STEUBENVILLE - The Jefferson County Board of Health on Tuesday unanimously opposed a request by the Apex Sanitary Landfill to accept non-hazardous bulk liquids from shale oil and gas drilling operations for disposal at the landfill facility.
Health Department Administrator Bruce Misselwitz told the health board members he received an e-mail Friday afternoon from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency containing a draft letter of approval for a solidification facility at the Apex landfill.
The landfill operators have proposed processing the waste through a proposed solidification basin and then dispose the created solid wastes at the Apex Sanitary Landfill.
According to the draft letter, "the non-hazardous liquid wastes are to be mixed with a proprietary admixture or select absorbent solid wastes until the resultant mixture passes the paint filter test and meets the definition of a solid waste. Apex has also requested to divert accepted select solid wastes and not immediately deposit them at the working face as required by rule so that they may be staged within an enclosed freestanding structure for use in their solidification basin."
"Landfills in the state that are already accepting drilling waste are monitored by the OEPA, the Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources," Misselwitz said.A spokesperson for the Apex Landfill could not be reached for comment.
Health Commissioner Dr. Frank J. Petrola said Tuesday he has concerns about radon and other radioactive materials that may be contained in the drilling waste.
"I informed the OEPA the health board will object to this proposal and the board members will be verbal in their opposition. My understanding is this process is already in operation in Poland, Ohio, and Perry County," announced Misselwitz.
"The landfill can't control the odors at the landfill, so how are they going to control this. We were told after our last meeting this issue was dropped. Now we are handed this OEPA draft letter today. We need to object to this and make it a national issue," stated board member Dale Featheringham.
"We should be proactive against this. I want to make a motion opposing the proposal and another motion asking the director of the OEPA to come to our next board meeting to explain this," added Featheringham.
"We don't want to be a guinea pig. I am totally against this. I want a public hearing so the OEPA explains this entire process to the people of Jefferson County," said board member John Fabian.
"This material from well sites will have to be taken to a separate building and then mixed with another material. This will be dangerous," noted Fabian.
"And what about our water system. How will this affect our water. In my opinion this could be a catastrophe. We need the biggest response to this we can get out of Jefferson County. We need to stop this," said Featheringham.
"Our job is not to secure the financial stability of the county. Our job is to protect the health of the residents of Jefferson County," commented board member Dr. George Van Weelden.
According to OEPA spokesperson Kristopher Weiss, "landfills have been accepting drilling mud."
"This is a request to put in a solidification facility, and we are considering the request. We are working through the application request through our Division of Materials and Waste Management. The division will make a recommendation to the director and he will make the final decision. And after that decision is made, either side can appeal the decision to the Environmental Review Appeals Commission," explained Weiss.
The draft letter from the OEPA has 18 conditions the landfill must meet if final approval for the solidification facility is granted, including a requirement to "maintain records documenting that each load of liquid waste that is technologically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive material is at a concentration of less than 5 picocuries per gram above natural background for any combination of radium-226 and radium-228."
But Fritz Tulencik of the Tri-County Concerned Citizens group said no one monitors the material received at the landfill on a 24-hour-seven-days-a-week schedule.
"I monitor the landfill 24/7 because I live near there. There is an odor problem there, so how can I convince anyone there will be a health problem in the future," he said.
Tulencik also questioned the health board members regarding the monthly odor telephone complaints.
"People can call the health department to report an odor complaint but not everyone knows the Apex odor complaint number is (888) 878-7919 and that is a call center in Pennsylvania that faxes the information to Apex," said Tulencik.In other business Tuesday, Jefferson County Assistant Prosecutor Emanuela Agresta said she has filed contempt of court charges against Joseph Scugoza of C&D Disposal Technologies, and a hearing in Jefferson County Common Pleas Court will be held on Nov. 5.
The managing partner of the C&D Disposal Technologies landfill agreed in August to temporarily close the facility pending its sale to the Delaware-based United Waste.
A temporary restraining order was issued on July 12 prohibiting the landfill near the Jefferson County Airpark from accepting solid waste at its recycling center.
Scugoza could not be reached for comment.
The board also heard from Jefferson County Regional Planning Commission Administrator Domenick Mucci who said 28 houses are set for demolition throughout the county through the Moving Ohio Forward program.
"We anticipate removing these condemned houses shortly after the first of the year," said Mucci.
And health department Sanitarian Carla Gampola said she is working with Agresta to file contempt of court charges against James Wellington and Jennifer St. Clair for maintaining an illegal dump site at their property on state Route 152 in Toronto.
(Gossett can be contacted at email@example.com.)