MARTINS FERRY – Raw water testing at Martins Ferry shows radium levels below drinking water limits set by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Mayor John Davies said.
Raw water is water that has not yet been treated at the city’s sewage treatment plant. Once the water is treated, it is then considered drinking water.
Davies said lab tests on the raw water sample showed radium-226 at 0.8 picocurie per liter (pCi / L) and radium-228 at 0.679 pCi / L.
Combined, these raw water readings total 1.479 pCi / L – well below the maximum contaminant level for radium in treated drinking water, which is 5 pCi / L, according to the Ohio EPA.
The city has also had its treated water tested. For radium-226, the level was 0.552 pCi / L, and for radium-228, the level was 0.631 pCi / L, for a total of 1.183 pCi / L for combined radium.
Davies had the water tested in an attempt to allay concerns expressed by members of the affected Ohio River residents. In recent weeks, group members have said they believe the city’s aquifer is at risk of being damaged by radioactive contaminants, such as radium, which they say could come from the facility. nearby Austin Master Services fracturing waste treatment facility.
They cited previous instances where the facility had received citations from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for not properly containing waste inside the facility. They are also concerned that the facility will be flooded or that there will be a fire.
Davies said city officials are planning to have a public meeting with CORR members Thursday at 4 p.m. in the council chamber, located on the second floor of the city’s building on Fifth Street.
CORR recently sent a letter to Davies, City Council and General Counsel Paul Stecker, claiming that Austin Master Services is in violation of the Source Water Protection Zone Ordinance approved by the council in 2007. The facility opened in the city years after the adoption of this ordinance.
Davies, who was not mayor when Austin Master Services opened, said he was unsure whether city council had granted the company a waiver to operate in the source protection area of ‘water. He added, however, that he couldn’t imagine the Ohio EPA would grant the company operating licenses there if it wasn’t allowed to do so.
“I can’t imagine them granting a permit if it wasn’t legal” he said.
Davies added that the city is making its “due diligence,” however, to protect its well fields and water treatment plant.
He noted that the city had contacted Austin Master Services with questions regarding its contingency plans. The city plans to ensure that the facility operates within the rules of the source water protection zone, he added.
Source Water Protection Zone calls for protecting the city’s drinking water source by preventing contamination of its wellfields, including groundwater, within a one-year and five-year protection zone . The ordinance allows the city to refuse the construction of any business or plant that could threaten the safety of the well field or groundwater. The city’s water treatment plant and wellfields are located along the bank of the Ohio River.
CORR believes there are several parts of the ordinance that the facility appears to be in violation of with respect to the area of potential drinking water impact, or Zone 2.
“Section 1155 also states that:” Any facility involving the collection, handling, manufacture, use, storage, transfer or disposal of any solid or liquid material or waste, unless a special exception whether granted by permit or other ordinance, must have a containment system that is easy to inspect and the purpose of which is to intercept any leaks or releases from the enclosure or primary containment structure. Underground tanks or buried conduits carrying such materials should have double walls and inspectable sumps. ‘ Austin Masters has no secondary containment – they store waste directly on the ground, ” according to CORR’s letter to the city.
The group also notes that another part of the ordinance provides for facilities to store petroleum products over 100 gallons in one or more elevated tanks, and that the tanks must have a secondary containment system.
“Austin Masters has liquids stored in the building that are not in overhead tanks. We can show you pictures of inside inspection reports from the (Ohio Department of Natural Resources) as examples of these apparent violations listed here. … We will also share the most recent ODNR inspection reports from June 2021. They do not look like the pictures of the installation the mayor gave us on September 1, which had no date and time. The images are much worse ”, CORR adds.
The group also provided a link to the “Evaluation of the drinking water source for Martins Ferry” established in 2003 by the Ohio Department of Environmental Protection.
“Martins Ferry’s wells are very sensitive to contamination due to several factors, in particular a shallow aquifer”, CORR states.
Austin Master Services spokesperson Christopher Martin responded to news of the CORR letter with the following statement provided to the Times Leader:
“We are disappointed that concerned residents of the Ohio River have used the media to raise these issues and have yet to verify their statements. We are committed to presenting the facts in a clear and transparent manner so that our neighbors and leaders are not misled by false information presented as “facts”. Martin said.
“Austin Master Services takes these allegations very seriously and works very hard to keep our team, our customers and the community safe. We have a very close relationship with ODNR and work in conjunction with their Recommended Actions. We also have a solid working relationship with the town of Martins Ferry.
Martin declined to elaborate on what statements from CORR he believes are not factual.
Ray Canter, a Martins Ferry resident who recently joined the CORR group, expressed concern about the potential impact the Austin Master Services facility could have on the health of the community. He wants the city to learn more.
“I would like them to get a plan of action from the Austin Masters Disaster Company. I think they need to be better supervised. I don’t think we have someone in town with the capacity to do it the right way ”, Canter said, referring to city officials.
Canter added that if the facility breaches the city’s source protection zone, he believes it should be closed. He also believes the city should check the property for possible building code violations, as it does for residential properties.
“I’m not trying to create problems or make people lose their jobs, I just think it’s a danger to people’s lives. … Maybe people get sick and don’t know why ”, Canter said.
CORR officials, including Bridgeport resident Beverly Reed, have expressed concern in the past about potential radioactive dust leaving the facility through open doors or trucks passing through contaminated water and then exiting into the rooms. public streets.