Citizens Group Questions Use of Fracking Waste on Roadways

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A citizens group on Friday petitioned nine county prosecuting attorneys and the Ohio Attorney General to investigate the use of de-icing and other products derived from oil and gas waste on public roadways.

Three local members of the Ohio Community Rights Network delivered material on the matter to the office of Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul Gains.

“We’re demanding an investigation into the spreading of toxic, radioactive oil and gas waste on our roadways, which wash into our waterways,” said local member Susie Beiersdorfer.

She said that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, some businesses and other state actors are contributing to polluting the state’s waterways.

The state uses a product derived from contaminated wastewater from oil and gas drilling operations to de-ice roadways. Beiersdorfer said these contaminants contain higher than normal levels of radioactivity, and could wash off the roads and pollute watersheds, streams, rivers and drinking water.

She noted that she is not aware of Mahoning County using such a product, but others across the state have.

“It was even sold in Lowe’s – though not around here – until Lowe’s pulled it,” Beiersdorfer said.

Two bills are before the Ohio General Assembly that would reclassify these products as commodities, affording more legal protection for their use.

“ODNR’s own testing of this material has found that it far exceeds the safe levels of radioactivity,” Beiersdorfer said.

Local members of the network across the state also delivered, or intend to deliver, informational packets to prosecutor’s offices in Athens, Cuyahoga, Franklin, Lucas, Medina, Portage, Williams and Wood counties, and to Ohio Attorney General David Yost.

Members said the use of these products on roadways threatens public health and is akin to a criminal act.

“State and private actors are violating Ohio’s criminal code by distributing and depositing radioactive oil and gas waste brine into Ohio watersheds,” Terry Lodge, an attorney for the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, said in a statement. “State agencies are also guilty of permitting private actors to participate in this practice.”

Pictured are Ohio Community Rights Network members Lynn Anderson, Susie Beiersdorfer and Hattie Wilkins

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.