Tuesday, November 26, 2013


This Friday, when we're all tired of turkey, the comment period closes on another turkey:


Notice of availability and request for comments.
The Coast Guard announces the availability of a proposed policy letter concerning the carriage of shale gas extraction waste water in bulk via barge, and invites public comment. The policy letter specifies the conditions under which a barge owner may request and be granted a Certificate of Inspection endorsement or letter allowing the barge to transport shale gas extraction waste water in bulk. The policy letter also defines the information the Coast Guard may require the barge owner to provide and specifies the additional requirements the Coast Guard is considering imposing on such barges. Upon reviewing comments received on this proposed policy letter, Coast Guard will issue the final policy letter and specify its effective date.

Comments must feature the docket number, USCG-2013-0915. They should include one's name, mailing address and an email address or a telephone number so Coast Guard officials can reach those whom it may question regarding their comments.

THERE ARE THREE OPTIONS FOR YOU TO COMMENT BEFORE NOV. 29TH. Caution: snail mail may take days to get there, possibly missing the 11/29 deadline.

1.Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail; D=USCG-2013-0915-0001

2. Fax comments to 202-493-2251

3. Mail them to Docket Management Facility (M-30), U.S. Department of Transportation, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE. , Washington , D.C. 20590-0001 . The comments must include the docket number, USCG-2013-0915.


The Coast Guard proposes to allow 4 million gallon barges of radioactive and chemical sludge and liquids from natural gas fracking pits to be loaded onto barges sailing down the Ohio & Mississippi Rivers . If you’re concerned about this, you need to let the U.S. Coast Guard hear from you by Friday
Three million people get their water from the Ohio River, and further downstream, millions more rely on drinking water from the Mississippi. If the Coast Guard's proposed policy is approved, barges carrying 10,000 barrels of fracking wastewater would float downstream from northern Appalachia to Ohio, Texas and Louisiana.

Environmentalists say a spill could be disastrous, because the wastewater would contaminate drinking water and the complicated brew of contaminants in fracking waste, including corrosive salts and radioactive materials, would be nearly impossible to clean up.
Despite the terrifying threat of a major spill, the Coast Guard has refused to conduct a rigorous, comprehensive environmental review, instead baselessly declaring that it doesn't expect the policy to have any substantial environmental impact. The Coast Guard even plans to allow the fracking industry to keep secret the toxic chemicals in its wastewater, making it dramatically harder to safely contain and clean up a spill if it occurs. Even if the wastewater gets to its intended destination without spilling, it still poses a major threat to communities that will become a dumping ground for fracking waste. Wastewater injection wells can cause dangerous earthquakes and drinking water contamination.

This turkey is easy to baste   !!! 

File your comment this week at regulations.gov.

USCG is NOT using rule making so they claim not to have to do an environmental impact statement. 

Feel free to copy any or all of the following:

We urge the USCG to adopt 5 principles in the rules and conditions for mixed liquid fracking waste shipment on the Ohio River .

1. “If you can’t tell us, you can’t ship”. Please require that accurate and complete characterization information be shared. Contents must be characterized by a competent chemical laboratory from at least five (5) locations in the barge, describing flammable characteristics, toxicity (BTEX contents), explosivity and radioactivity (in picoCuries) of the cargo. The Coast Guard should not accept claims that “it’s too tough to know what we are shipping”. If the shipper lacks knowledge, that’s not a valid excuse; they should instead have to meet US DOT manifest requirements when they send it by truck.

2. A single barge with each towboat. The math is simple. Barge capacity of 4 million gallons might be multiplied by 4 or 6 times in some Ohio River barge shipments. It is safer to deal with one barge’s problem than with 4 or 6. The risks of collision are reduced; the towboat crew is more attentive; the response ashore will face less of a mess because a fire on one will not be spread to adjacent barges.

3. A marine surveyor certificate for each barge at each port of embarkation should be required every time a shipment is prepared. Prior to loading, the professional marine surveyor examines the hull and tanks for structural integrity. Marine surveyors are independent professionals who traditionally evaluate readiness of ships for cargo transport. USCG respects the work of marine surveyors and should require their sign-off before the barge is loaded.

4. “Zero Downstream First Responder Surprises.” An email notification network alert shall be transmitted by the USCG Captain of the Port prior to movement, identifying the barge number and cargo, time and date of departure from any port, reaching at least:

• The National Response Center for chemical emergency coordination;
• The state fire marshals of Pennsylvania , Ohio , West Virginia , Kentucky , Indiana and Illinois ;
• The state emergency response commissions (EPCRA 1986 coordinators of emergency response services on land through county LEPCs);
• Emergency response on-scene coordinators of US EPA Regions 4 and 5;
• The Captain of the Port at each USCG designated facility downstream; and
• The command officer or designee for fire departments of communities over 50,000 population in the areas downstream of the shipment, giving estimated times of barge passage or (if stopping there) clearance of their ports.

5. A payment assurance as liquid as the cargo: An environmental cleanup “all-risks rider” to the marine insurance certificate for the estimated costs that would be expended in cleanup of a fire, spill or leak from the barge. Many drillers and shippers are short term, thinly capitalized Delaware LLCs who will evaporate faster than the slurry of BTEX left on the banks of the Ohio River . USCG should require proof that the barge carries an all-risks environmental cleanup rider, in writing, before the Captain of the Port allows the barge to be shipped. This should be written into the USCG rules and conditions for these gas waste shipments.

Thank you very much for considering this request, and Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families. Gravy boats yes, fracker waste barges no!

(With a tip of the hat to Prof. Jim O'Reilly, Univ. Cincinnati College of Law & College of Medicine MPH Faculty, for the expert suggestions and the clever “turkey” analogy in this notice).