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ODNR under fire after Monroe County well pad incident

Updated: Thursday, July 24 2014, 06:32 PM EDT
MONROE COUNTY, Ohio -- A recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report revealed that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources was absent in the wake of the well pad fire in Monroe County.
Environmental advocates are asking why ODNR was astray for days after the well pad went up in flames.
The Ohio Environmental Council sent out a press release stating that the well pad fire took a week to put out, forced 25 homes to be evacuated, posed a risk to drinking water supplies and killed more than 70,000 fish in a 5-mile long fish kill.
The EPA report reveals that ODNR officials were not present at five of the first eight "unified command" meetings where officials gathered to plan how to extinguish the fire safely.
"Where were they again when the public needed them? Asked Melanie Houston of the Ohio Environmental Council. “… A major fracking fire where 25 households were evacuated, 5-mile fish kill, firefighters, neighbors and drinking supplies were all put at risk."
ODNR disagreed with the report.
“Inspectors from ODNR were on scene within hours of being notified of an emergency conducting critical safety measures to ensure the safety of the first responders and the community, as well as to mitigate environmental impact," said Bethany McCorkle from ODNR. “After any incident, especially one of this magnitude with so many partners involved, we self-evaluate to see where best management practices could occur and how we can improve. We'll continue to critique our rules, actions and legislation to ensure the citizens of Ohio are properly protected.”
Houston said that there were unidentified chemicals, explosive charges, and radiological equipment were present at the well pad incident, where there were 30 explosions and shrapnel.
The EPA report states that it took ODNR two days to request information on what proprietary chemicals had been used at the well pad.
"Five days too late that U.S. EPA and Ohio EP actually got this info from the company,” Houston said. “Again ODNR, they needed to be requesting it instantaneously and drinking water utilities, fire fighters, fire responders need to have that information first hand when dealing with these events."
Environmental advocates are pushing for Ohio law to be revised to assure that this information is more readily available to these agencies.
“It highlights a real hold in our Ohio law in terms of chemical disclosure when thus needed, companies can still hide under the trade secret protection and they aren’t required by Ohio law to provide this information,” Houston said.
ODNR also stated that they will continue to critique their rules, actions and legislation to ensure the citizens of Ohio are properly protected.

ODNR under fire after Monroe County well pad incident

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