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How the City of Columbus could save us from radioactive fracking waste — but will they?

by Bob Fitrakis
November 23, 2013

The website says it all: RadioactiveWasteAlert.org.
The billboard with a young woman guzzling liquid with a radioactive warning on it under the phrase: “Don’t Frack My Water, Protect Columbus” set the stage for one of the most important public forums in the city’s history.
If we had to summarize the major themes that emerged from the Tuesday, November 12 Radioactive Frack Waste Forum, the first is this: the public has a right to know that much of the process allowing radioactive waste into the central Ohio watershed near Alum Creek is the result of hidden, behind-the-scenes maneuvering by Ohio legislators and Governor John Kasich.
Second: the frack waste is undisputedly radioactive and carcinogenic. Radium 226 found at 3000% over the allowable limit by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a long-established link to many forms of cancer, including breast and bone cancer.
Third: All landfills leak. If you put radioactivity into them, it will come out.
Fourth: Ohio has become a radioactive dumping ground for the fracking industry and is not importing the waste prohibited by the regulators in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
Of the eight billion gallons of toxic radioactive waste injected into underground wells in Ohio over the last 30 years, half of it came from out-of –state.
Finally: Ohio is now poised to receive 19 million cubic feet of solid radioactive shell rock waste in the near future. Our 39 licensed landfills are de-regulated and open for the toxic imports.
The day before the Forum, “fracktivists” organizers went to Columbus City Council to present their well-documented findings. A few Council members noted that they had read about the radioactivity in the local news where it has been published in both the Free Press and the Columbus Dispatch, as well as reported by the local NBC affiliate, TV 4.
When Council President Andrew Ginther asked the City’s Public Health Director Theresa Long, she immediately declared, as public health directors have done in the past, that there was no threat to the health of Ohio citizens from a large radioactive waste site sitting right next to Alum Creek. She offered no data or facts with her analysis.
City Attorney Richard Pfeiffer asks the fracktivists the key question after the meeting: “What can the City of Columbus do, considering the current Ohio laws?”
That answer would be provided at the Forum. After an introduction by organizer Carolyn Harding, a series of radioactive waste experts and activists addressed this mounting health crisis. Dr. Julie Weatherington-Rice, an environmental consultant with a doctorate in soil science from Ohio State University, explained in detail what Long missed.
“They’ve de-regulated the drill cuttings. That’s 90% of what comes out of a bore hole. The mud is regulated yet every piece of cutting is covered in mud and it dries on the rocks. So if the mud is radioactive and it dries on the rocks, it means that the cuttings are of course radioactive,” she pointed out.
Weatherington-Rice said that most of the radioactivity comes from Radium 228 and 226. These are alpha and beta emitters. What the landfills use to detect radioactivity are Geiger counters. These are designed to detect gamma emissions.
Weatherington-Rice noted that the U.S. Department of Energy protocol requires that radium is not to be field tested by a Geiger counter, but isolated in a lab for 21 days to get a proper radioactivity reading. As she pointed out, amended House Bill 59, Ohio’s 2013 budget bill, has de-regulated “90% of the waste stream with no record-keeping requirement because they are calling the material ‘beneficial use.’”
For more than 30 years, Weatherington-Rice has been one of Ohio’s leading experts on groundwater protection. Long did not consult her before answering Columbus City Council members.
Terry Lodge, an environmental attorney from Toledo, detailed the backroom dealings that allowed radioactive material to be dumped so close to Columbus’ drinking water. He spoke of new Ohio laws that permit the “downblending” of highly toxic radioactive waste into less toxic material, freeing it from regulation. He also explained how defining drill cuttings as “beneficial use” as liners in landfills it can avoid testing or monitoring.
Lodge ended by saying, “I’m an activist. I’m ready for a fight.” Lodge is famous for using “guerilla” legal and populist strategies to fight frackers and other corporate polluters.
Perhaps the most chilling presentation was given by Dr. Yuri Gorby, a microbial physiologist and ecologist, who holds the Howard N. Blitman Chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He is an expert on the physical health effects of radioactivity and fracking waste. In his talk, Gorby stated that in his studies of fracking and radioactivity he noticed a variety of physical symptoms from bloody noses, burning eyes, rashes and neurological disorders including loss of memory, loss of sense of smell, anxiety, and tremors. Gorby said that he has been able to “fingerprint” through DNA many of the rashes directly to fracking. He warned that Ohio’s desire to allow the de-regulation of drill cutting with “no monitoring” will be disastrous for the health of our citizens.
His slide show, which is available at the website mentioned earlier, showed devastating illnesses among people exposed to toxic and radioactive fracking waste.
Nathan Johnson, an environmental attorney at the Forum, quickly answered the question on what the City of Columbus can do.
“They are allowed by law to establish and charge the companies for a program that would monitor for radioactivity in a proper lab test,” he said, “As long as they weren’t selective and charged everyone bringing in drill cuttings.”
On December 3 at 7pm, the group will meet again at the Columbus Public Library on Grant Street.
originally published at the freepress.org

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How the City of Columbus could save us from radioactive fracking waste — but will they?

by Bob Fitrakis
November 23, 2013

The website says it all: RadioactiveWasteAlert.org.

The billboard with a young woman guzzling liquid with a radioactive warning on it under the phrase: “Don’t Frack My Water, Protect Columbus” set the stage for one of the most important public forums in the city’s history.

If we had to summarize the major themes that emerged from the Tuesday, November 12 Radioactive Frack Waste Forum, the first is this: the public has a right to know that much of the process allowing radioactive waste into the central Ohio watershed near Alum Creek is the result of hidden, behind-the-scenes maneuvering by Ohio legislators and Governor John Kasich.

Second: the frack waste is undisputedly radioactive and carcinogenic. Radium 226 found at 3000% over the allowable limit by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a long-established link to many forms of cancer, including breast and bone cancer.

Third: All landfills leak. If you put radioactivity into them, it will come out.

Fourth: Ohio has become a radioactive dumping ground for the fracking industry and is not importing the waste prohibited by the regulators in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Of the eight billion gallons of toxic radioactive waste injected into underground wells in Ohio over the last 30 years, half of it came from out-of –state.

Finally: Ohio is now poised to receive 19 million cubic feet of solid radioactive shell rock waste in the near future. Our 39 licensed landfills are de-regulated and open for the toxic imports.

The day before the Forum, “fracktivists” organizers went to Columbus City Council to present their well-documented findings. A few Council members noted that they had read about the radioactivity in the local news where it has been published in both the Free Press and the Columbus Dispatch, as well as reported by the local NBC affiliate, TV 4.

When Council President Andrew Ginther asked the City’s Public Health Director Theresa Long, she immediately declared, as public health directors have done in the past, that there was no threat to the health of Ohio citizens from a large radioactive waste site sitting right next to Alum Creek. She offered no data or facts with her analysis.

City Attorney Richard Pfeiffer asks the fracktivists the key question after the meeting: “What can the City of Columbus do, considering the current Ohio laws?”

That answer would be provided at the Forum. After an introduction by organizer Carolyn Harding, a series of radioactive waste experts and activists addressed this mounting health crisis. Dr. Julie Weatherington-Rice, an environmental consultant with a doctorate in soil science from Ohio State University, explained in detail what Long missed.

“They’ve de-regulated the drill cuttings. That’s 90% of what comes out of a bore hole. The mud is regulated yet every piece of cutting is covered in mud and it dries on the rocks. So if the mud is radioactive and it dries on the rocks, it means that the cuttings are of course radioactive,” she pointed out.

Weatherington-Rice said that most of the radioactivity comes from Radium 228 and 226. These are alpha and beta emitters. What the landfills use to detect radioactivity are Geiger counters. These are designed to detect gamma emissions.

Weatherington-Rice noted that the U.S. Department of Energy protocol requires that radium is not to be field tested by a Geiger counter, but isolated in a lab for 21 days to get a proper radioactivity reading. As she pointed out, amended House Bill 59, Ohio’s 2013 budget bill, has de-regulated “90% of the waste stream with no record-keeping requirement because they are calling the material ‘beneficial use.’”

For more than 30 years, Weatherington-Rice has been one of Ohio’s leading experts on groundwater protection. Long did not consult her before answering Columbus City Council members.

Terry Lodge, an environmental attorney from Toledo, detailed the backroom dealings that allowed radioactive material to be dumped so close to Columbus’ drinking water. He spoke of new Ohio laws that permit the “downblending” of highly toxic radioactive waste into less toxic material, freeing it from regulation. He also explained how defining drill cuttings as “beneficial use” as liners in landfills it can avoid testing or monitoring.

Lodge ended by saying, “I’m an activist. I’m ready for a fight.” Lodge is famous for using “guerilla” legal and populist strategies to fight frackers and other corporate polluters.

Perhaps the most chilling presentation was given by Dr. Yuri Gorby, a microbial physiologist and ecologist, who holds the Howard N. Blitman Chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He is an expert on the physical health effects of radioactivity and fracking waste. In his talk, Gorby stated that in his studies of fracking and radioactivity he noticed a variety of physical symptoms from bloody noses, burning eyes, rashes and neurological disorders including loss of memory, loss of sense of smell, anxiety, and tremors. Gorby said that he has been able to “fingerprint” through DNA many of the rashes directly to fracking. He warned that Ohio’s desire to allow the de-regulation of drill cutting with “no monitoring” will be disastrous for the health of our citizens.

His slide show, which is available at the website mentioned earlier, showed devastating illnesses among people exposed to toxic and radioactive fracking waste.

Nathan Johnson, an environmental attorney at the Forum, quickly answered the question on what the City of Columbus can do.

“They are allowed by law to establish and charge the companies for a program that would monitor for radioactivity in a proper lab test,” he said, “As long as they weren’t selective and charged everyone bringing in drill cuttings.”

On December 3 at 7pm, the group will meet again at the Columbus Public Library on Grant Street.

originally published at the freepress.org

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Is there fracking fraud and lease flipping in Kasich’s Ohio? +Podcast

by Bob Fitrakis
April 18, 2013

The FBI and the state Inspector General’s office are investigating mineral rights lease flipping and falsification of public records in Noble County. Environmentalists claim this is a precursor to massive fracking planned in the rural Ohio area.

One family affected by this are the Bonds. They charge that state officials are harassing them and covering up the theft of gas and mineral leases at the behest of Ohio Governor John Kasich and his quest unleash the forces of fracking on rural Ohio.

The investigation focuses on Form 7, a public record that is filed with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) to identify who actually owns the mineral rights under the surface land. Each Form 7 is supposed to be accompanied by a mineral lease recorded at the County Recorder’s office.

In the Muskingum water conservancy area there are massive discrepancies between the Form 7s filed with the ODNR and the County Recorder’s records. Greg Pace, an environmental activist confirmed to the Free Press that at least one of the Form 7s appears to be fraudulent with a tampered notarized signature. “The fraudulent document has three different dates on it,” Pace commented.

The story begins with a November 10, 2011 call from Jeff and Kerri Bond to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) complaining that a brine tank owned by Jeff Miley, of Miley Gas Company, was leaking. ODNR inspector David Ball showed up and expressed little interest in the leaking Miley Gas tank. Instead, he insisted on inspecting the Bond’s gas well, which they use to heat their home. According to the Bonds, Ball told them “We’ll probably have to plug your well.”

Pace found it curious that the local inspector was “not focusing on contamination problems and didn’t want to pay a lot of attention to Miley Gas.” After the Bonds began to complain about Miley, brine from a tank began to leak into a pond on their property, creating a dead zone within the pond.

Dissatisfied with the ODNR, the Bonds turned to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA). The OPEA never showed up. Instead, ODNR inspector Ball reappeared with more ODNR employees, Gene Chini and Tom Tugend, then-Deputy Chief of Oil and Gas at the state agency. According to the Bonds, Ball then told them if they didn’t shut up they would be written up for violations.

Suddenly, the Bonds were written up for an oil and gas well on their property that had been abandoned 35 years earlier. They claimed Ball trespassed on their property without their knowledge or permission and found and tagged the abandoned well.

The Bonds allege that another ODNR inspector Cindy Van Dyne also inspected their property and told them to “keep it quiet” about the leaking brine, or they would be written up. The Bonds claim Van Dyne told them not to make any problems because “Governor Kasich doesn’t want us to make waves so we really aren’t going by the rules right now.”

On December 22, 2011, the Bonds mailed Miley a certified letter telling him to stay off their property. A copy of the letter was also sent to Tugend at the ODNR. Soon after, inspector Ball re-entered the Bond’s 176-acre farm and cited them for having a 2 foot pipe coming out of the ground without any identification. When the Bonds called Tugend to complain about the latest violation charge from Ball, they allege that Tugend told them “You don’t know how big business works, Mr. Miley is using a guess-tometer and a gentleman’s agreement.” Then the Bonds claim Tugend laughed.

A week after the Bonds mailed the certified letter, the Bonds were ordered by a state inspector to plug within 60 days 12 wells on their property that they had been unaware of. The Bonds next learned that Miley was alleged selling gas to Gatherco without any meters recording the amount. Miley purportedly purchased old gas wells for scrap from the ODNR, but then began to pump gas from them.

In investigating these allegations, the Bonds found out that Miley owned 1200 gas wells, but none had tax I.D. numbers, that all of them had been filed with the County Recorder in August 2011.

The Bonds decided to retain an attorney and began to wonder about the relationship between Miley and Tugend.

On March 6, 2013, Kerri Bond met with the Ohio Inspector General and filed a formal complaint. The complaint alleged that Tugend allowed Miley “…to turn in 16 years of false production records on wells he doesn’t have any rights to.” The complaint went on to state, that there are “no meters on any wells – no Form 7s – no tax I.D. numbers!”

They also checked the box requesting “confidentiality,”

noting they did so “due to fear of retaliation – which is already happening.” The Free Press has also learned that Kerri contacted the FBI local office in Cambridge and filed a complaint as well.

The Bonds are also alleging that the Form 7s, used in legitimate transfer of deed for mineral rights, are being falsified in their area. This is at the crux of their complaint to both the state Inspector General and the FBI.