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City remains firm on no fracking outlook

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Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, was at the forefront of Monday’s city council meeting where the council proposed a resolution supporting the Athens County Commissioner’s opposition to an injection well that would be located near Torch, Ohio.

The resolution prompted every city council member to deny the permit due to concerns over how the well, which is a vertical pipe capable of pumping liquids and gases into the ground, would affect the environment. Among those concerned was Third Ward Rep. Michele Papai.

“It seems that there is an expansion going on in our county and Washington County with injection wells,” Papai said.

Although fracking is banned within the city limits, one group has worked to decrease the amount of influence it has over Athens County earlier in the year. The Athens-based Bill of Rights Committee (BORC) was denied in their attempt to place an initiative to ban fracking by the Board of Elections earlier this year.

One of the concerns of the council was that due to the developed infrastructure in Athens, it is easy for trucks shipping the waste to reach the city. The ease at which trucks containing drilling waste can reach the city prompts concern for where the waste will be dumped.

However, these trucks are not coming into the Athens area from other places in Ohio. The trucks that are bringing waste to the region are primarily from West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

“They don’t have to tell you where the waste is coming from and they don’t have to test it,” Papai said.

The lack of information regarding this waste is what sparked Papai to support the county commissioners.

“We want to support our commissioners, and ultimately support the health and safety of Athens City and Athens County,” Papai said.

Ending the overall issue of fracking is a long-term project. At-Large Rep. Steve Patterson stressed the urgency of beginning to resolve the issue with this resolution.

“We have got to start somewhere, and this is the first step for the county,” Patterson said.

Along with the liquid waste possibly bringing harmful contaminants to the surface, some evidence suggests that earthquakes in Youngstown, Ohio can be linked to fracking, which has prompted even more outrage.

“We are battling the whole gas and petroleum industry, and people’s rights to do what they want with their own property,” Patterson said.

 

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