The ODNR has permitted a horizontal fracking well inside the environmentally-protected zone of the Meander Reservoir in Ohio's Mahoning Valley without consulting the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or the overseeing Mahoning Valley Sanitary District.
Today, activists with Frackfree Mahoning Valley protested this well site and formed a blockade at the entrance of the site, refusing to move. They arrived at 10:30 a.m. and after more than four hours of blockading the entrance, activists decided to peacefully resolve the blockade with no arrests or confrontations.
The goal of the protesters was to bring attention to this issue and with a great turnout from the local media, they have been successful.
One of the protesters John Bergen from Ohio said,“Yes, I am afraid, but I can no longer deny the urgency of stopping this—this toxic practice. There wasn't even an environmental impact assessment for this project. It's drill first, ask questions later.”
When asked what elected officials are doing, Allison Monroe from Ohio, replied, “State and federal government isn't protecting us, so we have to protect ourselves.”
Fracking contaminates ground and surface water. An internal industry report found that six percent of wells have leaks immediately upon completion. Fracking uses a secret blend of toxic chemicals to shatter rocks deep within the Earth. Those chemicals can contaminate the water through negligence and through mechanical failure. No matter the safety record of a company—in this case Console Energy—wells fail, and overtime all wells break, becoming sources for water contamination.
The Cadle fracking well site sits less than 100' from a stream—a direct tributary of the Meander Reservoir. The Ohio EPA is responsible for the environmentally protected zone. The ODNR should have consulted with the Ohio EPA before granting the permit for this well.
“What we are looking at is a clear and present danger to the public health, safety and welfare of the citizens of the Mahoning Valley,” said John Williams, resident of Niles, Ohio. “Once again the ODNR has decided to put the profit of corporations before the people. We are looking at a crisis of legitimacy for the State of Ohio right now. This well threatens to contaminate the Meander Reservoir with heavy metals, carcinogens and a host of toxic chemicals."
“What is especially troubling is that this is going forward. We are gathered here today because right now we have no other option to keep our families safe—we have to stop the construction,” Williams continued. “I guess if you asked me, that’s what I would say: that we’re here to keep our families and neighbors safe.”
This action comes just days before Youngstown City Council will decide whether or not to lease city lands for fracking.
And while a moratorium and stringent regulations on drilling and disposal of toxic fracking wastewater has been introduced in Ohio, many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are following Ohio Gov. Kasich's embrace of big oil exploitation as a “Godsend” for Ohio, despite having no other evidence besides the word of industry to make that claim.
National lawmakers are little help for struggling communities, while the federal FRACK Act continues to languish in committee. The Ohio General Assembly, for the most part, remains beholden to the gas industry. Bills that have been introduced that would tighten regulations have been stuck in committee for nearly a year. Most local governments have proven ineffective so far, as many local officials are pleading powerlessness to the State of Ohio.
Organizer Sam Rubin, said, “Direct action is currently justified and necessary. As the established mechanisms for institutional change continue to choose the dirty money and deceitful tales of the gasmen over our communities' health and safe drinking water we are forced into action—the question is not whether we will defend ourselves, but how.”
Take Action Now by calling on Youngstown officials to shut down the Meander well and not sell its mineral rights for fracking.
Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.