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The FreshWater Accountability Project Ohio (FWAPOH) today released a report on the presence and dangers of radiation present throughout the horizontal hydraulic fracturing (fracking) industry that is extracting minerals in Ohio. The report, authored by Dr. Marvin Resnikoff, a longtime expert on radioactive waste management and since 1992, on radiation hazards from oil and gas drilling, details the serious problem associated with bringing up long-buried radium and other naturally-occurring hazards from thousands of feet underground. The radiation is associated directly with the "hottest" areas of gas and oil productivity in deep shale layers and is an inevitable and burgeoning waste problem.

Resnikoff points out that much of the highly-radioactive solids such as rocks and soils pulled up during drilling, and contaminated muds and sands are cheaply disposed of in municipal landfills in Ohio, irrespective of actual radioactivity content, for 1/100th of the cost of disposal of comparable low-level radioactive waste from nuclear weapons and nuclear power generation in the nation's three facilities for that purpose. In Ohio, he stated, "It is evident that environmental concerns are trumped by the economics beneficial to the unconventional shale drilling industry." Similarly, Dr. Resnikoff identified evidence that the Patriot water treatment facility in Warren, Ohio, which delivers pretreated water to the Warren public water treatment plant, is likely sending radium-laden water into the Mahoning River watershed. "On a daily basis, Patriot does not test for gamma emitting radionuclides and for radium-226," he observed.

The expert also performed calculations showing that transport of radioactive liquid waste by tank truck greatly exceed federal thresholds which require specific tank design, minimum insurance under federal regulations of $5 million per shipment, and signage to be prominently located which identify the load as radioactive material. The report notes that all three sets of federal regulations are being routinely violated which means State of Ohio regulations are clearly inadequate for this hazardous material, and possibly illegal.

"Dr. Resnikoff's work illustrates that Ohioans, from common citizens to truck drivers to landfill workers, are daily being exposed to radiation exposure or poisoning because the Governor, General Assembly and even a large conservancy district, the MWCD, are sacrificing public protections to prop up frackers' profitability," asserted Terry Lodge, attorney for SEOSOW. "Under the guise of 'austerity,' the state government is destroying protective regulations for everyone, while creating a business environment where those who threaten public health and the environment pay little to nothing. And even huge corporate welfare breaks aren't saving this dirty, low-productivity con game."

Lea Harper, spokesperson for SOASOW and founder of FWAPOH, which commissioned the report, insisted that science will prevail over politics, and that the facts will ultimately halt the current Ohio fracking frenzy. “With these serious issues facing Ohio, all waste disposal should be stopped for the legislature to hold hearings on a bill dealing exlusively with this issue and not allow it to remain buried in a 4000 page budget bill. Someday, there will be a look back to this point, and people will wonder how fracking could be allowed at such a scale without adequate regulation or public protections in place,” stated Lea Harper. “When that happens, there will probably be criminal charges. The unfortunate outcome of all of this is once the damage is done, it’s too late. We want the truth and the true costs to be faced today - before any further fracking, waste transportation or disposal takes place.”

The report, Hydraulic Fracturing Radiological Concerns for Ohio is available online at Fact Sheet.