By Rita McCans and Susan Spille
April 5, 2014
It isn’t often that area residents have the opportunity to hear leading experts speak on the pollution caused by fracking and the fossil fuel industry.
Three experts in the fields of drilling, health and environment are coming to Greenville from Michigan and New York and one of Ohio’s gas producing counties to tell local residents how the oil and gas industry is polluting wells, groundwater, farmland and putting our children, water, air, health and livelihoods at risk.
The Western Ohio Fracking Awareness Coalition (WOFAC) is providing the opportunity for the public to not only hear these experts but to meet and talk with them on April 15, from 7 to 9 p.m. at Memorial Hall in Greenville. This program, titled the “Toxic Truth,” is about the consequences of the fracking and fossil fuel industry waste.
This topic impacts all Ohioans, as injection wells, pipelines, fracking pads, and transportation of toxic chemicals are increasing in Ohio at alarming rates. According to articles found on the ANR and Texas Eastern (oil and gas associated) websites, as well as a recent public notices, Darke County will soon be receiving gas from the shale gas area of Ohio and beyond. Everyone is encouraged to attend and ask questions. Because of the controversy surrounding fracking waste and the seriousness of the program, all community, county and state leaders, who are concerned about their constituents, are urged to attend.
When leaders from WOFAC recently travelled to Harrison and Carroll counties in Eastern Ohio next to the Pennsylvania border, they confirmed that fracking involves far more than drilling and waste disposal wells. It also involves towering rigs on acres of stone, gravel and concrete which are placed in close proximity to each other and sometimes very close to neighboring homes and schools. Beautiful expanses of rolling hills filled with lush forests, sparkling ponds and plentiful wildlife are fast becoming littered with towering metal rigs that have changed the shape and the scope of the landscape and the environment forever.
Shale gas involves more than just a fracking pad, it also involves the destruction of millions of gallons of fresh water that will never return to the ecosystem, massive amounts of truck traffic, earth shaking dehydration systems, huge compression facilities, diesel powered generators, massive pipelines, impoundment ponds, solid toxic waste, hazardous chemicals, hundreds of out of state workers and more. These operations have the potential to pollute the environment, impact water levels and quality, cause earthquakes, impact public health, decrease property values, contaminate farmland and devastate the quiet charm of a farm, a small town, or even a subdivision within a city.
Because of numerous earthquakes in Texas, Arkansas, and Ohio near fracking wells and fracking injection wells, there are studies being conducted to determine if these earthquakes are caused by injection wells and/or fracking operations. While there are some individuals and communities who have benefited from selling their mineral rights to oil and gas companies, there are far more people affected by the potential for contaminated water, soil and air, decreased property values, increase truck traffic, the noise of drilling, the digging of a network of hundreds of miles of pipelines across the open fields, the blight of the huge metal rigs and “frackcidents”.
Rarely does a day go by without a pipeline accident or spill as well as a multitude of other fracking accidents. As the residents of many areas that are currently being fracked can attest, problems associated with fracking and fracking waste can far outweigh the benefits. Local governments are discovering that the money promised by oil and gas drillers is not enough to compensate for the damage to roadways and bridges, and, in some cases as recent news articles point out, the money promised is greatly reduced or ends abruptly.
More importantly, because there are so many facets involved with fracking, Western Ohio, including Darke County and the counties surrounding it, are certainly not immune to what can occur. Having said that it is “highly unlikely” that fracking and fracking injection waste will not come here is not a very comforting guarantee. Without laws to protect or prohibit this activity locally, landfills can accept radioactive drill cuttings, old wells can be re-drilled and be vertically fracked for “light” shallow gas or, as the ODNR website points out, old gas and oil wells could be turned into Class II waste injection wells. The Glen Karn and Hollansburg areas are already experiencing the impact of the shale gas industry, as pipelines and new bidirectional equipment are being installed to make it part of a vast network of pipelines reaching from Eastern Ohio through Darke County and on to access points south and west.
Recent news out of Columbus describing the collusion between the oil and gas industry and the State agency, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, assigned to regulate it, make it imperative that citizens become informed and vigilant about protecting our important resources in Western Ohio: our farmland, our water and the health of our citizens.
For more information about fracking and its problems go to www.wofac.org.
Rita McCans and Susan Spille are members of the Western Ohio Fracking Awareness Coalition (WOFAC). They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in these opinion pieces are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.