Fracking Blockade in Ohio Ends After 6 Hours

Cross Posted from NBC4

ATHENS COUNTY, Ohio — An Athens County woman was arrested Tuesday morning after she chained herself to two barrels of concrete and blocked the entrance of a fracking fluid injection well on Ladd Ridge Road.

Madeline Fitch told reporters she felt compelled to protest the continued dumping of out-of-state oil and gas drilling wastewater into the Athens County injection well site.

“I did this because I’m tired of out-of-state fracking waste being dumped in Ohio and I want state regulating agencies to protect Ohio citizens instead of taking money from the oil and gas industry,” Fitch said.

Attorney Don Wirtshafter, called to the scene to represent Fitch in her act of civil disobedience.

“I think it’s the only way we’re going to get reporters like you down here to look at what’s happening in Ohio and how we’re selling out to these corporations for 30 cents a barrel to bring in these wastes that somebody’s paying $50 to $100 a barrel to get rid of,” Wirtshafter said. 

Fitch was charged with trespassing, obstructing official business and inducing panic, according to Captain Bryon Cooper of the Athens County Sheriff’s Office.

The injection well is operated by Carper Well Services of Marietta and has been in use since 1984, according to spokesman Smitty VanDall.

“It’s just regular brine water,” said VanDall. “We’re regulated by the state. The state comes in and inspects us once a week.”

A spokesman for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources told NBC4 the most recent inspection of the well was in April of this year and it was found to be in compliance. 

State and industry officials say Ohio has among the toughest fracking regulations in the country and that injection disposal wells have been used safely for years. But opponents say the law does not require full disclosure of the chemicals being used or the testing of wastewater.

The process of fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, has become a controversial topic in recent months as a result of the oil and gas drilling boom underway in Ohio. Drilling companies use a mixture of chemicals, some of them toxic, during the fracking process. It’s those fluids along with flowback brine water that is injected into disposal wells.

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