COLUMBUS, Ohio—The Ohio House of Representatives on Thursday passed legislation allowing brine from vertical oil and gas drilling to be used for road de-icing, despite concerns that the salty liquid contains dangerous and radioactive chemicals.
House Bill 393, which heads to the Senate after passing the House 52-31, is touted by supporters as a way to promote the use of a product that is a safer and less corrosive alternative to rock salt to keep roads ice-free.
State Rep. Anthony DeVitis noted that for more than a decade, the Ohio Department of Transportation used brine from drilling operations.
However, in 2014, state lawmakers imposed restrictions on the sale of fracking byproducts that inadvertently applied to vertical wells too. DeVitis said this bill, which would not apply to brine used in horizontal “fracking” drilling operations, would rectify that move.
“It encourages recycling. It encourages protecting our environment. It encourages small businesses to invest, do research and establish business in Ohio,” said DeVitis, a Republican from Green.
No one spoke on the House floor on Thursday against the legislation.
However, the bill has been opposed by a number of environmental groups, which point to a state report showing the salty liquid has radium levels up to 500 times higher than federal drinking-water limits.
State law allows Ohio to benefit financially from accepting fracking waste from other states. The state charges a 5-cent fee for the injection of each barrel of brine that is produced in Ohio. Conversely, the fee for the injection of each barrel of out-of-state brine is 20 cents. (Ohio on Receiving End of Fracking Waste)
How elastic language is–to call the use of radium-contaminated brine “recycling.”