Ashtabula County Water Watch

Clean water is a human right.

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Questions for Town Hall re: Petmin Pig Iron Plant in Ashtabula 10.29.19

Questions for town hall on 10.29.19 at KSU Ashtabula auditorium at 6pm regarding Petmin Pig Iron Plant:

1. At the Meet the Candidates Night on October 16, Jim Timonere stated that Petmin will pump waste water from the pig iron plant to the Ashtabula Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) where it will be treated and discharged into Lake Erie and regulated under the existing permit held by the WWTP. Our questions regarding industrial waste water from the pig iron plant are as follows:

Regarding wastewater from the pig iron plant to be treated at the municipal WWTP . . . .

-What is the plant’s water source for industrial processes and what is the anticipated daily volume consumed?
-How will wastewater be generated by the plant? Specifically, in what industrial processes is water used and wastewater produced?
-What will be the volume of wastewater pumped to the WWTP daily?
-What chemicals are going to be eliminated in the wastewater and at what concentration?
-8 million dollars were spent by city last year for upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant (Star Beacon 3.7.18). Did Petmin contribute to these upgrades?
-If additional treatment processes are required, or additional upgrades are needed, who will pay? Will the cost be shouldered by Ashtbula residents?

Notes: This is on the WWTP website: average daily design flow of 12 million gallons per day (MGD), 18 MGD peak flow, 24 MGD max hydraulic flow. Actual daily operating flows vary from about 3.6 to 5.3 MGD. Local industries contribute 0.21 MGD. Councilperson Augie Pugliese has recently stated that the water treatment plant is not operating at 100% as they are awaiting parts from France for UV lights and centrifuge.

2. In the EPA’s Permit-to-Install, there are no requirements for on-site monitoring of any of the modeled air pollutants, but it states that existing monitoring stations in the county will be used. Can you provide more details about where these monitoring stations are, what they test for, and where that data can be found?

3. Will EPA be agreeable to fenceline monitoring?

4. There should be complete transparency of The City agreement with Petmin as the citizens are “The City.” Where can the agreement between The City of Ashtabula and Petmin be found (tax breaks, what type of infrastructure The City is responsible, monies projected to be paid to The City, etc.)?

5. The pig iron plant will pollute the local environment with nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, greenhouse gases, volatile organic compounds and other waste products. While the emissions levels have technically been approved by the EPA, the plant will still contribute hundreds of tons per year of toxic chemicals to our local environment. Without the plant, we would not have to worry about polluting the air, land and water and could focus efforts on building on our strengths – like clean water for drinking, recreation, wineries, tourism? Don’t we, Ashtabula residents deserve more?

6. Do the panelists believe in climate change caused by human activity? How will the Petmin pig iron plant, and its release of greenhouse gases contribute to climate change?

7. The Permit-to-Install states that a third party will be capturing CO2 from the pig iron plant emissions. Who is that third party? Have they submitted a permit to the EPA yet? When will they begin their operation? As of 2/9/19 (air permit date) no application for the CO2 plant had been submitted. Not sure if one has been submitted since then.

8. What are the specific VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that will be released by the Petmin plant?

9. Ashtabula Co ranks 68th out of 88 counties in terms of health outcomes ( Citizens of Ashtabula are asking The City of Ashtabula/Petmin to prepare a baseline health study as well as continuous monitoring/study after the plant is operational. What plan is in place to monitor the health of inhabitants both prior to and after plant is operational?

10. What emergency plan is going to be in place for accidental pollution discharges into air or water? Where can the public view this plan?

11. Petmin, a South African company, has received numerous environmental permit violations for its coal mining operations in South Africa. What assurance can we have that Petmin will comply with its EPA permit here in Ashtabula? What monitoring and enforcement is in place to ensure this?

12. The smelting process to produce pig iron involves removing impurities including phosphorus, manganese, and sulfur. Phosphorus contamination is a primary contributor to harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie. Can you describe how phosphorus waste from pig iron production is collected and disposed. What safeguards will be used to prevent phosphorus contamination of Lake Erie?

13. The biggest argument in favor of constructing the pig iron plant here in Ashtabula is that it will create 110 permanent jobs and contribute $35 million (check this) annually to the local economy. However, there are many (on 10.23.19 there were 23; employment vacancies at manufacturing facilities in the area, which offer the same type of factory-type work. We know that the local economy is struggling in part because we cannot attract or keep young professionals in the area and that is in part because millennials are not attracted to factory jobs. Given that we cannot seem to attract young workers to existing manufacturing job vacancies, why do we think younger workers will flock here to fill jobs at Petmin?

14. Petmin is boasting this project as part of a manufacturing revival in this country and points out that manufacturing is a $33 billion industry employing 200,000 people nationally. At the same time, the tourism industry employs 7.8 million people and earns $1.6 trillion dollars annually. So not only is tourism a stronger industry economically, but it could also be leveraged to promote urban and environmental beautification and draw attention to protecting our most valuable natural resource, Lake Erie. Would it not make sense to focus on promoting the tourism industry here in Ashtabula rather than a manufacturing plant that will contribute to air, water, and noise pollution?

15. How will slag by product, which contains impurities removed during smelting, be handled and disposed? Where will it go?

16. Based on modeling data in the air permit, hourly and annual emissions of nitrogen oxide gases exceed Significant Impact Levels, and hourly nitrogen oxide emissions exceed the typical EPA rule of being less than 50% of the PSD increment. However, the EPA sometimes allows emissions up to 83% of PSD increments. The hourly nitrogen oxide emissions from the plant were modeled at 70% of the PSD increment and therefore just squeak by under EPA standards. However, there will be no on-site monitoring of nitrogen oxide emissions required. How can we be assured that acute, hourly emissions of nitrogen oxides will not pose health risks to people living in close proximity to the plant?

17. The pig iron plant proposes to use 15,000 million BTUs of natural gas daily ( This is more than double the consumption of every household in Ashtabula County combined. Much of this natural gas will likely be sourced from horizontal hydraulic fracturing in Pennsylvania, a process which is known to be highly damaging to the environment and public health. Not only will the gas be sourced from the toxic practice of hydrofracking, but fracking waste from Pennsylvania is making its way back to Ashtabula County and being pumped into any of 15 active class 2 injection wells where it threatens to contaminate water and soil in our rich farmlands. This raises the question of whether the economic gains anticipated from the pig iron plant outweigh the environmental and public health costs, including cumulative impacts from interdependent processes such as hydrofracking and development associated with the Risberg pipeline, which seems to have been tailor made to this project and can pave the way for more industries that consume natural gas. What analysis has been done to take into account these cumulative impacts?

Injection Well Talk at Ashtabula District Library

Tuesday, May 21, 2019
Ashtabula County District Library
4335 Park Ave, Ashtabula, OH 44004

Hosted by Ashtabula NAACP
Dr. Auch will be available to discuss the impact of injection wells in Ohio and answer questions you may have related to injection wells in Ohio.

Dr. Ted Auch is Great Lakes Program Coordinator, Administrator and Staff Photographer for The FracTracker Alliance. Before working with FracTracker Ted completed a postdoc at the Cleveland Botanical Garden researching the potential benefits of Vacant Land Repurposing (VLR) across the post-industrial Midwest. He received a PhD and BS from the University of Vermont and pursued an MS at Virginia Tech looking at the obstacles to tree growth across Appalachian strip mines and mountaintop removal sites. He has led in the development of countless analyses of the nexus of multiple factors impacting food, water, and energy in the Great Lakes and Ohio. His most recent research looked at the impact and geographic extent of fracking waste disposal in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska. He produces photo-essays, most recently “Frackland” in Belt Magazine. Last fall, he and colleagues in the United Kingdom, published a paper titled “The Human Right to Water and Unconventional Energy” in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. He and his wife live with their two boys in Shaker Heights.

Seeking Ashtabula County Activists for Interviews!

Stories from local activists inspire current and future generations to act!  Please contact us to share your stories if you organized any social justice efforts in Ashtabula County – past or present!

We are audio recording interviews of Ashtabula County activists, from the past and present.  In particular, we are interested in capturing the stories of those we may soon lose.  Many youth today do not see or feel the spirit of action and change that has historically been a part of our county.  As long as there was oppression, ignorance, and injustice in our community, there too have been resisters fighting the good fight!  Activists stories are the ones left untold and unrecorded in history.  These are the stories we want to capture NOW!  Before they are gone!

Please help us! Are you an activist?  Was someone you know once an activist?  Please contact us! Help us get these stories on record so we can share and inspire!


’17 Total Fracking Wastewater in Our Communities

Thanks to the Buckeye Environmental Network for compiling 2017 total amounts of Fracking Wastewater (“brine”) being brought into our communities.  Below click on each image to see how much toxic waste was brought into your own OH county, if it came from in state or out, and which companies in Ashtabula County are bringing how much.  Petrowater tops the charts here; a local company owned by Phil Dietrich.

Oral History Project: Activism in Ashtabula

Join us! We’re soliciting volunteers to help us with an awesome oral history project!

Ashtabula County Water Watch has some incredible members and acquaintances who have been fighting the good fight for a long time.  Help us interview activists from the anti-nuke era of the 1970s all the way up through the activists fighting injection wells today.  Hear about long term campaigns to stop Perry Nuclear Power Plant from being built, marches on Washington, the Sunflower Alliance, and actions that shut down the Ashtabula Harbor!

When activists organize in our community, they never just do it for the environment – they do it for the people!  Many environmental campaigns tied into welfare rights and the labors of love that brought Head Start to our county. The individuals who fought for the poor also fought for clean water.  These inspirational people who lived these amazing stories are RIGHT HERE in our own town!  We need to capture their flame and help pass it on!

We need volunteers of all abilities and interests in this project – interviewers, filmmakers, people with recording equipment, journalists, editors of recorded media, and more I’m sure!

Help connect the past to the present!  Be the conduit for these powerful stories!

Contact us to get involved today!

Raising $$ for Water Testing

Ashtabula County Water Watch volunteers are currently accepting donations for water testing. We hope to organize fundraisers and solicit donations throughout the next few years. We want to test for radioactive materials in the springs around Ashtabula County, where many people get their drinking water (for example, the one on Rt 193, just downstream of all those toxic plants along Middle Rd. in Ashtabula).

The water tests that reveal radioactive elements and other toxins are much more expensive than regular water tests. They can be over $200 for each sample.  Also, samples are collected very carefully and taken straight to the closest testing lab – which is all the way in Cuyahoga Falls – a trek from Ashtabula. Expenses to gather this important information add up quickly.

We are soliciting volunteers to help us fund raise for this cause! Please contact us to volunteer today!

Please Donate! Mail to this address:
Ashtabula County Water Watch
c/o Stephanie Blessing, Treasurer
2873 East Maple Rd.
Jefferson, OH 44047

If anyone wishes to test their own water, this lab is accredited to test drinking water for radiologicals by EPA Region V.  Be sure to ask them ahead of time what the procedure is – they may need to take the sample themselves.

Summit Environmental Technologies, Inc.
3310 Win Street
Cuyahoga Falls, OH 44223

Defend Our Mother Earth: OH vs PA

This Mother’s Day, activists dramatized a “battle on the border” of Ohio and Pennsylvania to defend Mother Earth!  It was a networking potluck with a bit of playful theater.


Despite cold weather, activists from PA and OH turned out in high spirits! A reporter from the Gazette came, as well as about 2 dozen people from Erie, Butler Co PA, Columbus, Youngstown, Cleveland, and Ashtabula Co OH. We enjoyed each other’s company, and shared stories. Great networking! There is a clear thirst for these kinds of activities, as many more wanted to come but couldn’t. We’ll have to organize something again with more schedules involved.


Unfortunately, the environmental movement is treated as terrorism and government arms came out in unnecessary numbers. ODNR, OH police, and PA police were all the first to arrive! 🙂 They expressed concerns about property damage and mostly traffic safety on the bridge for our photo-op, Barrel-Battle-At-The-Border. After ample discussion, we decided to stay off the causeway and made a dramatized state line instead. We had fun pretending to fight over who is taking the toxic fracking waste that comes from PA and OH natural gas well fracking. Maybe one day peace-lovers will be able to get together without government arms chaperoning.


Here is more about the event from our press release:

Ohioans are sick of being the dumping ground for the radioactive toxic wastewater that comes from hydraulic fracturing of natural gas wells in Pennsylvania.  Likewise, Pennsylvanians don’t want nasty drilling waste in their backyards either!  Activists will butt heads this Mother’s Day, as residents from each state refuse fracking wastewater in their own communities.


Ohio’s “Ashtabula County Water Watch” (ACWW) is joining forces with Pennsylvania’s “Our Water, Our Air, Our Rights” (OWOAOR) to battle over our common Mother.  Anti-fracking sentiment is building in our region, and passions collide on the border! Activists will play “hot potato” with a barrel of “fracking waste” on the bridge connecting Ohio to Pennsylvania, as they each battle to defend Mother Earth.


Activists from both states are encouraged to attend to network and build ties toward common goals.  Other groups expected to attend include: Marcellus Outreach Butler, Committee for the Youngstown Community Bill of Rights, Cleveland Environmental Action Network (CLEAN), Northeast Ohio Sierra Club, and more. Come out to build bridges with fellow activists – or to battle on them!  It’s a “Barrel Battle at the Border!”


Fracking for natural gas in PA (and elsewhere) requires enormous amounts of fresh water that can never be used again once turned into “brine” wastewater that is injected into one of OH’s many Class II injection wells (among other disposal methods). Pymatuning Reservoir is a beautiful fresh water system enjoyed by OH and PA residents alike, making it the perfect setting to highlight frack-water issues in both OH and PA. Come learn about the threats to fresh water that our states share.


Sunday, May 14, 2017, Mother’s Day

4pm: Event begins

5pm: Barrel Battle at the Border! – Photo opportunity

Followed by potluck and networking – bring a dish to share if you are able

Ohio side of Pymatuning State Park

“Main Beach Pavilion”

Andover, OH

Just off of Rt 85 / 285

Contact ACWW with questions: (440) 549-0111,


Join us for the Battle at the Border!  Which state will win? …


Sponsored by: Network for Oil & Gas Accountability & Protection (NEOGAP), Ohio Food & Farm Association (OEFFA), FrackFree Geauga, Cleveland Environmental Action Network (CLEAN), Northeast Ohio Sierra Club, Faith Communities Acting Together (FACT)

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