ICYMI: Dolan’s Radioactive Roads Bill Moving Forward Despite Serious Public Health Concerns

In case you missed it… Republican state Sen. Matt Dolan defended the use of a radioactive deicing solution on Ohio’s roadways in a Cleveland.com article Sunday, and while environmental watchdogs are raising questions about public safety, Dolan is pushing forward with legislation to remove oversight and protections regarding its use.

KEY HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Ohio Department of Transportation snowplows had been spreading AquaSalina, a deicing solution, on the state’s roadways for years when an environmental group last year obtained an unreleased Ohio Department of Natural Resources report that found high levels of radioactivity in the product.
  • After the 2017 report became public, state government and company officials attempted to debunk it, criticizing the testing protocol and findings as flawed and “worthless.”
  • All of the samples were found to contain elevated levels of radioactivity in excess of state limits on the discharge of radioactive materials. The average radioactivity in AquaSalina also exceeded the drinking water limits for Radium 226 and Radium 228 by a factor of 300. Human consumption of any amount of AquaSalina is highly discouraged, the report said.
  • Heavy metals and radiologicals accumulate in the soil and become problematic for drinking water,” said Trish Demeter, the Ohio Environmental Council vice president of Policy, Energy. “They don’t just go away. The more you use deicers the more these toxins build up over a long period of time.”
  • Members of the state legislature rejected the reports’ findings, introducing a law last year that would ease regulations on AquaSalina, treating it as a commodity rather than toxic waste derived from oil- and gas-drilling operations. The law would also prevent ODNR from imposing any additional requirements.
  • “Nobody has any intentions to hurt the environment or dirty up the water and the air,” said State Senator Matt Dolan of Chagrin Falls, who sponsored the bill in the senate.
  • Chronic exposure to radium or radon gas can result in increased cases of bone, liver, breast and lung cancer, according to testimony by the OEC.
  • In December, the house approved the brine law by a vote of 55-33. The legislative session ended, however, before the senate could vote. Both bills, which are identical, are expected to be reintroduced in a few weeks, Dolan said.
  • AquaSalina is derived from reprocessed brine obtained from conventional vertical oil and gas wells, not horizontal shale wells, which produce a fracking brine that is prohibited by law from being spread on roadways. Fracking brine can contain toxic substances such as kerosene, benzene and hydrochloric acid.
  • One of ODNR test findings, however, was that the radiation in AquaSalina was higher than raw brine. It said Nature’s Own Source was producing Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material, or TENORM.
  • By moving forward with the brine bill, the legislature chose to reject both the 2017 ODNR report and the testimony of environmental groups, those opposed to the bill say.
  • “The 2017 report raises a ton of questions,” OEC’s Demeter said. “There’s no real understanding about the threat of this material. We need stringent testing protocols. What are the assurances for public safety and environmental protection?”

READ MORE:

Cleveland.com: “Radioactive road deicer rules under review by Ohio legislature; debate over public safety continues

###