YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A local firefighter who helps train others in handling hazardous materials said there is a growing concern over the impact oil and gas drilling could leave in Ohio.
Youngstown Battalion Chief Sil Caggiano said there are numerous drilling sites across the state, including a couple here in the Valley, where high levels of radium have been detected in the waste coming from the wells.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources found these wells in our area had radium levels much higher than what is acceptable for drinking water or water for industrial use:
Mahoning County: Route 46 well
Mahoning County: Homestead well
Columbiana County: Milltree well
Caggiano said he’s concerned firefighters and other first responders sent to spills or fires involving drilling materials could run into trouble trying to determine what hazards they’re dealing with and how to handle them.
“When I’m looking — as an incident commander at a scene, at a wellhead — and I’ve got to call somebody to get permission or get information, and Lord knows when they’re going to get back to me. It’s just putting another layer of government in between me and the information that I need.”
He said companies are allowed, by law, to withhold information on some of the chemicals and other hazards they use as “trade secrets.” That could cost valuable time trying to learn what they are in emergencies.
Caggiano told Cleveland Scene he isn’t against fracking, but he thinks the industry is getting a free pass.
ODNR said it found Radium-226 and Radium-228 in the brine tested. It said both chemicals can cause cancer, debilitating tumors and broken bones.
ODNR said radium can spread through the air, water and living things and will remain in the environment for a thousand years.