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Ferry officials would like to tour recycling plant

MARTINS FERRY — City officials hope to take a tour of the Austin Masters fracking waste recycling plant at some point in the near future.

Mayor John Davies said during Wednesday’s City Council meeting that he, Water Plant Superintendent Bill Suto and other city officials are working towards talking with the plant’s manager about taking a tour of the facility.

“I want to go inside and make sure everything being done is what’s supposed to be done,” Davies said.

The tour idea comes on the heels of past concerns expressed by Bridgeport resident Bev Reed about the facility. Reed is concerned about the plant’s proximity to the city’s water treatment plant.

Davies, along with some council members, assured Reed on Wednesday the city’s water is safe to drink and meets all water quality standards.

Reed, along with Robert Reed of Bridgeport, and the Rev. Michael Ziebarth, pastor of the Greek Orthodox Christian Church of the Life-Giving Fountain in Martins Ferry, all said they are concerned about potential radioactive contaminants from the Austin Masters facility.

Bev Reed said she is concerned that, if there were to be a fire at the facility, water used to put out a blaze would make it into the aquifer that the city water plant draws from.

Davies said, however, this was unlikely to happen because of the depth and location of the aquifer.

Ziebarth said he hopes when city officials talk with state environmental officials they ask that testing be done on the water regarding radioactivity frequently.

He also believes it would be helpful if the city could have state environmental officials come to a meeting and explain the regulations regarding radioactivity and water.

“The water needs to be tested as frequently as it can be arranged,” Ziebarth said.

According to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, public water systems are tested for the following radionuclides: beta particle and photon radioactivity; combined radium-226 and radium-228; gross alpha particle activity; and uranium.

Bev Reed noted current testing standards do not call for radium testing to be conducted on a regular basis.

Robert Reed believes the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has been too accommodating of the oil and gas industry, and now people are paying for it.

“I’m really ticked off about it,” he said.

He believes frack waste recycling facilities need more oversight, too.

“I don’t think the state has regulated this properly,” Robert Reed said.

In other matters, both Davies and Service Director Andy Sutak said the city is catching up on its grass cutting duties, but the grass has been growing at a quick pace this year with the amount of rain to date. In addition to city properties, the city also cuts grass on about 55 different abandoned lots and properties.

Davies said the city has been doing more pothole patching and will continue to do so. Employees have also been working to replace old 2-inch galvanized waterlines in the Victory Road area. Such lines have frequently experienced breaks in the past and the city wants to be rid of them.

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