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Environmental Concerns Surround Proposal to Transport Frack Waste by River
Posted on: 03/28/2013
By  Mike Cullums
Wastewater from hydraulic fracturing could soon travel the Ohio River, if the US Coast Guard gives the green light to a proposal by Texas-based GreenHunter - which owns a fracking wastewater facility near New Matamoras as well as a regional office in Marietta. Green Hunter seeks federal approval to ship the waste by barge at a rate of up to a half-million gallons per load.
Environmental groups, including Athens-based Appalachia Resist, say it’s a dangerous idea that could threaten the drinking water source for millions of  people. Sasha White is an organizer with the group.  
"Frack waste is showing pretty significant levels of carcinogens, toxic heavy metals, radioactive particles, and the fact that it has been dispersed in a watery medium makes it particularly frightening that they would be shipping it on our waterways," White states. 

White says she and colleagues are also concerned that if the proposal is approved, it would expedite the development of more fracking activity in Ohio, which continues to be a controversial process – in part, for the sheer volume of wastewater it creates.   
"According to the company that proposed it, one barge could contain the same volume as over a thousand truckloads. And so," she says, "if you're able to ship that off to one place, you can actually increase the amount of waste you are producing."
GreenHunter maintains that barge transport is much safer and more cost-efficient than hauling the waste by truck.
The Coast Guard is still working on the company’s request and has not said when it expects to make a decision.
It’s estimated that millions of barrels of fracking wastewater per year - much of it from Pennsylvania and West Virginia - are now being injected into more than 170 wells in Ohio.
While supporters of fracking say it creates jobs and reduces dependence on foreign oil, opponents say the process involves the use and disposal of toxic chemicals, creating public health threats.
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