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Toxic Trespass - Radioactive Brine

Photo by 2 Bro’s Media on Unsplash

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Residents Call On State Attorney General and 9 County Prosecuting Attorneys to Launch Criminal Investigations into Radioactive Pollution of Drinking Water in Ohio

Under a 2002 law, introducing radioactive elements into Ohio drinking water is a felony offense. Companies are violating this by spreading oil and gas waste “brine” — proven by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) to contain radioactive concentrations that exceed federal and state standards — in critical drinking water basins. So are state actors, residents assert.

“We have tried to bring this problem to the attention of our elected officials and have found that they are more concerned with protecting the profits of the oil/gas industry  than protecting the people, the environment or the future of the state. We have been accused of breaking the law for attempting to pass laws banning this waste in our communities and now we find out that the state is breaking its own law. This needs to be exposed and dealt with.” 

~ Kathie Jones from Medina County.

Demanding Accountability and Protection

Members of OHCRN demand prosecutorial action against the criminal use of brine from oil and gas extraction operations (“O&G brine”) as a road deicer and dust suppressant. O&G brine has been sprayed for years on Ohio’s roads under a patchwork of supposed legal authorities that ignore the profound radioactivity of such drilling wastes. Typically O&G brine in Ohio contains elevated levels of Radium-226, Radium-228 and Thorium-232, as well as their decay products. Radioisotopes exist in brine from both vertical as well as horizontal drilling activities and in all extraction waste fluids.

Supporting Documents

Presently, House Bill 282 and Senate Bill 171 are pending in the General Assembly, entitled “To enact section 1509.228 of the Revised Code to establish conditions and requirements for the sale of brine from oil or gas operations as a commodity and to exempt that commodity from requirements otherwise applicable to brine.” The bills are refreshingly candid in that they propose to classify radioactive O&G brine as a “commodity” and would authorize concentrations of up to 20,000 picocuries/liter of Radium-226 (“Ra-226"), and up to 2,500 picocuries/liter of Radium-228 (“Ra-228") to be sold and sprayed onto Ohio’s public thoroughfares.

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“I’m infuriated that we would put a radioactive processing plant on the banks of this beautiful river and the people who are allowing this should be prosecuted and put in jail. We have criminals running the government. Here in Cleveland  to have just witnessed so much celebration over the 50 year anniversary of the Cuyahoga River burning and ‘clean up,’ only to learn that the ODNR Chief has permitted a processing facility of this radioactive brine just a few feet from the banks of the Cuyahoga River. It may not burn this time, but the dangers are even worse,” ~ Paul Sherlock, Cleveland resident and activist. 

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