Commonsense standards to protect Ohio communities
Horizontal Fracking is a new way of drilling that involves injecting water, chemicals, and sand deep underground to release oil and gas from shale rock. This type of drilling is happening mostly in the Appalachian region of Ohio.
Fracking is inherently risky. There have already been a number of fires, explosions, and chemical spills in Ohio, and because we lack adequate protections, Ohio families and our natural environment have taken a beating.
Understanding what’s at stake
One of the worst examples of this occurred in the summer of 2014, when we witnessed a terrible accident at a fracking site in Clarington, Ohio. 25 families living nearby had to evacuate their homes and toxic chemicals leaked into a nearby stream. One local man reported watching in horror as black ash and debris began falling on his children as they were swimming in the backyard pool.
How did this happen?
Several trucks at a nearby fracking site caught fire, triggering a series of more than 30 explosions. The fracking operation was RIGHT next to a stream that feeds into a major drinking water source, and was within two football fields’ distance from two homes!
Immediately after the accident, emergency workers and drinking water managers weren’t sure how best to protect residents. The fracking company responsible for the fire did not release complete details to the appropriate authorities on all of the chemicals that were used and stored on site. Unfortunately, they are not even required to under Ohio law.
A fair and responsible way to keep Ohioans safe
Every industry that deals with potentially hazardous chemicals is required to follow laws to keep the public safe. Unfortunately in Ohio, the fracking industry has been given special exemptions from some of these rules.
Fracking operations pump some 750 chemicals into frack water before unleashing it underground. We know that at least 65 of these chemicals are listed as hazardous by the federal government— potentially causing kidney, liver, heart, blood, and brain damage through prolonged exposure.
And one-third of fracking fluids—including toxic chemicals—remain in the ground after drilling, posing a potential hazard to ground water drinking sources. In fact, a recent US EPA study revealed, for the first time ever, specific cases of water contamination from fracking.
First responders and the community have a right to know about these extremely hazardous chemicals through a federal law called the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know law or EPCRA. However, under existing Ohio law, fracking companies have a special exemption from reporting their hazardous chemical inventories directly to local firefighters and local emergency planners.
Think about that. Those charged with keeping us safe, those who rush to the scene of an emergency as we flee from it, are not equipped with basic information about what they’re up against. Those making sure our water is clean and safe are not entitled to know what chemicals have leaked or spilled into our drinking water, because the chemical information is considered “trade secret.”
These exemptions don’t make sense. That’s why we’re joining with Ohioans across the state to demand better, more protective safeguards for Ohio communities. We need:
- More transparency. Fracking companies should be required to notify emergency planners and respondersabout all fracking chemicals stored on-site or in-use before an accident or spill occurs. Fracking companies must also immediately share “trade secret” chemical information during emergencies. This would make sure fire departments, first responders, Ohio EPA, and drinking water authorities know what they’re up against.
- Greater distances between fracking facilities and our homes, streams, and drinking water supplies. It is unacceptable that a fracking well can be closer to a waterway than the distance between home plate and the pitcher’s mound and that there is no required distance between a fracking well and a public water supply intake. Ohio has some of the weakest setback requirements in the nation.
- Increased funding. We need additional training and equipment for state and local emergency responders to deal with the uptick in fracking emergencies. Firefighters and Ohio EPA emergency response personnel should have up-to-date tools to be able to do their job to protect the public.
Will you join us in calling on Ohio lawmakers to make these reasonable, commonsense protections a reality? Please add your name to the growing list of Ohioans who know that our state can do better. Fill out your information on this simple form if you’re interested in learning how you can join the statewide effort to act on fracking.