US Environmental organisations file legal notice with the EPA over dumping of drilling and fracking waste

27 Aug 2015


A coalition of environmental organisations yesterday filed a legal notice with the US Environmental Protection Agency demanding regulations for stopping oil and gas companies from dumping drilling and fracking waste in ways that threatened public health and the environment.

This would cover Ohio injection wells for liquid drilling wastes that had triggered earthquakes as also low-level radioactive waste from drill cuttings ending up in Ohio landfills.

The 20-page notice was filed by the Environmental Integrity Project, Natural Resources Defense Council, Earthworks, Responsible Drilling Alliance, San Juan Citizens Alliance, West Virginia Surface Owners' Rights Organization and the Center for Health, Environment and Justice with an Ohio office.

They called on the EPA in a teleconference to comply with its long-overdue obligations to update waste disposal rules that should have been revised 27 years ago.

According to the groups toxic and radioactive drilling wastes should not be treated like household garbage.

For instance, the EPA needed to frame stricter controls for underground injection wells, which accepted 2 billion gallons of oil and gas wastewater every day and had been linked to earthquakes in Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas.

The federal EPA needed to ban spreading of  fracking wastewater onto roads or fields and also order landfills and ponds that meant for drilling wastes to be built with adequate liners to prevent leaks and spills, the eco-groups said.

According to the groups, led by the Environmental Integrity Project, the EPA had not taken action for years in regulating waste from the oil and gas industry.

Fracking accounted for 280 billion gallons of waste in 2012 which was enough to sink all of Washington DC beneath a 22ft-deep toxic lagoon, according to a 2013 report from Environment America, which did not join the suit.

One of the main risks of that toxic mix of water, sand and chemicals was earthquakes and Oklahoma, which had never earlier experienced seismic activity, now experienced daily tremors, which, according to scientists was linked to the use of high-volume wastewater disposal wells to store wastewater.

''When you are dealing with millions of pounds, millions of gallons of waste, it needs to be handled in a very safe way,'' Adam Kron, a lawyer at the Environmental Integrity Project, said, The Guardian reported.

Earlier in June, the Environmental Protection Agency said it found no evidence that hydraulic fracturing or fracking as it is better known, led to widespread pollution of drinking water. (See: EPA finds no evidence of pollution from fracking). 

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