Anti-fracking organizers won a victory last Saturday when Youngstown citizens were awoken by rumblings not of Santa’s hoofbeats, but another toxic earthquake from an injection well in their backyard, prompting the well’s closure. As reported in today’s edition of the Vindicator, the Ohio Division of Natural Resources has ordered the temporary closure of a D&L brine-injection well, a storage site for radioactive and carcinogenic fracking wastewater and the probable cause of at least nine earthquakes in Youngstown.
The D&L well has been the subject of widespread community outrage, Youngstown area residents have attended township meetings, staged protests, sung anti-fracking carols outside the mayor’s office, and even blockaded entrances to the D&L injection site to put a stop to the toxic earthquakes themselves in the absence of any regulatory intervention. Susie Beiersdorfer, a geologist at Youngstown State and local activist, stated that “hard work and constant pressure is paying off. It’s in the news, it’s raising people’s awareness. That’s what I’m looking forward to in 2012.”
Though residents are excited by this victory, they remain concerned about the 170+ injection wells that remain active throughout the state of Ohio. John Williams of Youngstown has urged communities to remain vigilant, stating that while “we won this battle, the war is far from over. D&L has no regard for the long term safety of our communities or water. They’ll just try to shift their dirty business from one well to another and think we won’t notice.” D&L is currently constructing yet another injection well in Hubbard, about two miles east of the recently closed site. Over a dozen protesters peppered ODNR at an information meeting and came way with local officials in arms over their lack of control or safety. Steve Beck, a nearby farmer who spoke at the meeting said “there’s no way it’s safe,” while holding up a sign reading “SOS EPA.” “They make promises that give us a false sense of security. But common sense will tell you it’s not 100 percent safe.”
Moreover, residents lack confidence in the ability of local and state regulatory agencies. Beiersdorfer and other activists recently attended a Coitsville township meeting and were shocked to find that even public officials didn’t know about the D&L injection well’s until the land was cleared. ODNR geologist Tom Tomastik was forced to admit to angry residents that spills have occurred. “One of the trucks overflowed one of the drilling-mud tanks,” Tomastik explained to The Vindicator. “It spilled out on the ground and into a ditch.”
And while thanks to tireless work of countless citizens and organizations those in Youngstown can rest easy during the temporary closure, it is clear that activists will need to continually ramp up pressure in order to put a stop to the epidemic of new injection wells that threatens Ohio’s drinking water and seismic stability. The statewide struggle against injection wells continues today at #OccupyMansfield ’s In Memory of Mansfield, Casualty of Fracking.
We need to keep building momentum in the movement against fracking across not only Ohio, or even the Utica and Marcellus shales, but around the world. Your involvement in the fight is critical – consider seeking a local ban on fracking and signing the Anti-Fracking Pledge of Resistance. The tireless organizers in Youngstown have shown that together we are strong!