Tag Archives: fire

Who Poisons Whom With Chemicals?

By Bernhard Debatin

The Boston bombing and other such horrible events have shown that preparedness for domestic terrorism is a necessity. Therefore, one might think it wouldn’t be that bad if “Area officials undergo training to combat terroristic events,” as the Athens Messenger titled on December 11, 2013.

However, the choice of the simulated event, “a fake anti-fracking extremist group that was planning on launching a chemical attack on Ohio University’s Convocation Center” and that was running a “mock bioterrorism lab,” shows a cynical lack of judgment by the involved authorities. Such thoughtless scenario vilifies the anti-fracking movement as a whole and identifies it casually with terrorism, while it is in fact a non-violent and broad coalition of concerned citizens. Continue reading


The Trillion-Gallon Loophole: Lax Rules for Drillers that Inject Pollutants Into the Earth

by Abrahm Lustgarten
republished from
ProPublica, Sept. 20, 2012, 12:12 p.m.

Injection Wells
The Hidden Risks of Pumping Waste Underground

The remains of a tanker truck after an explosion ripped through an injection well site in a pasture outside of Rosharon, Texas, on Jan. 13, 2003, killing three workers. The fire occurred as two tanker trucks, including the one above, were unloading thousands of gallons of drilling wastewater. (Photo courtesy of the Chemical Safety Board)

On a cold, overcast afternoon in January 2003, two tanker trucks backed up to an injection well site in a pasture outside Rosharon, Texas. There, under a steel shed, they began to unload thousands of gallons of wastewater for burial deep beneath the earth.

The waste – the byproduct of oil and gas drilling – was described in regulatory documents as a benign mixture of salt and water. But as the liquid rushed from the trucks, it released a billowing vapor of far more volatile materials, including benzene and other flammable hydrocarbons. Continue reading

Production of Fracking Chemicals: A Cautionary Tale

By Bernhard Debatin

Many fracking fluids are dangerous, highly toxic, carcinogenic, —  and also highly flammable. On Oct. 3, 2011, a massive fire destroyed the central Magnablend chemical plant  in Waxahachie, TX, about 30 miles south of Dallas. The facility mostly produced fracking fluids. The fire broke out around 10:30 a.m. and burnt for hours, sending huge plumes of black smoke into the sky. Due to the lack of proper containment systems, the liquid chemicals, many of which were on fire, spread quickly throughout and beyond the premises of the plant. Several severe explosions indicated that propane tanks and other highly explosive chemicals blew up in the fire, too.

Due to the intensity of the fire and the smoke, about 1000 people were evacuated from a school and an apartment building. While only two workers suffered minor injuries, the fire destroyed a $1.5 million fire truck in addition to the plant. The fire was mostly contained by 7:30 p.m., but some smaller hot spots kept burning into the next day and the fire smoldered for several days. Continue reading

Are Fracking Rules Really Better Under The New ORC Law?

A Confirmation and a Correction

By Bernhard Debatin

Correction of our claim made in earlier post "Submit Your Protest Against Relaxation Of Fracking Rules!"

Responding to the letter campaign to ODNR, Heidi Hetzel-Evans of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, stated today that the amendments and changes to the oil and gas regulations in the Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) 1501:9 are a mere “house keeping” exercise to keep up with changes in the law. She also said that “we’re definitely strengthening the rules, not reducing or relaxing them.”

However, while the new oil and gas regulations in the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) 1509 do indeed have some provisions that strengthen regulation, there are many areas where things remain unregulated, or worse, as criticized in this blog, actually loosen or rescind previous rules. Continue reading

ODNR About To Change Fracking Regulations

Comments to ODNR must be submitted by Dec. 23

By Bernhard Debatin

The ODNR Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management is currently requesting comments on proposed changes to the rules and regulations for gas and oil drilling and for wastewater injection. Any comments must be submitted to minerals@dnr.state.oh.us by December 23, 2011.

In Ohio, these rules and regulations are established under Ohio Administrative Code 1501:9. The draft proposal for the revisions can be viewed here, a 105-page long document that shows all changes, amendments, and rescissions.

Following are the most important changes, and a first attempt to interpret their implications. A lot of it is about more “flexibility,” i.e. less oversight and fewer safety precautions. Please note that I am frequently quoting from rescinded language to show what’s no longer required.

Also, please feel free to use the following points in your comments to minerals@dnr.state.oh.us

Continue reading