Today, Cincinnati City Council voted unanimously to ban fracking injection well sites within its city limits, making Cincinnati the first city in Ohio to restrict toxic fracking wastewater from being pumped underground.
Following today’s vote, the citizen’s advocacy coalition Southwest Ohio No Frack Forum called on Ohio state legislatures to protect residents and their natural resources by banning all fracking-related activity throughout the state.
Fracking is an unconventional natural gas drilling method that involves pumping millions of gallons of water, silica sand and as many as 750 chemicals into the earth to release natural gas from hard rock formations. About half of the water used in the fracking process comes back up from the well and is so highly contaminated that it can’t be put back into the water cycle. In Ohio, this fracking wastewater is being high-pressure injected into well sites as far down as 8,000 feet below the ground.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) expects to permit more than 2,250 fracking wells by 2015, which would allow billions of gallons of toxic fracking wastewater to be pumped underground. Though local geologists claim that Cincinnati is not a favorable location for fracking, the shallow layer of sandstone makes it a desirable site for wastewater injection wells.
Fifty percent of the fracking wastewater being injected in Ohio well sites is coming from out of state, including Pennsylvania and as far away as Texas.
Alison Auciello, coalition member and an Ohio-based organizer for Food & Water Watch said, “We are happy that council has acted quickly to protect Cincinnati residents from the associated risks of underground waste disposal. We look forward their continued leadership on the issue of fracking.”
Injection of fracking wastewater into a disposal well in Youngstown was determined to be the cause of at least 11 recent earthquakes, according to the ODNR.
In their testimony at Tuesday’s committee meeting on the ordinance, citizens raised concerns about the potential for landslides resulting from increased earthquakes.
“The sludge and flammable wastes from fracking in eastern Ohio pose a health risk if they are transported here,” said No Frack Forum member Jim O’Reilly. “We applaud Cincinnati for taking the lead on saving us from the deluge of eastern Ohio’s toxic chemical wastes.”
A 2004 state law removed local zoning authority from municipalities specifically regarding the permitting of oil and gas activities. However, city council has the ability to prohibit all types of injection wells as a zoning use.
“I’m proud to be a leader in the first city council in Ohio to ban injection wells,” said Council Member Laure Quinlivan. “We’re acting to make Cincinnati cleaner, greener and smarter.”
For more information on fracking, including a list of communities that have taken action against fracking-related activities visit http://www.fwwatch.org/water/fracking. For fact sheets on Ohio fracking legislation, visit http://www.nofrackohio.com/legislation-fact-sheets
The Southwest Ohio No Frack Forum is a coalition of multiple non-profit organizations and local citizens working in tandem to protect vital water sources and infrastructure from dangerous fracking activities. Through advocacy and political action, the coalition seeks to maintain the health, safety, and welfare of citizens throughout Southwest Ohio.