Martins Ferry Officials Seek To Visit Austin’s Master Frack Waste Recycling Plant | News, Sports, Jobs

The entrance to the Austin Master Services frack water recycling plant at Martins Ferry is shown on Monday. City officials are still hoping for a visit to the facility. Photo by Shelley Hanson

Martins Ferry officials are still hoping for a visit to the Austin Master Services frack water recycling facility.

Mayor John Davies said he is still awaiting a response from plant officials which recently caused concern among a few residents in the Bridgeport area because of what is being dealt with there.

At a recent Martins Ferry board meeting, Bev Reed, a resident of Bridgeport, said she was concerned about the radioactivity of the waste processed at the plant and its possible leaching into the water table.

Although Davies told Reed it would be unlikely to reach the aquifer used by the city for drinking water, Reed asked the city to contact the environmental protection department of the Ohio to test city water for radium more frequently.

“It is tested for radium by the EPA,” Davies said. “The last test was 0.55 (picoCuries per liter) and you are allowed 5.0 (pCi / L).”

Davies said he was unsure of the EPA’s guidelines for testing for radium, but that “they are here frequently.”

During this time, city water workers are required to monitor drinking water daily.

“We test our water daily and it is 100% safe to drink,” he said.

Austin Master Services is located in the city’s industrial park on First Street. There are other businesses there with the Martins Ferry high school football stadium. Reed pointed this out at the recent board meeting.

She noted that she was concerned about the impact a plant fire would have on the city’s water treatment plant, which is also located along First Street and the Ohio River.

Austin Master Services opened in the city in 2015. It processes waste created by the natural gas drilling method called “fracking” of the region’s shale. The “fracking” process itself uses water, chemicals and sand, but what is also released are the naturally occurring radioactive active materials found in the shale – in the form of uranium, radium and of plutonium.

Waste processed at the Austin Masters facility is shipped to landfills. If it is deemed too radioactive after treatment, it is then shipped to an underground facility in Utah.

An Austin Masters employee said Monday the company had not commented.

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