Columbus, OH – Today, a lawsuit was filed in Franklin County court against Governor Kasich and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ (ODNR) for the illegal approval of at least 23 fracking waste handling, storage, processing and recycling facilities to operate. The facilities were authorized by ODNR “Chief’s Orders”, bypassing the official rulemaking process required to permit such facilities. Fresh Water Accountability Project (FWAP) and Food & Water Watch (F&WW) brought the suit.
Before approving these types of fracking waste facilities, ODNR must adhere to the formal rule making process, which includes a public comment period. No rules have been made available to the public, yet ODNR has already approved several of these facilities. FWAP has appealed to ODNR, Governor Kasich and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), asking them to intervene and stop the building and operation of the frack waste facilities until rules are finalized and permitting procedures are in place, including a public comment period required by law.
“It truly is unfortunate that the only remedy that can now be sought is through the courts once again,” stated Lea Harper, Managing Director of FWAP. “I do not know what it takes to get our governing bodies to take action to protect Ohio’s environmental and economic future. These facilities are an imminent threat to public health. Once the fracking boom becomes a bust, it will be the Ohio taxpayer that pays the price for clean-up and health costs. We are doing everything we can to avoid that. We are also appealing to the state legislature to intervene without much luck. It is disheartening to see that in order to get our politicians and regulators to take us seriously in Ohio, it takes a lawsuit to stand out against the corporate monetary influence from the fracking industry.”
The Government Accountability Office recently singled out Ohio as having the most lax regulatory oversight out of eight states studied regarding fracking waste disposal. Because of this, Ohio is quickly becoming a frack waste dumping ground for other states. So far this year, over 15 million barrels of liquid fracking waste have been dumped in Ohio, with further plans to barge frack waste into the state via the Ohio River. The current regulations governing solid waste do not allow transparency for how much is being dumped, where, and how radioactive the waste is that is approved for dumping into Ohio’s solid waste landfills. Although the fracking waste is classified as non-hazardous, environmental and health organizations contend that the undisclosed chemicals and often radioactive materials in the fracking fluid are extremely hazardous to human health and risk contamination of Ohio’s water supply.
“The ODNR has unlawfully moved forward to approve these facilities without the input of the public, which these rules are intended to protect in the first place,” stated Alison Auciello of Food & Water Watch. “For loosely regulated frack waste processing and dumping to be allowed on such a huge scale spells disaster for Ohio. If the state is requiring sampling to prove that the waste isn’t above established thresholds for radioactive waste dumping, then why can’t the public obtain those samples? It is a sad commentary on our legislature and regulatory bodies that it takes a lawsuit for the citizens of the state to protect themselves.”
The lawsuit requesting the court’s intervention is a Declaratory Action requesting that the ODNR be forced to implement necessary regulations before the facilities given “Chief’s Orders” are allowed to operate. The filing can be found here.