Friday, August 16, 2013
STARK COUNTY "ANTI-FRACKER" CLAIMS "THE REPOSITORY" IS "UNFAIR & IMBALANCED" ON ITS COVERAGE OF FRACKING ISSUES
As Stark County's only countywide newspaper, the SCPR thinks The Repository has a special burden to be fair and balanced in its coverage of controversial issues that surface in our county.
Once such issue in recent years has been the effects of horizontal hydraulic "fracking" implemented by the natural gas and oil industry to find new sources of natural gas and oil and other byproducts from deep underneath the ground surface.
The Report has learned that Stark Countian Chris Borello (Concerned Citizens of Stark County - CCSC) has recently challenged the managing editor of The Rep (Scott Brown) to accord the viewpoint of her group and her allies on the anti-fracking side of the controversy a fair and balanced presentation.
"Fracking," has a strong presence in Stark County.
Canton mayor William J. Healy, II has dubbed Canton as "The Utica Capital" thereby double monikering the Hall of Fame city after the Utica shale formation that underlies part of if not all of Stark County.
Chesapeake Energy (a major national participant in "fracking,") has headquarters in Stark (currently in Canton), but is relocating its prime facility to Louisville here in Stark County.
And, of course, there is a steady increase in the number of horizontally fracked wells dotting the landscape of Stark.
The fairest/most comprehensive short-form definition that The Report has found comes from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) (LINK).
Beginning in December, 2010 the SCPR has endeavored to provide the The Report's readership with information on both sides of the issue. Here is a Google search (LINK) which will connect readers with a good sense of The Report's coverage of this issue.
Here is what Borello (of Plain Township) wrote Brown:
RE: Questions concerning Canton Repository's coverage of fracking -re. fairness and balance
Managing Editor, Mr. Scott Brown
Dear Mr. Brown,
Thank you for contacting me after Gayle Beck, Editorial Page Editor, had forwarded on to you my concerns about the Rep's failure to provide fairness and balance in your coverage on this important topic affecting our area.
Your email to me claimed that you feel that the paper is covering the shale gas drilling in a balanced and fair way, thus you refuted my assertion ( which is shared by many readers, trust me).
You trivialized this to merely being my personal "feelings" which you believe are contrary to what apparently you believe are the true facts. I would ask that as Managing Editor, you please examine the following few examples nevertheless, and see if you still come to the same conclusion:
* This spring the paper did an 85 page spread/insert, which for the most part, appeared to clearly be an effort to broadly promote fracking, accompanied by huge full page pictures etc. Of course, we assume that you will say, that well, this spread was paid for by multiple (mega bucks) sponsors and had nothing to do with your coverage. But how does that project the paper's being fair and balanced - when the public obviously does not have funding to present similarly their "side," thus our valid concerns get drowned out, (just like on TV, where infomercial's run night and day pushing this)?
* How many typical fracking stories done by the REP in the last six months are considered "pro" for industry, vs. coverage related to the risks posed? We believe the vast majority are for the industry, if you count them ( please include the page location ie., front page where readers are most likely to see them, vs. buried).
* Case in point: Your paper ran with a major front page story declaring no problem with fracking and groundwater, even though it was reiterated in the very last sentence of the article this was based upon preliminary info.!! .... Yet, shortly after, three different stories broke nationally about US EPA/ the Obama Administration sabotaging such studies in PA, Wyoming and Texas - studies that had indeed showed such linkage....Where was your front page story on this?
* Below, you will find the news release attached to a letter signed by over 50 people just approx. two weeks ago, including nearly all the environmental groups in Ohio - including the Ohio Environmental Council, Sierra Club, Food & Water Watch and Ohio Buckeye Council, along with religious based groups and average concerned citizens, no small feat.
This letter was sent to Governor Kasich and other elected officials like Scott Oelslager, simply requesting the State provide SCIENCE BASED ANSWERS concerning the massive disposal of radiation from the shale gas drilling targeting our State, and our Stark area.ur State....
If, as you say, the Canton Repository is covering the shale gas drilling in such a fair balanced manner, please tell us what page your Canton Rep's coverage was on this very important issue, de[a]dly radiation that could affect countless area residents, given that our area landfills are being targeted for disposal of this waste ( which involves the 87 million dollar Canton Waste Water Treatment Plant utilized by the County and North Canton involving their dollars ( via the 12 mile pipe line leachate project to be built from American Landfill to this plant for discharge into the Nimishillen Creek; along with some 16 injection wells that sit beneath our aquifers located in Stark, receiving untold volumes of radioactive drilling waste water?
This letter wasn't worthy of your paper's coverage??
These are just a few of the glaring discrepancies we can cite. Concerned Citizens sincerely hope that you will write us back addressing the above points fully.
Chris Borello for Stark County Concerned Citizens
Unlike The Repository (except for its editorial function), the SCPR does take positions on issues that crop up in Stark County.
On "fracking" yours truly's position is that like it or not, "fracking" is a reality and it is the function of government at all levels to protect our drinking water and other environmental concerns and that the industry itself must be made to have adequate resources (insurance, bonds, emergency procedures and the like) on hand and at the ready to deal with the consequences of problems when they occur.
Notice: Not "if" they occur, but WHEN they occur.
Remember "Deep Water, Horizon;" the industry said that that drilling operation was safe, too.
Notwithstanding the SCPR taking a position on any particular issue, yours truly always makes available to those who differ with The Report's stance all the space on this blog they need to explain their take on the issue.
Since The Repository itself has not shared with Stark Countians that some of its readers do not think that the newspaper presents the "fracking" issue in the a fair and balance way, The Report provides this forum for Borello et al to get their viewpoint out to the Stark County public.
At the end of this blog, the SCPR reprints the press release and the letter accompanying it to Governor John Kasich.
It appears that the discussion between Borello and Brown via e-mail may still be underway.
In the latest version of the back and forth Brown is quoted as saying that The Rep cannot publish a ProPublica piece because of copyright concerns.
Well, Borello is trying to clear away those concerns. A test of the impact of her initiative will be (if she clears away The Rep's copyright concerns) whether or not the ProPublica piece gets reported upon, and, perhaps editorialized on.
While the SCPR does not adopt the positions of the Concerned Citizens of Stark County and friends nor those of the oil and natural gas industry, yours truly supports the CCSC et al's quest to have their case presented in the media.
Anyone who is attuned to commercial media is well aware that the oil and natural gas industry spends mega bucks in placing creatively constructed ads on America's television and radio outlets.
Only on the Internet is there anything near citizens having access to fair and balanced information on the issue.
Often though, in an Internet search, one has to wade through to read/view/hear highly biased presentations (from both sides) and then try to figure out the truth of the matter in comparing one set of assertions against the other.
For its captive audience (i.e. The Rep being Stark County's only countywide newspaper), the paper needs to do better reporting the local aspects of whether or not actual "fracking" within the county is harming the environment and the extent to which local government officials are or are not protecting citizens from claimed harmful effects (either actual or potential) from "fracking" and "fracking" related activities within Stark.
For beginners, The Repository needs to publish the dialogue back and forth between Beck/Brown and Borello on the issue of fairness/balance of Stark County's only countywide newspaper's reporting policy.
Secondly, Brown needs to state clearly to the reading public whether or not Borello's complaints have found a nesting place at The Rep in that he and his fellows will give special scrutiny to the fairness/balance issue on "fracking" to get Borello to the point that she can agree that The Repository has responded sufficiently to her complaint that she is willing to say that the newspaper provides fairness/balance on the issue.
Like it or not, since The Repository is Stark County's only "countywide newspaper of record," it is essential that its readers - once a decision to cover a particular issue is made - get fair and balanced coverage.
Those of us who want to be fully informed on a variety of local issues that come to the fore on a daily basis should be pleased that Borello and friends are pushing the issue of fairness and balance with "the powers that be" at The Rep.
As promised, those readers who want to see the press release and letter to the governor in full, here goes:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Chris Borello, 330-499-5207
Today an urgent appeal is being made to Gov. John Kasich signed by concerned citizens and groups from around the State, regarding the massive disposal of inherently radioactive shale drilling wastes through various means - including injection, land filling, spraying on roads and discharging to surface waters. We are asking the Governor to personally direct his agencies to be responsive to key technical questions listed in the letter that have inexplicably gone unanswered related to Ohio's handling of these long-lived radioactive materials. The letter's organizer, long time grassroots childrens' health activist, Chris Borello of Stark County said:..., "Proper testing and management of this radiation is critical in protecting workers and communities from exposures to this radiation. According to experts, the kind of radiation found in the shale drilling wastes, Radium 226, is particularly dangerous, more so than some nuclear wastes, they say, not only because the Radium is water soluble, but because of the way it is metabolized in the body. Radium is bone-seeking, thus if ingested it can cause blood cancers, like Leukemia. The Radon Gas emitted can cause lung cancers. Therefore, it is essential that these shale drilling wastes are not only properly tested, following what is known to be "best science," but then isolated virtually forever from the public and environment. Citizens are deeply worried that the State is failing to err on the side of caution because of the gas drilling " frenzy," and the extreme political pressures obviously involved. Given Ohio is being used as this industry's economical "toilet bowl" for disposal of this toxic and carcinogenic radioactive waste stream, the public deserves answers and protection, putting Ohioans' health first, over short term profits".......
Ohio Governor John Kasich
Riffe Center, 30th Floor
77 South High Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215-6117
c/o Mr. Craig Butler, Environmental Liaison cc: ODNR, OEPA, ODH, OAG, media, public
Subject: Disposal of radioactive shale drilling wastes in Ohio
Dear Governor Kasich,
In a recent letter to your constituents, (find below) you asserted that Ohio is developing a comprehensive plan to address the very serious concerns related to the presence of long-lived carcinogenic radiation/radium known to be inherently present in the shale drilling waste stream. This radiation-laden waste is being disposed in our state in vast quantities through various means: injection, land filling, spraying on roads and discharge via waste water treatment plants into surface waters. To garner public trust and credibility, it is imperative that your various agencies act in a transparent and forthcoming manner, given the potential risks posed to public health, worker safety and to the environment for many years to come, long after the drilling boom has gone bust. Unfortunately, when concerned citizens have attempted to hold the agencies scientifically accountable, seeking concrete answers to even the most basic questions, those answers have not been provided to date regarding the following particularly crucial points:
For Ohio EPA Director Scott Nally:
OEPA has failed to respond to questions repeatedly posed seeking whether, in fact, OEPA has authority over TENORM radiation in drilling wastes specifically generated at waste water treatment facilities - i.e, "sludges" (as it appears it does under ORC 3701:1-43-07, Exemptions, Section J"). We ask that you please direct Ohio EPA to answer the following:
a) Confirm or deny OEPA has this authority. b) If OEPA indeed does have this jurisdiction over treatment plant /recycling of sludges for TENORM, we then request that OEPA provide us with all technical specifics the agency has issued/or plans to issue to landfill operators, waste generators and others, regarding what precisely OEPA is requiring to ensure there is "proper" compliance testing for the radium/uranium series, thus demonstrating the State will ultimately conduct proper management of waste potentially containing elevated levels of these sludges. (KEY: PA is reporting up to 500 times greater levels of radiation in this waste specifically due to this specific act of "treatment/recycling" ).
For ODNR's Chief Rick Simmers:
ODNR has failed to respond to reasonable questions and concerns regarding the reported disturbing usage of handheld radiation detectors/scanners being used at the Patriot/Warren facility, reportedly for each load. NOTE: According to radiation experts, this handheld detector cannot properly detect the radium of concern in water, unless the levels are very seriously high and grossly out of compliance.
* If handheld scanners are not adequate for proper compliance monitoring, please direct ODNR to provide citizens with a scientifically supportable explanation that can be peer reviewed, as to precisely how the State can possibly ascertain whether what is being discharged to Ohio surface waters is not exceeding the 5 pico curie limit for radiation and/ or in violation of the Clean Water Act.
For ODH Chief Michael Snee:
* To corroborate what has already been publicly asserted, please direct Ohio Dept. of Health's Bureau of Radiation Protection to confirm, in writing, that "best practices" related to radiation testing will be adhered to:
a) ODH confirming that the State will require truly scientifically "representative sampling" be conducted for each load prior to disposal
b) ODH will adhere to the same testing standard the agency had previous established when sampling the Ohio Utica Shales for radium: I.e, ODH will require each sample be held in an air tight container at a lab 21 days prior to analysis, to allow for full equilibrium of the radium's gamma daughters, thus ensuring accurate assessment of the gamma emitters at a certified laboratory.
Finally and perhaps most importantly, please request that one or more of the three above-mentioned agencies scientifically justify to citizens why Ohio has deliberately chosen to opt for the weaker, less protective definition/criteria regarding which drilling wastes constitute TENORM ( technically enhanced naturally occurring radiation) VS. NORM wastes. This arbitrary decision made by the State now allows a larger percentage of this highly dangerous, long lived radiation to be disposed in Ohio without any proper accountability or monitoring. It is our understanding that Ohio's less protective stance on TENORM is contrary to what the US EPA, the National Academy of Sciences and others have defined. Reportedly, even the State of Pennsylvania considers drill cuttings to be TENORM, whereas Ohio does not. Please explain how ignoring large quantities of radiation dumped into Ohio is consistent with your goal of protecting public health and carrying out a "comprehensive" management of these radioactive wastes from drilling. Moreover, please explain how allowing elevated levels of radiation to be "down blended with dirt" and then dumped into Ohio's solid waste landfills is consistent with proper management, given that these Ohio landfills are not designed to become Low Level Rad Waste Sites. Given the water solubility of radium in these wastes, this radiation could migrate through a site and enter groundwater or be collected into a landfill leachate collection system, with ultimate discharge from a city waste water plant into the surface waters of the State. In addition, what liability or risks are posed to workers involved with such down blending practices?
The below concerned individuals and groups from around Ohio believe the above questions and concerns are critically important in protecting public health, safety and welfare, and deserve complete answers from the State. We therefore request your immediate personal attention to this letter to ensure the public is provided this information in an expeditious manner.
Chris Borello, Stark County Concerned Citizens/CCLT, Uniontown
Kathie Jones, Sandra Bilek, Concerned Citiznes of Medina County
Buckeye Forest Council
Patti & David Gorcheff, North Lima
Prof. James T. O'Reilly, College of Medicine, MPH Faculty, University of Cincinnati
Trudee Weatherby, Youngstown
Jed Thorp, Chapter Manager, Ohio Sierra Club, Columbus
John Williams, McDonald
Walter E. (Ted) Auch, PhD, Cleveland State University Faculty
Julia Fuhrman-Davis, Beaver Twp.
Vanessa Pesec, President, NEOGAP, Concord Twp.
Debra Debozy, Boardman
Greg Pace, Guernsey County Citizens Support On Drilling Issues
Joe Sirgo, Plain Twp.
Alice Marusiak, Stow, Summit Co.
Kari Matsko, Director, People's Oil & Gas Collaborative, Ohio
Jean Engle, Youngstown
Alison Auciello, Organizer, Food and Water Watch, Cincinnati
Sue Garver, Canton
Fresh Water Accountability Project
Lea Harper, Grand Rapids
Jodi Stoyak, Liberty Twp. Trustee, Trumbull County
Lynn Anderson, Youngstown
Heather Cantino, Steering Committee Member, Athens County Fracking Action Network
Diana Shaheen, Boardman
Renee Bogue, Stark County Concerned Citizens; Stark-Summit Concerned Citizens Coalition
Jenny Morgan, concerned citizen, Westerville, Franklin County
Mary C. Khumprakob, Youngstown
Elizabeth Dixon, Uniontown
Tony Paone, Plain Twp., Stark County
Judith A. & Raymond G.Vershum, Canfield
Marguerite Felice, Youngstown
Maria Montanez, Youngstown
Andrea Moore, Lowellville
Mary Greer, Concerned Citizens Ohio;Shalerville/coordinator;STAND UP OHIO/adjunct member; Ohio Organizing Collaborative/adjunct member
Heather Vahila, Lake Mohawk Property Owners Association
Jack & Joni Richards, Waynesburg, Sandy Twp.
Gwen B. Fischer, Professor Emerita Psychology Dept. Hiram College
Stan Fischer, Hiram Twp., Portage County
Elyse Hirsch, Stow Ohio, Stark- Summit Coalition
George Elias, Youngstown, Frackfree Mahoning, FANCy
Dr. Raymond Beirsdorfer, Professor of Geological & Environmental Sciences, YSU
Susie Beirsdorfer, Frackfree Mahoning
Dan & Beverly Seiple, North Canton
Lori Babbey, Concerned Citizens Ohio, Portage County
Melanie Roll, concerned citizen, North Canton
Posted by Martin Olson at 4:50 AM