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20,000 Gallons of "Fracking" Waste Dumped into River in Ohio; Demonstrates Need for Tight Regulation of Industry

2 min. read

What should the penalty be for doing this?

A week after the dumping of at least 20,000 gallons of toxic and potentially radioactive fracking waste into a storm drain that empties into a tributary of the Mahoning River in Youngstown, Ohio, by Hard Rock Excavating, state regulators have yet to disclose information about the quantity of waste and the chemicals involved. Environmental advocates are urging the state to act quickly to prosecute the perpetrator and look beyond the one incident to take more aggressive steps to protect the state’s public health and environment from future threats.

The degree of chutzpah exhibited by Hard Rock in this instance is astounding—but it’s almost what you would expect in a state where we have one enforcement staffer for every 2,000 oil and gas wells,” said Julian Boggs, Environment Ohio state policy advocate, noting that it was a company whistleblower, not state regulators, who uncovered the flagrant violation.

According to this article, the penalty for such a "flagrant violation" could - and we would add, "should" - be high:

Under Ohio law, any company or individual found responsible for intentionally dumping brine is subject to either a fine of $10,000, six months in prison, or both, for a first offense. Repeat offenders are subject to a fine of $20,000, two years in prison, or both. Nathan Johnson, an attorney for the Ohio Buckeye Forest Council, said an operator that intentionally dumped brine into a storm drain could conceivably face charges from the federal government for violation of the Clean Water Act.

It seems to us that the maximum punishment should be meted out for this dangerous and illegal dumping of "toxic and potentially radioactive fracking waste" into the water.  If for no other reason, it's important to send a message to other "frackers" that this kind of behavior is completely unacceptable. More broadly, this incident underscores the need for tight regulation of the fossil fuel industry, which by the very nature of its various production processes, poses serious risks to the environment, to human health and well-being.