What would DeWine do about reality impacting Belmont County?

Would Gov. Mike DeWine have said anything about Austin Master Services during the recent grand re-opening of East Ohio Regional Hospital if he knew how absurdly close the radioactive oil and gas waste processing facility is to the Martins Ferry hospital?

If DeWine had read in the Columbus Dispatch that Austin Master processes oil and gas drill cuttings and filter socks, some of which are so highly radioactive that they must be sent to Utah because no local landfill can accept the waste, and it is just 2,500 feet from the hospital he was touting, and not to mention Martins Ferry high school’s football field just down the street as well, would he have anything to say?

What if he knew that Austin Master operates on top of the aquifer that feeds Martins Ferry’s drinking water wells, and is only a few hundred feet from the water plant? What if he would’ve read in the article that his Ohio Department of Natural Resources has yet to write rules on such facilities, leading to no enforcement? ODNR’s own reports reveal that Austin Master is potentially contaminating the community with radioactive material because of poor and negligent operations, and they just recently decided to write draft rules on these facilities, eight years after they were ordered to do so by Ohio lawmakers, and those rules were published the day after the Dispatch article came out.

Politics are a funny thing when you can be touting a facility for votes while just down the road you have a frack pad next door to a daycare center (St. Clairsville), an injection well being drilled right along a busy state route, a major highway, two colleges, and many county buildings (Omni). There is another injection well planned for the backyard of Union Local High School (TrooClean), more than 700 permitted frack pads in the same county (the most in Ohio), a petrochemical plastics plant proposed for the banks of a drinking water source and in a floodplain (PTTGC), and a radioactive waste facility next to a hospital and football field.

Maybe if DeWine also read the Frackalachia report by the Ohio River Valley Institute, he would see that during the fracking “boom,” Appalachian Ohio actually saw a decrease in population and jobs, and the money by and large did not stay in the area. It isn’t about being an environmentalist, or being pro or anti fracking. It is about looking at the reality of the situation and seeing it for what it is, and the reality is that we have gotten a bad deal.

There are some very powerful reports coming out of the Ohio River Valley Institute stressing the need for the valley to transition to a sustainable future. They’ve also offered economic alternatives to these fracking and petrochemical plans, and we are encouraging our leaders to take us in a better direction.

The Ohio Valley has endless potential. Why squander it by ruining the natural resources and leaving future generations to clean up the mess?

As a resident of Belmont County, it is shameful to see what is happening here. State of Ohio, you can do better. Learn more at concernedohioriverresidents.org.

Beverly Reed is a Bridgeport resident and an environmental activist. She is a member of Concerned Ohio River Residents, a group that opposes natural gas and oil industry development and supports green initiatives.


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