Columbus Arrests Result from Demands that ODNR Properly Regulate Fracking Waste Fluids
A group of about 25 protesters, who gathered to walk to Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) division of Mineral Resouces Management(MRM) in Columbus, were stopped outside of the security gate of the state facility's complex on Wednesday, at approximately 11:00am. The small group was met on the grounds by three Columbus police cruisers and a "paddy wagon". A security spokesperson for ODNR met the group, and designated an area where they could remain to assemble the protest outside of the security gate. The group, led by Ohio residents Ben Shapiro and Jonathan Sidney, demanded that they be allowed to enter ODNR property, which is public property, to present their demands to Chief Simmers, the chief of the MRM division. The ODNR security spokesperson would not allow the group to enter the grounds, and said he would deliver their demands to chief of DMRM and that they would get a response. When the group waited for almost an hour and was not satisfied with the response, three protestors breached the police barrier and marched toward the security gate to enter the complex. They made their demands and were then arrested by police. The three men were Jonathan Sidney, Mathew Wengerd, and Darrien Lamar Michell.
The list of demands the group presented in writing included foremost that ODNR initiate a statewide program of testing for injection material samples from every company that injects brine into Ohio injection wells and that these results be immediately released. Chief Simmers has the authority to order testing, but this has never been done in Ohio.
The second demand stated that ODNR must hold a public meeting to address resident concerns regarding injection wells in the state within one week.
The third demand was that ODNR improve the written records policy that guarantees resident access to public records within five business days. Recently, several state residents have visited the office to view and scan records related to the practice of spreading fracking waste fluid on rural county roads (typically referred to as "brine" water, disposed of in this manner as an ice inhibitor and for dust control), and records for specific injection wells that are located in Ohio. Access to fully public records was not percieved by those who requested them to have been completely forthcoming from the division.
A primary concern of many Ohio residents about the regulation of gas drilling (hydrofracking) in Ohio is how the toxic waste fluids are disposed of. Fracking wastes frequently include levels of highly-carcinogenic benzene and radioactive heavy metals that can be in concentrations that are hundreds of times (in some cases millions of times) over the EPA-established limits determined for public safety. These substances have never been tested or required to be tested as they arrive and are transported through Ohio from other states such as Pennsylvania and West Virginia, to be injected underground into many of the now more than 180 injection wells located in Ohio, and to be spread on roads in many counties in the state.