Commissioners hear concerns from Coshocton Environmental and Community Awareness group

| October 15, 2018

Members of Coshocton Environmental Community Awareness (CECA) gathered outside of the Coshocton County Commissioners’ office on Monday, Oct. 15 to protest the permit application that would allow Buckeye Brine to convert their Class II injection wells into a Class I non-hazardous waste injection wells and to ask for the commissioners’ support in their endeavor.

COSHOCTON – A group of citizens from Coshocton Environmental and Community Awareness (CECA) gathered outside of the Coshocton County Commissioners’ office on Monday, Oct. 15 to express their concern over Buckeye Brine’s permit application to the Ohio EPA that would allow the current Class II injection wells to be upgraded to a Class I non-hazardous waste injection wells.

“We feel this whole process isn’t as thorough as it should be,” said Tim Kettler, member of the CECA board of directors and co-founder of the organization. “The technology of injecting this waste underground, there is zero benefit financially, economically, and we get no compensation from this.”

Before the meeting commenced, members of the organization congregated outside on the corner, holding signs and wearing t-shirts in opposition to the Class I injection wells.

“After 30 years or so, there will be eight billion gallons of unknown waste water beneath the community,” said Kettler.

The group also received more than 1,900 signatures on a petition opposing the permit change, which they presented to the commissioners at their 9 a.m. meeting.

“We want them to come forward and make a statement and try to slow down this process,” said Kettler.

At 9 a.m., the commissioners’ meeting room was standing room only as members of CECA crowded into the office to make their voices heard. Kettler took the lead and presented the commissioners with the resolution and voiced concerns. According to the resolution, Kettler stated that there has already been a Class I injection well in Ohio that has leaked and they expressed concern that it may happen in Coshocton County. He was also concerned that the wells do not have a concrete bottom and that there have been earthquakes reported in the state that have been associated with injection wells. One of their main concerns is that this type of permit has never been granted in the state of Ohio where a Class II has been converted to a Class I injection well.

“What is so great about this resolution is the response from the community,” said Kettler. “We are not a bunch of tree-huggers. We are not all Democrats, Republicans, or Independents. These people are honest and a cross-section of who we are as a county and a community. We are farmers, educators, and business people.”

Nick Teti then addressed the commissioners about asking for help to appeal if this permit goes through. County commissioners do have a voice to appeal the permit decision through the Environmental Review Appeals Commission which hears and resolves appeals from final actions taken by the director of the Ohio EPA. The appeal must be filed after the permit is granted and must be filed within 30 days of approval.

“We need to use these opportunities to get these permits closed down,” said Teti. “All we have is someone’s word that it will not be formed into a hazardous waste well. We want to make sure our county is protected.”

Barbara Teti then addressed the commissioners and expressed the concern that she felt CECA is constantly under attack from other community members. She then stated that she fears the injection wells already have structural problems.

“My belief is that this change from injection well Class II to Class I is an example of a destructive and harmful change,” said Barbara. “I have a concern for the health and safety of the community if a spill should occur.”

She then asked the commissioners to help their cause.

“I look to you to help,” she said. “Not for the solution, but to help us find a solution.”

Roberta Kettler then told the commissioners that there will be an Ohio EPA meeting on Oct. 18 at Coshocton High School at 6 p.m. and asked if any of the commissioners would be attending. The commissioners responded that they have other obligations that evening that had already been set in place. Roberta then asked why their previous engagement was more important than the Ohio EPA meeting.

“We’re under attack here,” said Commissioner Gary Fischer. “What I said from the get-go is that we’ve attacked this thing since last June. This board has sent letters to the Ohio EPA on behalf of this group and brought up the same concerns that you have raised this morning. I respect your opinion and the group’s opinion, but I don’t respect being badgered and some of these comments we have heard that you’ve said at your meetings that we’re not doing anything about this or that we’re making money off of this.”

Commissioner Dane Shryock mentioned the Clean Water Act of 1972 where Ohio EPA must meet or exceed federal guidelines. He also stated that the commissioners have already made comments and raised questions to the Ohio EPA and were told that county commissioners have no control over Ohio EPA decisions.

“If we are not proactive in protecting our water, how can we be reactive,” said Kettler. “We see a need for your leadership.”

The commissioners were then asked if they would file their concerns with Ohio EPA in which the commissioners responded that they had already done so and were told that county commissioners have no weight in Ohio EPA decisions.

“We were on this in June,” said Fischer. “Am I concerned about this? Am I concerned about other wells in the county and others in Tuscarawas County?  Sure I am. I have kids and grandchildren who live here.”

The meeting with CECA ended with Fischer stating that he would stop by CECA’s meeting with the Ohio EPA on Thursday, Oct. 18.

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Category: Government

About the Author ()

I have been employed at the Coshocton County Beacon since September 2009 as a news reporter and assistant graphic artist. I am a 2004 graduate of Newcomerstown High School and a 2008 graduate of Capital University with a bachelor’s degree in Professional Writing. I am married to John Scott and live in Newcomerstown. We have two beautiful daughters, Amelia Grace Scott and Leanna Rose Scott.

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