April 15th, SALEM, OH. One week before the second anniversary of the BP Deep Water Horizon explosion that killed 11 workers and spilled over 210,000,000 gallons of oil into gulf of Mexico, Annie Lukins, Jeremy Bingham, and Jonathan Sidney were arrested for shutting down a private BP Lease Signing ‘party’ whose goal was to acquire 84,000 acres in Trumbull County for fracking. From start to finish only one motorcyle and car entered during the 2 hour protest instead of the 50-100 expected, and the meeting was then shut down early preventing at least hundreds of acres from being leased.
Two dozen protesters gathered outside the former South Range Road middle school in Greenford, OH to give landowners information about the chemicals involved in fracking, dangers to their health and property, the need for water testing, and BP’s explosive track record of environmental disasters and danger to workers. BP has been cited 760 times for willful safety violations in just last three years by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, significantly more than any other American oil company.
When some activists entered the building they were physically assaulted by staff who attempted to prevent them from speaking with landowners. Annie Lukins of Cleveland, Oh, was assaulted by BP and then detained by Police. Assault charges have been filed against lease signing organizers.
Organizers of the lease signing escalated by calling in 4 large tractors, one carrying manure, to drive through protesters gathered on the sidewalk and park with engines running on the lawn between concerned citizens and the meetings inside. Despite this, activists were able to give water testing and leasing information to landowners and soon. David Wasilko from Lorain County said, “We’re here to support landowners and make sure they know what BP won’t tell them. We all live in Ohio and drink the water and want to make sure our families and neighbors are protected from the dangers of fracking.”
Fracking is known to cause ground and surface water contamination from the methane released from exploded shale and the over 700 toxic chemicals used in the fracking fluid. Residents within the targeted leasing area are so concerned about the devastating on health and land value that they’re forced to consider leaving their homes. Patti Gorcheff lives less than 5 miles away from where the meeting took place and has put her house up for sale because she fears the effects of fracking on her neighborhood. “They’re going to be drilling all around me. I have a water well and I’m not willing to risk it. I still have a mortgage like most people and if my water goes bad my house is worth nothing. I’m concerned about my children [and] what it’s going to do to them.”
In regards to his actions, Jonathan Sidney said, “I did not intend to be arrested today, but I did intend to stop the sale of Trumbull County to the environmental terrorists of BP. I will be happy in jail knowing that I helped throw a wrench in BP’s plot to destroy Ohio.”