A Texas company has big plans for some Washington County Ohioans in 2013. GreenHunter Water of Grapevine, Texas has bought several refurbished barges to ship thousands of gallons of brine, a waste byproduct of fracking on the Ohio River. Many environmental advocates are however calling foul, leading the US Coast Guard to put the company's plans on hold until it can be determined if fracking waste can be transported as river cargo.
The brine containing used fracking chemicals alongside high concentrations of salt, metals, and radium are but a few of the contents GreenHunter Water wishes to move across the Ohio River.
Ohio being a dumping ground for other state's waste is not a new trend as The Dispatch reports. In fact, millions of barrels of brine are injected underground in Ohio disposal wells every year. Brine started arriving in Ohio during 2010, after a Pennsylvanian court ruled the waste too toxic for sewage-treatment plants to be dumping it into streams.
If brine is green-lighted for river transport, many Ohioans are worried about the potential hazardous disaster that may ensue if one of the refurbished barges ran into a bridge or vessel and broke apart. "The (Ohio) River is drinking water for some people," said Teresa Mills, the Ohio organizer for the Center for Health, Environmental and Justice.
The Ohio River is in fact the main source of drinking water for more than three million people, and the Ohio River Basin is home to over 25 million. In addition, the river is home to over 200 unique species of fish and mussels, several of which are in danger of extinction.
The Coast Guard has no timetable for making a decision on the barge, but sources hint a decision could potentially come in the next two weeks.