ASHTABULA — Two vans filled with people criss-crossed the county on Saturday afternoon stopping at spots that highlight present and past environmental dangers in Ashtabula County, according to organizers of the event sponsored by Ashtabula County Water Watch.

The “Toxic but Terrific Tour” was organized by the ACWW to view Superfund sites, operating injection wells and earthquake epicenters they believe are connected to injection well operation, according to information the group shared during a lecture at Harbor-Topky Memorial Library in Ashtabula before the tour began.

The group formed after the gas and oil drilling technique called fracking was rumored to be coming to Ashtabula County. Fracking is accomplished by using millions of gallons of water to crush shale and release gas and oil from the rock.

The possibility of fracking in Ashtabula County still exists, but market conditions have slowed the rush to drill in the county.

Organizers of the ACWW said they are also concerned about the growing number of injection wells in Ashtabula County that are used to bury the waste from fracking sites in southern Ohio and surrounding states.

Gabrielle Kaplan, president of Life Watch Group based in Cleveland, said people need to know that injection wells increase the likelihood of earthquakes.

“If we are going to do anything about these toxins we need to organize,” said John Wright who is one of ACWW’s leaders who lives in Sheffield Township. He said the group is interested in new members and meets again from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on June 16 at the Jefferson Recreation Center.

Vanessa Pesec, president of the Network for Oil and Gas Accountability and Protection, gave an overview of concerns relating to the oil and gas industry. She said fracking can have negative effects on the environment because of the many stages of a well’s existence and the many chances for a problem to manifest itself over many years.

Pesec also questioned legislation that she believes governs the oil and gas industry too loosely. She said oil and gas companies do not have to release all the chemicals used in the fracking process that are then buried in injection wells.

Wright said funds for the tour were provided by a mini-grant from the Center for Health and Environmental Justice.

Pesec said NEOGAP helps people organize to educate citizens about potential environmental issues related to the oil and gas industry. “We encourage people county by county,” she said.

Wright and other organizers also said the county has many wonderful elements such as tourism and other agriculturally related industries that can provide a bright future for the county with less environmental issues.

 

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