Local Residents Hold U.S. Army Corps Accountable

Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition

Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
Press Release

View this Press Release Online  —  Sep 24, 2020


For Immediate Release

Contact: Robin Blakeman, robin@ohvec.org

Local Residents Hold U.S. Army Corps Accountable


HUNTINGTON, W.Va. Regional residents are pushing back against efforts to permit barge terminals to offload oil and gas waste shipped on the Ohio River. On Sept. 23, Robin Blakeman, Carolyn Sayles, Shelly Corbin and Sarah Carballo delivered 50 pages of public comments to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) office in Huntington, WV.

According to a statement written by Mary Aguilera, an organizer with Buckeye Environmental Network, “We are concerned citizens of the Ohio River Valley who will ultimately be the ones impacted by decisions being made by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to allow oil and gas waste to be barged on the Ohio River.”

In March and April of this year, at the same time that Ohio took decisive measures to flatten the curve and reduce the spread of COVID-19 with stay-at-home orders, the USACE posted three barge permit applications on their website. Local communities were unaware of these permit notices because they were not posted in local newspapers as required for some state permits. Residents urged the agency to hold a public hearing to allow citizens an opportunity to voice their concerns. 

In response the USACE scheduled a virtual public meeting for one of the permits for DeepRock Solutions, LLC on Friday, August 7, at 6 p.m. However, according to participants, it was an ineffective solution and organized a virtual event to collect more public comments to share with the USACE.

“The virtual public meeting regarding the proposed Deep Rock barge facility near Marietta was very poorly run, with multiple steps necessary to register for and access this meeting, and changes were made 24 hours prior to the meeting,” said Robin Blakeman, a project coordinator with the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition. “For these reasons, a People’s Hearing was organized and run virtually by a collaboration of several regional grassroots groups.”

The inadequate dissemination of information and the inability to effectively communicate their concerns at the USACE public meeting on August 7 led to citizens to request a cumulative impact study on Ohio River water quality and Ohio River aquatic speciesa potential threat from the Deep Rock facility as well as the two other proposed barge facilities and another in-person public hearing at a future date that is not hindered by the health restrictions of the pandemic

“Here in the Huntington area, we are downstream of all three of the oil and gas waste barge facilities being considered for permitting by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,” Blakeman added. “Since the Ohio River is Huntington’s sole source of tap water, and the source of tap water for 5 million people in our region, it is imperative that the USACE do a cumulative impact study of all three of these facilities before permitting or allowing to start operations of any of them. We are especially concerned about the Deep Rock facility, due to its proximity to an already highly polluted area.”

The comments were received by a representative from the Huntington District Corps of Engineers on Sept. 23.

Click here to listen to an unabridged audio statement by Shelly Corbin, Senior Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign, outlining the concerns and demands of local residents.

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