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Brookside mayor, council sign CORR letter to U.S. EPA

T-L Photo/CARRI GRAHAM Beverly Reed, a member of the Concerned Ohio River Residents advocacy group, speaks to Brookside Village Council about the results of a soil sample study the organization conducted that found elevated levels of radium in multiple areas outside the Austin Master Services frack waste recycling plant in Martins Ferry. Reed asked council to sign a letter urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to perform an inspection of the site.

BROOKSIDE — After hearing from members of the Concerned Ohio River Residents group, Brookside Mayor Rich Kurner and members of Village Council each signed a letter urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to inspect the ground near the Austin Master Services frack waste recycling plant.

Beverly Reed, a member of CORR, met with council Monday evening and distributed results of a recent soil sample study the organization performed near the Martins Ferry football field and water treatment plant. The results showed elevated levels of radium 226 and other radioisotopes. She said the group is concerned about the contaminants entering to the community’s drinking water.

“It’s a concern because of the waste that’s been mishandled in the area. I just wanted to update you all on that,” she told council members.

Reed said CORR sent the results of the testing to multiple agencies including the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Ohio EPA, U.S. EPA, and Ohio Department of Health.

“The results were concerning. They were like 10 times background level radiation so there’s radium in the soil on the grounds where it’s blowing up and can impact the community. And while that doesn’t affect us here in Brookside it could make its way to the aquifer eventually, especially if there’s a disaster — a fire or a flood. Over time it could accumulate more and more, so that’s why we’re trying to nip this in the bud now,” she said.

Reed said the agencies have been pushing the issue on to one another with none “stepping up to really regulate things.” In order to encourage the U.S EPA to inspect the area, she said CORR is collecting signatures.

“The U.S. EPA can come in and do an inspection of the whole facility and see what is the real threat to our aquifer,” she said.

Reed asked council members to sign a letter the group plans to send to the U.S. EPA. Kurner, who already had read the letter prior to the meeting, signed the document.

Councilman Roger Stewart inquired as to what Reed wants council to do.

“Outside of making our concerns known, there’s not much more we can do,” he added.

Reed said CORR members are hoping the letter will prompt the U.S. EPA to come into the area to perform an inspection. She said she and her father, Rob, recently met with the U.S. EPA Region 5 administrator, who said she would look at the information collected by CORR. Region 5 covers Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and 35 Tribes.

“Basically what we are asking you all to do is to help us prompt them to do it. The U.S. EPA is slow, they take a long time doing things, and we want them to come sooner rather than a year from now,” she said, adding that the letter is only requesting an investigation. “The letter’s not asking them to shut any businesses down or anything like that. It’s only asking for an investigation and environmental testing.”

After some further discussion, council members passed the letter around, adding their names to the list of signatures.

Rob Reed, also a member of CORR, added that the group is working to raise awareness and get residents involved.

“We’re not trying to make any misstatements or be raising alarms that are really not there. All we want to do is have these people come in and do their job and protect our health,” he said.

Later on in the meeting, Stewart brought up the issue raised by CORR.

“If you stop and think about what they’re talking about, that’s our water supply. We already had our water wells shut down because of something else was in there that we were drinking,” he said regarding Bridgeport’s water wells containing PFAS in 2020 leading to the closure of the wells.

“There’s a lot of people being supplied that water, not just Martins Ferry.”

Kurner agreed, adding that it is a “scary” situation. He said he attended a previous meeting in Adena where he listened to the scientist who assisted CORR with the soil sample results speak on the matter.

“What they’re worried about is the trucks are coming in and out (of the plant) and the material’s on the tires, so it’s outside the plant. What they’re worried about is if we have a bad storm or a heavy rain, the storm sewers down there are all clogged and all that water is going to run off … ,” he said. “What they want is the trucks cleaned off before they leave the building, and they’re not cleaning the trucks.”

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