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By Sean Barron
Henrietta Bibbs takes exception to many aspects of hydraulic fracturing in the Mahoning Valley, such as the oil and gas industry’s claims of job creation.
“They’re bringing in these cowboys from North Dakota, Texas and other states who already know the industry,” said Bibbs, a member of Frack Free Mahoning. “All you have to do is go up and down [state] Route 7 past the motels with all of these cars with out-of-state license plates.”
Bibbs was one of an estimated 40 people who attended Thursday’s two-hour informational town hall-style meeting at Unitarian Universalist Church of Youngstown, 1105 Elm St. on the North Side.
The session was to discuss the newly “permitted” facility designed to handle waste from hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to determine if the material is radioactive. Attendees also shared their expertise and concerns in an effort to find solutions.
FFM members want the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to rescind its decision to grant a permit for Industrial Waste Control Inc. on Sinter Court, which allows the company to use West Chester, Pa.-based Austin Master Services LLC to test incoming material for levels of radioactivity.
Susie Beiersdorfer, a geologist and FFM member, said she didn’t learn about the March 6 order from Richard Simmers, ODNR’s oil and gas division chief, until April 10, when a friend told her about having conducted a public-records check. She also found out after a 30-day public-comment period had expired, said Beiersdorfer, who also contended that the ODNR had not established written rules before issuing the permit.
During a question-and-answer period, one West Side woman angrily predicted that the oil and gas companies will come into the Mahoning Valley and reap their profits by polluting many of the area’s natural resources before walking away.
One man mocked elected officials who he said knew about the meeting but failed to attend.
Bibb also cited several recent high-profile oil spills and accidents such as the March 29, 2013, pipeline rupture near Mayflower, Ark., as well as the storage tank that ruptured in January 2014 near Charleston, W.Va., causing about 5,000 gallons of an industrial chemical to seep into the Elk River.
“We’ve got to take action,” she said.