SOME FRACKING WASTES ARE RADIOACTIVE ~ Waste Facility in Martin’s Ferry Needs Attention

by admin on May 8, 2022

Radioactive frack waste is stored in Martin’s Ferry in the Ohio River valley

‘This Needs to Be Fixed’: Nuclear Expert Calls Radioactivity Levels Found Outside Ohio Oilfield Waste Facility ‘Excessive’

From an Article by Justin Nobel, DeSmog Blog, April 25, 2022

Activists and scientists have found alarming levels of radioactivity in samples collected along the road and soils outside Austin Master Services, an oilfield waste processing facility with a history of sloppy practices in eastern Ohio. The facility is located just down the street from a high school football stadium and less than 1,000 feet from a set of city drinking water wells, raising public health concerns from a nuclear forensics scientist about the extent of possible radioactive contamination.

Last November, members of two advocacy groups, Concerned Ohio River Residents and Mountain Watershed Association, collected soil samples from outside the Martins Ferry, Ohio facility of Austin Master Services, a Pottstown, Pennsylvania-based company that operates in 10 states. Both groups are concerned about the handling of radioactive oilfield waste in their region, which has seen over a decade of intensive fracking development in the Marcellus and Utica shale formations.

All of that oil and gas drilling produces huge volumes of liquid and solid waste that need treatment and disposal. Oilfield waste service companies pick it up directly at the wellhead, and sometimes perform an initial processing, before bringing some of it to facilities like Austin Master’s for additional treatment. But how well-prepared such companies are to handle the industry’s radioactive waste is being increasingly called into question. For instance, a DeSmog investigation has revealed that railcars carrying radioactive oilfield waste from Austin Master in Martins Ferry have arrived leaking at a final disposal facility in Utah on multiple occasions between 2015 and 2020. Over the years, conditions at Austin Master have raised concerns from inspectors and advocacy groups alike.


Austin Master Services has authorization with the state of Ohio to annually receive 120 million pounds of radioactive oilfield waste. Despite the dangers this type of waste poses, a 1980 federal exemption has deemed it to be non-hazardous and therefore exempt from federal rules that would otherwise apply to hazardous waste.

On April 4, Concerned Ohio River Residents held a press event in Martins Ferry and demanded that state officials issue orders to immediately stop work at the Austin Master facility due to public health and environmental concerns. The group also requested that the EPA perform an inspection of the entire facility, and has said it will push for the plant to become a Superfund site, an official designation reserved for massively contaminated lands and environmental emergencies that would make funds available for cleanup. EPA has not replied to questions regarding these requests.

“We want them to invoke their law and do their own testing of the whole entire area,” Beverly Reed, an Ohio Valley business owner and member of Concerned Ohio River Residents, stated at the press event.

We want the site cleaned up and properly monitored, Reed continued, before the situation becomes “a crisis.”

Chris Martin, a spokesperson for Austin Master, has not replied to a request for comment regarding Concerned Ohio River Residents’ sampling results.


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