well as technology access.</p>
Supporting Staff<p>Teachers and staff will be affected by safeguarding measures, noted <a href="https://directory.sph.umn.edu/bio/sph-a-z/rachel-widome" target="_blank">Rachel Widome</a>, PhD, an associate professor of epidemiology and community health at University of Minnesota.</p><p>"In order for all of the in-school precautions to work well, we'll be asking a lot of teachers and staff," Widome told Healthline. In addition to their usual workload, they'll now be asked to monitor mask-wearing, ensure children are keeping distance, and be aware of any symptoms.</p><p>Along with Sharfstein, Widome called for an increase in financial support. More employees will likely be required so teachers and staff members can keep up with the added demands.</p>
Should Kids Go Back?<p>While these guidelines may help get some schools to reopen, many people don't think children should go back to school over fears they could contract the disease and spread it to other vulnerable family members like grandparents, infant siblings, or their parents.</p><p>In a <a href="https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2020/07/08/peds.2020-004879" target="_blank">Pediatrics</a> commentary, <a href="https://www.md.com/doctor/william-raszka-md" target="_blank">Dr. William V. Raszka, Jr.</a>, an infectious disease specialist at The University of Vermont Medical Center, argued that schools should open because school-aged children are far less important drivers of COVID-19 than adults.</p><p>But he says the risk and benefit is not equal among all students ages 5 to 18.</p><p>"Elementary schools are arguably higher priority for face-to-face schooling, since younger children are at lower risk for infection and transmission, and since parental supervision of younger children's distance learning may be particularly challenging," added Sorensen, who penned a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/channels/health-forum/fullarticle/2767411" target="_blank">June article in JAMA</a> with reopening tips. "That means middle and high schools are more likely to emphasize distance learning."</p><p>Specific student populations, such as special education students and students with disabilities, would also benefit greatly from more time spent in face-to-face environments, Sorensen said.</p>
What Parents Can Do<p>Parents should ask for and receive frequent updates from schools about plans for the fall. They should also be informed about plans if and when COVID infections are identified, Sharfstein said.</p><p>"I'd like to see parents investing now, during the summer, in doing things that can slow and stop the spread of the virus in their communities," Widome said.</p><p>"Now is a good time for kids to practice wearing masks and get used to them as they may be wearing them for longer stretches if school starts up in person," Widome suggested.</p><p>She recommends parents try different mask designs and materials to see what children are more comfortable wearing.</p><p>"If you are using cloth face coverings, it's good to have extras on hand," Widome added.</p><p>Parents should model healthy behavior at home and while out in public — another thing that could affect how well children adapt to reopening practices, Sorensen said.</p><p>"Children may want to know more about face coverings," added <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/leescott/" target="_blank">Lee Scott</a>, chairwoman of the Educational Advisory Board at <a href="https://www.goddardschool.com/" target="_blank">The Goddard School</a>. "Dramatic play, such as creating or wearing a face covering, may help some children adjust to this concept." Schools can also show children photos of what faculty members look like in their masks so the students are familiar with that appearance.</p><p>Johns Hopkins University recently released its eSchool+ Initiative, a slew of resources surrounding education during the pandemic. These include a <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-checklist/" target="_blank">checklist for administrators</a>, report on <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/ethics-of-reopening/" target="_blank">ethical considerations</a>, and a tracker of <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-policy-tracker/" target="_blank">state and local reopening plans</a>.</p>
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<div id="fea63" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9a6f211c2bc5aedd34837944cb8eeedf"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1281000111481294849" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Water in Illinois is overwhelmingly public. Why is Tammy Duckworth sponsoring a bill that aims to change that? https://t.co/1V36Kkd99s</div> — The American Prospect (@The American Prospect)<a href="https://twitter.com/TheProspect/statuses/1281000111481294849">1594249201.0</a></blockquote></div>
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