Earlier this week a truck carrying oil and gas wastewater overturned in the small Ohio town of Barnesville. It spilled 5,000 gallons of wastewater into a stream only a few hundreds yards from where the stream runs into a drinking water reservoir. The accident happened around 3 a.m. one morning. According to news reports, the Ohio EPA is testing water in the reservoir to determine the level of contamination. It's been reported that the oil and gas operator says the wastewater was produced water from a producing well, rather than fracking wastewater. Both, however, can contain materials quite toxic to human health, including radioactive materials, heavy metals, and hydrocarbons. Fortunately, Barnesville has other reservoirs to supply its immediate drinking water needs. There were no other vehicles involved. Photos from the scene show the extent of the rollover, so one has to wonder if it was driver error or a safety problem with the truck.
Oil and gas wastewater can be very toxic. This accident illustrates why we need much stronger regulations for how oil and gas waste, whether it is production waste or fracking waste, is handled, transported, stored and disposed. It should not be transported near a drinking water reservoir at all, and should be in trucks with safe drivers and safe mechanics. Dangerous oil and gas waste should not be exempt from our federal hazardous waste regulations, or from any truck safety regulations.