Judy Vershum
Download: Audio icon 00399.mp3

I find it disturbing that people who rely on the Meander Reservoir for their drinking water aren’t outraged by ODNR’s permitting of frack wells in our protected watershed. I suppose it is possible that they don’t know where their water comes from. Heads up, people of Canfield, Boardman, Austintown, Youngstown, Niles, Jackson Township etc. It’s more likely that they drank the industry and ODNR Kool-Aid, and believe that unconventional shale gas hydro fracking is safe—it is not. They no doubt believe there are plenty of regulations in place that will protect them.

Actually, there are many laws and regulations in place. Unfortunately, they are designed to protect the industry- not the people. ODNR’s job is to oversee and facilitate the use of Ohio’s natural resources. They have done a great job of facilitating, but a really poor job of oversight. Remember the earthquakes? ODNR dragged their feet for months, before they finally conceded that Northstar 1 was the cause. Also, it was a whistle blower that exposed D&L for dumping toxic flow back down a storm drain. ODNR very publicly took the credit for job well done.

So if ODNR won’t protect our water, who will? Maybe the Ohio EPA? Nope. They are only authorized to step in after an environmental accident has occurred. How about our local government officials? Can we count on them to act in the best interest of we the people? Nope. Their authority to regulate oil and gas extraction via zoning was stripped by the state legislature in 2004. Besides, most local officials are as clueless about unconventional gas extraction from shale as are their constituents. For example, our Mahoning County Commissioners sold 8.25 million gallons of our Meander water to CNX to frack in our watershed. Also, tanker trucks, many from out of state, were regularly filling up with our treated water from a hydrant in front of the Youngstown Water Department. The water department has recently built a filling station on their property to enable the sale of MORE water.

Now, For the Really Bad News. Consider the tragic spill that occurred in the Elk River in West Virginia. There had been no federal or state inspections of the facility since 1991. Also, not much is known about either of the two chemicals that spilled- how to remove it from water or its effects on the people who ingested it. Fortunately the flow of the Elk River carried most of the toxic chemicals downstream. So what if, God forbid a spill or blow-out were to occur that rendered our Meander water undrinkable? THERE IS NO DOWNSTREAM. IT DOESN”T FLOW. One significant spill of a substance that can’t be removed from water (and there are many used in the fracking process) and its GAME OVER!