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U.S. Steel: New spills add to legacy of steelmaking pollution

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U.S. Steel’s plan to off-load its Hamilton property is complicated by a legacy of historic pollution — but spills continue right up to the present day.

Ministry of Environment figures show the steelmaking plant reported about 170 spills to land or water over the past decade, although only four “relatively small” releases have been recorded this year, said district manager Geoffrey Knapper.

He was unable to quickly provide details about the size of the spills or the contaminants involved, citing the amount of time needed to search records. But environmental regulations since 2005 have required reporting of any discharge that “may” harm the environment.

Spills could include industrial chemicals, oils or sewage — for example, one reported spill this year involved 136 litres of liquid that contained ammonia. But more commonly reported incidents in recent years include spilled industrial cooling water, which is slightly acidic.

Overall there have been 85 spills to land and 85 to water since 2003, with the worst year coming shortly after Stelco was bought by U.S. Steel. The plant has faced land or water environmental penalties totalling $33,910, mostly related to sewage.

But spills have dropped dramatically since 2008, when 51 were recorded. The changes coincide with plant equipment upgrades, but also new penalties and ministry regulations on spill prevention. Only one spill to land per year has been recorded since 2011.

The Spectator couldn’t reach U.S. Steel Canada spokesperson Trevor Harris Tuesday. But in documents filed seeking court protection for restructuring, the company called itself a “good environmental steward” since it acquired Stelco in 2007, pointing to “significant investments and improvements” in pollution control.

It also says the company is not aware of any “ongoing offsite contaminant discharges,” but acknowledges “a number of spills” over the past century.

“The nature and extent of these legacy environmental impacts are not fully known,” says the court filing.

MORE: U.S. Steel situation adds uncertainty to reef cleanup

The lack of public information about even recent pollution is “frustrating for residents who deserve to be in the know,” said Environment Hamilton head Lynda Lukasik, who argued the ministry should post basic information about spills online.

Lukasik said it’s encouraging to see numbers that suggest improvements over time, but “without context, it’s hard to know what they really mean.”

The worst contamination on the property “is likely attributed to a large extent to historical operations,” said Knapper, noting steelmaking on the site dates back a century. The provincial environment ministry was established in 1972.

A large chunk of the property is actually fill dumped into the harbour — much of it slag, rocky debris left over from smelting. Knapper said examples of expected pollution from long-term steelmaking include chlorinated solvents, heavy metals, oils and polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs).

Even though the company has indicated it wants to off-load the property, Knapper said the ministry expects U.S. Steel to come up with a “responsible site management plan” that covers “current and historic” pollution.


mvandongen@thespec.com

New interactive map from the Center for Effective Government shows students in proximity to toxic chemicals

1 in 3 U.S. students attend classes near dangerous chemicals

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Lubbock Online, Oct. 5, 2014

Roughly one in five school-aged kids attend classes near a Lubbock County facility that stores dangerous chemicals, about twice as many as originally thought, according to a recent study.

The numbers likely could be higher.

Self-reported industry data tucked away in federal reading rooms across the United States show two of the known six facilities storing dangerous chemicals in Lubbock have a vulnerability zone wider than a 1-mile radius, according to a study by the Center for Effective Government, which released a new report last week.

That means there are roughly 9,500 students in 27 schools across the county who attend class near a facility that uses dangerous chemicals.

In May, A-J Media found about 4,200 students were at risk, but that number only reflected students attending class within a mile of a chemical facility. And it did not include detention facilities or private schools.

Researchers were only able to examine a limited number of the nation’s more than 12,000 chemical facilities. The center only examined two of the six facilities in the Hub City — Bayer CropScience and the Lubbock Water Treatment Plant.

Three of the four facilities with dangerous chemicals near Lubbock Independent School District campuses use and store anhydrous ammonia, a volatile chemical that can suffocate, burn the skin and cause blindness. In large quantities, it can be fatal. It is commonly used for refrigeration, among other uses.

Across the U.S., one in three students attends school in a vulnerability zone identified from self-reported industry data, the center reported.

New interactive map from the Center for Effective Government shows students in proximity to toxic chemicals

Lubbock ISD Superintendent Berhl Robertson Jr. did not comment on the new study, but said in May he was not aware of all the chemical facilities near district schools, many of which are 50 years and older.

“Lubbock ISD has a plan for emergencies that impact our schools, both natural disasters and accidents, and we practice those plans,” Nancy Sharp, a district spokeswoman, said in an email to A-J Media.

Chris Wooden, whose wife is expecting their first child next month, called the report “startling and alarming.”

“It’s past the point of needing awareness to where something egregious is going on,” Wooden said.

“With chemical companies not making available the chemicals they are storing without prodding from the government and action groups, it’s scary.”

‘It only takes one bad day’

Roughly 865,000 pounds of toxic chemicals are stored at and used in Lubbock facilities, according to data compiled by the Center for Effective Government, a Washington, D.C., organization that advocates for better health and safety standards.

The city of Lubbock reported that the water treatment plant near the airport on North Guava Avenue has a vulnerability zone of 8 miles, meaning everything within that reported radius could be at risk of a chemical catastrophe.

The Bayer CropScience facility on Erskine Street, which had a spill and evacuation last year in the Guadalupe neighborhood, reported a 2.4-mile vulnerability zone.

There has been growing public concern about public safety in the wake of last year’s deadly fertilizer plant explosion in the small town of West, near Waco and about 340 miles southeast of Lubbock.

“The West Texas fertilizer plant handled their chemicals safely for decades,” said Sean Moulton, director of the Open Government Policy program at the Center for Effective Government.

While the public has pressed for more information about where dangerous chemicals are stored, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has clamped down on releasing it.

Abbott, the Republican nominee for governor, has faced withering criticism from his Democratic challenger Wendy Davis and the public after he suggested in July that people drive to facilities and ask what chemicals are being used.

On July 10, after a local facility refused to release any information during a walk in, A-J Media requested information on hazardous chemicals that is required to be filed with the Lubbock Fire Department.

The city has not released any information.

In an Aug. 7 letter to Abbott’s office requesting an opinion, Assistant City Attorney Amy Sims said the information was exempt from disclosure.

Sims, citing Abbott’s earlier opinion, wrote that releasing the location and amounts of dangerous chemicals “may pose a risk to citizens of the city in the case of a terrorist attack.”

Abbott’s office has until Wednesday to respond.

“You have an attorney general down in Texas saying we need to hide this information as though the information was dangerous, not the chemical,” Moulton said.

“People have a right to know if there’s a risk.”

By NICOLE C. BRAMBILA, A-J MEDIA


View the report on kids at risk HERE

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Thugs, Cancer, Radioactive Wastes – EPA Again Sitting on Their Hands

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Republic Services sent several of their men – young men—to stand out in front of the hall where a community meeting was being held to hand out corporate propaganda. Imagine walking from your car, after leaving your young child who is suffering from brain cancer at home, to be met by men from the company that you believe is responsible for exposures. “Just clean up the waste, dig it up and take it out of our community,” was the response of one of the local moms.

Republic had a lot of nerve coming to this meeting and leafleting people as they entered the building. Their signs making it look like people were the barrier to EPA cleaning up the site, but its Republic Services that wants to leave the waste where it is, which was the EPA plan before the underground fire. How heartless can you be? Families just learned that there was a significant childhood cancer cluster in the community that surrounds Republic’s radioactive and burning garbage dumps.

One woman told the Republic thugs – what she called them – that she has had both breast removed from cancer and her best friend has lupus. The state health department believes there is a problem, the Attorney General filed a lawsuit because of a problem and the community has a registry that documents health and environmental problems with Republic Services wastes. She was angry, “How dare they send thugs to our meeting of moms, dads and seniors who are sick and tired of Republic’s refusal to do the right thing.”

This community located in St. Louis Missouri area have been fighting to obtain relocation for families living around this site. There are two dumpsites one with garbage that is burning underground and the other is a radioactive waste site. At the meeting one woman spoke up and said, “Do you know what it’s like to tuck your children in at night and then lay in bed waiting for a siren to tell you the fire has reached the radioactive wastes and likely radioactive materials are traveling through the air into your home. It’s terrifying. I can’t move, I can’t stay and I can’t protect my babies.”

Republic Services has enough money to buy the families homes and properly clean up the waste sites. Last year they earned $8.4 billion in revenues and $589 million in profits. If they did the right and responsible thing by moving people and properly cleaning up the wastes they would still have plenty of profits to go around. But instead they send their thugs to picket outside the meeting of Republic Services victims.

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates owns 29 percent of the company’s shares through Cascade Investment, LLC – about $4 billion worth. This includes 16 million shares (worth $645 million) purchased in 2014 alone. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also owns 1.35 million shares of Republic stock. Gates chief investment officer at Cascade Investment, has been a Republic Services board director since 2009. When Republic pays a $0.28/share quarterly dividend in October 2014, Bill Gates and his Foundation will receive $27.6 million.

CHEJ working with the community are circulating a petition to push Bill Gates to use his power of the vote to move Republic to evacuate families who need to leave and clean up the two sites to remove the hazards. Please help us by signing the petition.

Associated Press Photo

California Becomes First State to Ban Single-Use Plastic Bags

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By FENIT NIRAPPIL, Associated Press

Associated Press Photo


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed the nation’s first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags at grocery and convenience stores, driven to action by pollution in streets and waterways.

A national coalition of plastic bag manufacturers immediately said it would seek a voter referendum to repeal the law, which is scheduled to take effect in July 2015.

Under SB270, plastic bags will be phased out of checkout counters at large grocery stores and supermarkets such as Wal-Mart and Target starting next summer, and convenience stores and pharmacies in 2016. The law does not apply to bags used for fruits, vegetables or meats, or to shopping bags used at other retailers. It allows grocers to charge a fee of at least 10 cents for using paper bags.

State Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, credits the momentum for statewide legislation to the more than 100 cities and counties, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, that already have such bans.

The law marks a major milestone for environmental activists who have successfully pushed plastic bag bans in cities across the U.S., including Chicago, Austin and Seattle. Hawaii is also on track to have a de-facto statewide ban, with all counties approving prohibitions.

“This bill is a step in the right direction — it reduces the torrent of plastic polluting our beaches, parks and even the vast ocean itself,” Brown said in a signing statement. “We’re the first to ban these bags, and we won’t be the last.”

Plastic bag manufacturers have aggressively pushed back through their trade group, the American Progressive Bag Alliance, which aired commercials in California blasting the ban as a cash-giveaway to grocers that would lead to a loss of thousands of manufacturing jobs.

“If this law were allowed to go into effect, it would jeopardize thousands of California manufacturing jobs, hurt the environment and fleece consumers for billions so grocery store shareholders and their union partners can line their pockets,” Lee Califf, executive director of the manufacturer trade group, said in a statement.

Padilla, the bill’s author, said Californians would reject a referendum effort and quickly adapt their behavior to help the environment.

“For those folks concerned about the 10 cent fee that may be charged for paper, the simple elegant solution is to bring a reusable bag to the store,” Padilla said.

Shoppers leaving a Ralphs supermarket Tuesday in downtown San Diego were divided as they weighed the legislation’s environmental benefits against its costs. San Diego does not ban plastic bags.

“With the amount of waste that we produce, we can try to help out by slightly inconveniencing ourselves,” said Megan Schenfeld, 29, whose arms were full of groceries in plastic bags after leaving reusable bags at home.

Robert Troxell, a 69-year-old former newspaper editor, said the fees are more than an inconvenience for retirees living on fixed incomes like him. He shops daily because he has only a small refrigerator in his hotel for low-income seniors.

“It becomes a flat tax on senior citizens,” said Troxell, who lives off social security and other government assistance. “I have not disagreed with Jerry Brown on anything — until this.”

The American Forest and Paper Association, a trade group representing paper bag makers, says the bill unfairly penalizes consumers who use their commonly recycled products, while holding reusable plastic bags to a lower standard for recyclable content.

Responding to the concerns about job losses, the bill includes $2 million in loans for plastic bag manufacturers to shift their operations to make reusable bags. That provision won the support of Los Angeles Democratic Sens. Kevin De Leon and Ricardo Lara, who had blocked earlier versions of the legislation.

Lawmakers of both parties who opposed SB270 said it would penalize lower-income residents by charging them for bags they once received for free. The bill was amended to waive fees for customers who are on public assistance and limit how grocers can spend the proceeds from the fees.

Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Puerto Rico also have pending legislation that would ban single-use bags, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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Associated Press writer Elliot Spagat in San Diego contributed to the report.

Follow Fenit Nirappil at www.twitter.com/FenitN .


From HuffPost Green

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New Additions to EPA’s “TRI for Communities” Web Page

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The EPA has added new materials to their “TRI for Communities” web page, which helps communities understand and utilize information from the Toxics Release Inventory.

New resources include the TRI Fotonovela, an English and Spanish introduction to TRI, and new “community snapshots”  for TRI community engagement pilot projects in Jurupa Valley, California and Tonawanda, New York.

Visit TRI for Communities to learn more about these and other resources.

Wind,solar

Wind, Solar Generation Capacity Catching Up with Nuclear Power

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Washington, D.C.—-Advocates of nuclear energy have long been predicting its renaissance, yet this mode of producing electricity has been stalled for years. Renewable energy, by contrast, continues to expand rapidly, even if it still has a long way to go to catch up with fossil fuel power plants, writes Worldwatch Institute Senior Researcher Michael Renner in the Institute’s latest Vital Signs Online analysis (bit.ly/NuclearRE).

Nuclear energy’s share of global power production has declined steadily from a peak of 17.6 percent in 1996 to 10.8 percent in 2013. Renewables increased their share from 18.7 percent in 2000 to 22.7 percent in 2012.

Following a rapid rise from its beginnings in the mid-1950s, global nuclear power generating capacity peaked at 375.3 gigawatts (GW) in 2010. Capacity has since declined to 371.8 GW in 2013, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. Adverse economics, concern about reactor safety and proliferation, and the unresolved question of what to do with nuclear waste have put the brakes on the industry.

In stark contrast, wind and solar power generating capacities are now on the same soaring trajectory that nuclear power was on in the 1970s and 1980s. Wind capacity of 320 GW in 2013 is equivalent to nuclear capacity in 1990. The 140 GW in solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity is still considerably smaller, but growing rapidly.

In recent years, renewable energy has attracted far greater investments than nuclear power.  According to estimates by the International Energy Agency (IEA), nuclear investments averaged US$8 billion per year between 2000 and 2013, compared with $37 billion for solar PV and $43 billion for wind. Individual countries, of course, set diverging priorities, but nowhere did nuclear have a major role in power generation investments.

In contrast with investment priorities, research budgets still favor nuclear technologies. Among members of the IEA (most European countries, the United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand), nuclear power has received the lion’s share of public energy research and development (R&D) budgets during the last four decades. Nuclear energy attracted $295 billion, or 51 percent, of total energy R&D spending between 1974 and 2012. But this number has declined over time, from a high of 73.6 percent in 1974 to 26 percent today. Renewable energy received a cumulative total of $59 billion during the same period (10.2 percent), but its share has risen year after year.

Because wind and solar power can be deployed at variable scales, and their facilities constructed in less time, these technologies are far more practical and affordable for most countries than nuclear power reactors. Worldwide, 31 countries are operating nuclear reactors on their territories. This compares to at least 85 countries that have commercial wind turbine installations.

The chances of a nuclear revival seem slim. Renewable energy, by contrast, appears to be on the right track. But it is clear that renewables have a long way to go before they can hope to supplant fossil fuels as the planet’s principal electricity source. The expansion of sources like wind and solar will have to become even more rapid in order to stave off climate disaster, and that in turn means that their fate cannot be left to the whims of the market alone.

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Air near chemical plant remains polluted long after it closed

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The air near a mid-Michigan chemical plant that was closed for cleanup nearly 40 years ago because it threatened the environment remains contaminated with chemicals even today, according to a recent Indiana University study.

The study, published Sept. 11 in Environmental Science and Technology, concludes that people living within six miles of the 54-acre former site of the Velsicol Chemical Co. “are still being subject to relatively high levels of HBB, PBBs, and DDTs in the air they breathe.”

Those are among the chemicals that prompted federal regulators to designate the chemical factory in St. Louis, Mich. a Superfund site in 1982. The cleanup of that site, the nearby Pine River and the city itself has cost millions of dollars and continues today.

“People can’t control what they breathe,” said Angela Peverly, lead author on the study, explaining the significance of the research.

The study does not conclude if the air contamination can cause immediate or long-term harm to human health.   It could heighten awareness of the contamination and possibly encourage outside help to assess that health threat, said Marcus Cheatham, health officer for the Mid-Michigan District Health Department, which serves Clinton, Gratiot and Montcalm counties.

His agency has helped Emory University in Atlanta draw the blood of St. Louis residents who are concerned about the contamination. Emory University is providing toxicology testing.

The health agency is looking for a definitive dangerous threshold of contamination in humans so it can educate the people of St. Louis about what medical tests are needed and at what levels they should be performed, Cheatham said.

The Indiana researchers tested for an alphabet soup of chemicals that the Velsicol plant used to produce. DDT is the pesticide dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane. PBB refers to the fire retardant polybrominated biphenyls. And HBB is hexabromobiphenyl, a chemical related to PBB. For comparison, they also tested for other chemicals not produced by Velsicol.

Dan and Becki Childs put their house up for sale after losing several large trees to the DDT cleanup. Image: Dan Childs

Some St. Louis residents put their house up for sale. Image: Dan Childs

“Clearly, the levels of HBB, DDT, and PBBs are elevated close to the manufacturing site with a sharp decrease” after six miles, the study reports.

To assess air quality, Peverly studied tree bark surrounding the Velsicol site. Bark gives an accurate measurement of atmospheric conditions over three to 10 years, the amount of time the bark is on the tree, she said.

Researchers collected 43 bark samples throughout central Michigan. The large sample area allowed them to check for patterns of concentrations.   They tested three different trees at each site.

The study found that concentrations of DDT, banned in the United States in 1972, are about 18 times higher in bark collected near the Velsicol site than that collected more than a half of a mile from it.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exposure to DDT “could possibly cause cancer in humans.” Less severe effects of DDT exposure include headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and tremors, with symptoms subsiding once exposure has ended.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is now overseeing the replacement of DDT-contaminated soil in nearly 100 residential yards in St. Louis. Cleanup experts believe that wind blew much of that contamination from the nearby factory site to the yards before the site was cleaned up. That cleanup was sparked in part by the discovery of birds that died from exposure to DDT.

Concentrations of PBB were at least 100 times higher in bark within a half of a mile of the site than in bark 60 miles away, the study reported.

HBB concentrations were about 150 times greater within a half of a mile of the site than those farther away.

PBB exposure has been linked to a number of different health problems, but it cannot be fully established that PBB is the sole cause of these health issues, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a federal public health agency.

According to the agency, “If you breathe air that contains PBBs, or swallow food, water, or soil contaminated with PBBs, they can enter your body through your lungs and stomach and pass into the bloodstream.” However, very little is known about the health of people who are exposed to low levels of PBBs for long periods by eating, breathing, or skin contact.

Jane Keon, secretary of the Pine River Superfund Citizen Task Force, said that even if the highest DDT concentration found in the bark does not affect people, the ecological effects of it are unknown.

The EPA has been removing trees from the town as part of the cleanup and offering the wood from the trees as firewood, she said. In her opinion the agency should stop giving the wood away as firewood.

Instead, the trees should be burned in an incinerator or buried in a hazardous waste disposal area, she said.

The EPA did not respond to numerous requests for comment.

According to the researchers, this is the first published study concerning air quality around the Velsicol Superfund site. In 2000, the EPA monitored air quality during attempts to remove contamination but the EPA did not release the data.

The study suggests that there should be air monitoring of all Superfund cleanup sites, especially those sites requiring soil remediation, Peverly said.

A History of Contamination

In 1973, two chemicals produced at the then-Michigan Chemical Corp. were accidentally switched. The PBB fire retardant was mislabeled as magnesium oxide, a mineral intended for use as a nutritional additive for dairy cow and other livestock feed.

As a result, PBB was added to livestock feed, causing widespread contamination of cows and other livestock. The contamination exposed the public to PBBs through meat and milk. When the accident was discovered, thousands of animals were slaughtered.

Following the accident, state regulators investigated the plant.  It had stopped PBB production in 1974. Michigan Chemical merged with Velsicol in 1976 and Velsicol closed the plant in 1978.

In 1982, the EPA reported heavy contamination of PBB, DDT, and HBB at the site.  Velsicol, the state of Michigan and the EPA entered into an agreement that Velsicol remove contaminated soil, construct a slurry wall around the former plant site and put a clay cap over it to contain remaining chemicals.

The former chemical plant was designated a Superfund site, which according to the EPA, is an uncontrolled site containing hazardous waste that can affect local people or ecosystems. The designation also makes it eligible for federal cleanup fund.

Later, regulators discovered that the slurry wall leaked and that the  sediments in the nearby Pine River, which borders the former plant site, were heavily contaminated. In 1998, the EPA beganclean up of the Pine River, a process that cost more than $100 million until it was finished in 2006.

Contamination of the fish in the river dramatically dropped, but a 1982 no consumption warning for all species of fish remains in effect.

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Register for the Global Frackdown!

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Over 200 organizations will come together on October 11th for a day of protests against fracking.

Read more and register, or

Sign up as a partner organization.

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Childhood Cancer On The Rise

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Childhood brain cancer cluster found in St. Louis, MO. Read more.

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Citizen Groups Urge W.Va. Governor to Rethink Oil and Gas Drilling Under Ohio River

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Yesterday, citizen groups on both sides of the Ohio River sent a letter to W.Va. Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, requesting that he withdraw a proposal that would allow drilling for natural gas under the Ohio River. They also requested a meeting with the governor.

In late August, the groups alerted one another to a disturbing legal notice in area newspapers: Until September 25, the W.Va. Department of Commerce, Division of Natural Resources is taking bids that will allow the successful bidder to drill for Marcellus- and Utica-shale-derived natural gas beneath the Ohio River in Pleasants, Marshall and Wetzel counties.

Although a news report quotes W.Va. Governor Early Ray Tomblin as saying, “The proposed development is in the best economic interests of the state and will not unreasonably disrupt use and enjoyment of the Ohio River or the division’s opportunities to develop other mineral interests in the area,” the citizen groups are highly skeptical of the wisdom of drilling under the Ohio River.

“The 981 miles of the Ohio River provide drinking water to more than five million people. Ten percent of the country lives in the Ohio River Basin. Considering the multiple dire water situations we are seeing nationwide — such as drought out west, coal-chemical contamination of 300,000 people’s water supply in West Virginia, drinking water at peril from fracking waste around the country — we should be doing everything possible to safeguard our water. Drilling under the Ohio River is a huge risk,” says Roxanna Groff of the Athens County Fracking Action Network.

Groff’s group and several others recently successfully worked together to convince the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to extend the comment period on a fracking waste barge dock permit proposed for Portland, Meigs County, Ohio.

In coming together to question this latest threat to the Ohio River, the groups point out that since 2005, according to federal law (42 U.S. Code § 15941), “No Federal or State permit or lease shall be issued for new oil and gas slant, directional, or offshore drilling in or under one or more of the Great Lakes.”

“There are protections for the water in Lake Erie needed for drinking water in the northern part of the state — why not the same protections for the water in the southern?” says FreshWater Accountability Project Managing Director Leatra Harper.

“One state’s governor shouldn’t be able to sell off drilling rights at the peril of the millions who depend on the Ohio River for drinking water,” says Mary Greer of Concerned Citizens Ohio, based in Portage County.

“Fracking related activities have been causing earthquakes and there’s a fault line running under the Ohio River,” says Teresa Mills with the Center for Health, Environment and Justice. (See http://www2.ohiodnr.com/portals/geosurvey/ohioseis/images/faultbig.gif.)

“We’ve heard before that some outrageous plan is ‘safe’ when it wasn’t. There needs to be a comprehensive environmental study done before drilling under the Ohio River is even considered,” says Patricia Jacobson with FaCT-OV.

“How can one division of state government rush into such an enterprise without consulting the people of West Virginia, or indeed anyone living in any downstream state, as well as the federal government? How can it be in the best economic interests of a state to jeopardize a major source of drinking water for millions of people?” says Robin Blakeman of the Huntington, W.Va.-based Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition.

In reporting on the proposal, the website FrackCheckWV.net wrote, “Drilling and fracking above or near the Ohio River will result in hundreds of acres of disturbed land, toxic chemical leaks, increased water pollution run-off and contaminated storm water, as well as significant air pollution from diesel trucks, pumps and/or compressors, gas leaks and flares. The chances of fires, explosions, fish kills, worker injuries, and public health exposures are very real.”

The Department of Commerce will hold a public opening of all bids on Friday, September 26, at 1:00 p.m. in Room 525, 1900 Kanawha Boulevard East, State Capitol Complex, Building 6, Charleston, W.Va.

Groups signing the letter: Athens County (OH) Fracking Action Network, Concerned Citizens Ohio, CHEJ, FaCT-OV, Fresh Water Accountability Project, OVEC, Southwest Ohio No Frack Forum, Wetzel County (W.Va.) Action Group and the WV Chapter of the Sierra Club.