RAMPS Mountain Mobilization Halts Largest Strip Mine in West Virginia

(via mountainjustice.org)

More than 50 protesters affiliated with the R.A.M.P.S. Campaign have walked onto Patriot Coal’s Hobet mine and shut it down.  Ten people locked to a rock truck, boarded it and dropped banners: “Coal Leaves, Cancer Stays.”  At least three have been arrested, with another in a tree being threatened by miners with a chain saw.  Earlier in the day, two people were arrested at Kanawha State Forest before a group of protesters headed to the state capitol.

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ODNR Still Refusing to Test Frack Waste; Take Action Now!

Thank you to all who participated in Tuesday’s day of action targeting Ohio’s Division of Natural Resources.  Thanks to you, we have documentation proving that ODNR officials have received at least 36 emails and 40 calls requesting that they fulfill their obligation to the health and safety of Ohioans and begin to test the fracking waste that is being injected into 172 wells across Ohio.

Last Monday, a group of dedicated residents called further attention to the injection of untested fracking waste by blockading a fracking wastewater injection well in Vienna Township, just weeks after a similar injection well shutdown in Athens County.  Monday’s action was covered by Democracy Now!, EcoWatch, and channel 27 news, among other local and national news outlets.

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BREAKING: Residents Blockade Injection Well One Week After 1,000 Gallon Fracking Waste Spill

Tragic well-blowout kills 1 in Bolivar. 

(Follow us on Twitter @OhioFracktion for updates)

Vienna, OH – Concerned residents blocked access to an injection well in Trumbull County this morning, protesting the failure of Ohio regulators to adequately test and monitor dumping of toxic fracking waste.  One supporter locked himself to the gate to prevent all trucks carrying fracking waste from entering the site.  Two activists were detained by police, and the supporter locked to the gate was eventually and safely removed by authorities and placed under arrest.  The supporter and detained activists were all released by police without bail a few hours later.

Trumbull County residents, along with supporters from Frack Free Mahoning and Ohio Fracktion, gathered at the well site on Sodom Hutchings Road in Vienna Township, to express concerns about the contents of the 1,000 gallons of fracking wastewater that spilled along five miles of road in Fowler Township, a nearby residential area on July 7.  They are demanding that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) begin systematically testing out-of-state frack waste that is injected into over 170 wells throughout Ohio.

According to spokesperson Mike Settles, emergency responders from Ohio’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted only a simple pH test of the spilled frack waste lining the roads of Fowler Township.  As far as further testing for radiation, heavy metals, and other chemicals, Settles explained that EPA doesn’t “have the resources” to perform testing unless there is a “legitimate concern” of environmental damage.  Thick, rust colored residue was still visible on the road over a week after the spill.

Photo from CantonRep.com courtesy of Nathan Mutschelknaus

Concerns over safety will only rise as another serious and deadly accident killed 1 in Bolivar just as the injection well blockade began.  Protesters and activists express their deep sympathy with the families and friends.  These accidents are an inevitable part of the process of fracking

Liberty Township Trustee Jodi Stoyak expressed her frustration with EPA’s response in a July 12 letter to Mr. Settles, noting “many of the chemicals used in [fracking] and contained in the waste are officially classified individually as hazardous….  This, in my opinion, is a huge environmental concern.”

ODNR officials have ignored numerous written and oral requests from Ohio residents to order testing of the countless gallons of out-of-state frack waste injected underground into Ohio each year.  In response to a recent public records request asking ODNR to release all testing relevant to fracking waste, ODNR Geologist Tom Tomastik provided no results taken after 1989.

A 2011 New York Times report revealed a widespread, massive presence of radioactive materials in fracking wastewater, including levels over 1,000 times federal drinking water standards.  A recent independently tested sample of frack waste from Athens County revealed elevated levels of barium, arsenic, toluene, alpha particles, and diesel particles nearly 300,000 times the federal standard for drinking water.[1]  State Representative Bob Hagan contacted ODNR with a copy of these results[2] on June 27 and requested that ODNR begin testing frack waste, citing his “serious concern that the safety and health of Ohio citizens is in jeopardy from the chemical contents of fracking waste-water.”  As of July 16, he has received no reply.

This blockade comes just weeks after Madeline ffitch of Athens County chained herself to two barrels, blocking access to an injection well in her community.  A statewide call-in day to demand that ODNR initiate a statewide brine-testing program is scheduled for Tuesday.

“How can the ODNR possibly allow fracking companies to dump untold volumes of fracking waste in our communities if they won’t even test it? How can they reassure us that a 1,000 gallon spill of waste is safe if they don’t even know what was in the fluid that was spilled?” asks Reverend Monica Beasley-Martin, who led fellow Trumbull County residents in prayer at the site.  “We have been asking too long, and we have had enough. We need safe water, and clean air.  Ohio is not a sacrifice zone, and Ohio is not a dumping ground. ODNR: test the fracking waste now!”

July 17th: Call ODNR and demand testing of fracking waste

*Don’t forget to register for this weekend’s anti-fracking action camp!*

For years, Ohio’s Division of Natural Resources has refused numerous written and oral requests to test the millions of barrels of fracking “brine” dumped into rivers, pumped into injection wells, and spread onto roads across Ohio (e.g. last weekend’s 100+ gallon spill in Trumbull County).

Now, Ohio is fighting back, and we need your help to hold Ohio’s “regulators” accountable for their inaction.   Continue reading

Anti-Frack Action Camp July 13-15/Day of Action July 16 – Register Today!

In June, 1000 residents converged in Columbus and passed the people’s legislation to ban fracking. But our legislature and regulators are in the pocket of the gas industry, so we must enforce the legislation with our bodies, courage and actions.  Register today for the upcoming anti-fracking action camp in Youngstown!

From July 13-15, this action camp will offer a wide array of workshops including community organizing, water-testing, watchdogging the gas industry, and a panel on local control.  In addition, an extensive nonviolent direct action track will teach us the skills necessary to pull off effective anti-fracking actionsClick here for a complete list of workshops offered.

At this camp, we are excited to host trainers from Seeds of Peace, a collective with over 25 years of history of experience working for environmental justice, to share their skills in blockades and other forms of effective direct action with Ohioans fighting fracking.  And we are happy to welcome our friends from the shadbush collective, who will be leading a workshop on building urban/rural soldarity.  Beyond workshops, we hope this weekend will provide a space for effective collaboration and trans-local organizing, uniting Ohioans from across the state with our allies from Pennsylvania, Michigan, and beyond.

On July 16, we will gather in Youngstown for a day of action to enforce the People’s Legislation against fracking.  We encourage folks who cannot attend the entirety of the action camp to join us in Youngstown for the Day of Action or to organize anti-fracking action in your community on the 16th.

Housing and food will be provided, but we need you to register now so that we can meet your needs!  Click here for more information, and email ohiofracktion@gmail.com with questions.

First Fracking Brine Sample Results Show ODNR Asleep at the Wheel

*Please forward widely to media contacts*

July 2, 2012
For Immediate Release

First Fracking Brine Sample Results Show ODNR Asleep at the Wheel

Columbus, OH — Results from a sample of brine from hydraulic fracturing operations have revealed numerous hazardous materials, leaving many residents increasingly frustrated at the inaction of Ohio’s Division of Natural Resources (ODNR), the agency responsible for regulation of the State’s shale development.[1]

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