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October 27, 2021

Groups Challenge Approvals for Mountaineer Fracked Gas Storage Wells

ODNR violated state regulations and the federal Safe Drinking Water Act

Contacts

Miranda Fox, Earthjustice

Gabby Brown, Sierra Club

Columbus, OH

A coalition of environmental groups and clean water advocates filed a lawsuit late yesterday challenging permits for the Mountaineer Storage Hub, a proposed fracked gas liquids storage facility that would support a broader petrochemical buildout in the Ohio River Valley.

In granting approval for the Powhatan Salt Company to construct three injection wells for the storage facility in Monroe County, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) violated Ohio law and the federal Safe Drinking Water Act by failing to disclose that the caverns would be used for storing fracked gas liquids or to study the impacts on underground sources of drinking water.

The challenge to ODNR’s approval was brought by the Sierra Club, FreshWater Accountability Project, Concerned Ohio River Residents, and Buckeye Environmental Network, represented by Earthjustice, in the Ohio Court of Appeals.

“In approving the permits for these injection wells, ODNR ignored their own regulations as well as federal laws meant to protect our drinking water,” said Shelly Corbin, Ohio Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Dirty Fossil Fuels campaign. “We shouldn't have to force our state agencies to follow the law and prioritize our health and safety over the desires of corporate polluters, but since they've refused to do so, we'll see them in court.”

“Problems with well safety at similar storage caverns have caused explosions, fires, extensive property damage, severe injuries, and death. The surrounding community deserves all legal protections to be followed before a project with such severe potential consequences is allowed to move forward,” said Megan Hunter, Senior Attorney with Earthjustice.

Lea Harper, Managing Director of FreshWater Accountability Project, added, “The dismissal of our legitimate concerns and expert comments to issue the permit to allow solution mining of this magnitude next to a major drinking water source, destroying billions of gallons of freshwater and threatening billions more, only goes to show how irresponsible the ODNR has become to ignore the potentially disastrous outcomes of their deficient permitting process and the assumed absence of accountability for their decisions.”

“Our safety and the protection of our drinking water must come first,” said Teresa Mills, Executive Director of Buckeye Environmental Network. “Once again, communities are having to step in and do the job of regulators. The ODNR has a history of putting industry profits before people.”

“We have grave concerns about the threats posed by the storage of fracked gas liquids in the Ohio Valley and right next to the Ohio River, drinking water source for five million people,” said seventh generation Ohio Valley resident Jill Hunkler. “Our region is already suffering due to air and water pollution from the oil and gas industry. This facility will not benefit our community, it will only increase the risk of harm.”

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