There were a lot of new faces along Wells Street Tuesday in Sistersville. Those faces belonged to members of Appalachia Resist!, a group dedicated to fighting "the poisoning and exploitation of Appalachia" in regard to the current influx of hydraulic fracturing sites in the area.
However, the group was not in Sistersville to protest. They stopped by Wells Street to recoup and refuel with food following a successful protest effort in New Matamoras Ohio, where they were able to shut down and blockade the Green Hunter Fracking Waste Storage Facility. During the protest, 10 of their members were arrested under charges of trespassing.
Madeline Ffitch, resident of Athens County, Ohio, and spokesperson for Appalachia Resist!, described the dangers of fracking which they feel are being ignored by politicians and industry alike.
APPALACHIA RESIST! BREAKS FOR FOOD-- Members of Appalachia Resist! convene in The Fort on Wells Street in Sistersville following their successful protest in New Matamoras, Ohio.
She said that the Department of Natural Resources has a conflict of interest when it comes to fracking, receiving 20-cents for each barrel brought into the state of Ohio, while the residents are put in danger by the waste generated in West Virginia and Pennsylvania and then dumped into Class 2 Injection Wells in Athens County.
The group does not solely consist of Appalachian residents. There are hundreds of members, including people from Pittsburgh, Pa., Cincinnati, Ohio, and even a member from Canada.
"People all over the continent are feeling the effect," said Ffitch.
She also cited findings in October by the U.S. Geological Survey revealing that frack and waste materials have 3,000 times more radiation than federal drinking water standards.
Ffitch explained that yesterday's mobilization was related to recent pressure put on the Coast Guard by oil and gas companies. She said that, currently, waste produced by fracking cannot be legally shipped on barges. She believes that, if the Coast Guard gives companies the green light to do so, it would be a disaster waiting to happen.
According to her, the companies want to use barges because they can fit the material from over 1,000 trucks on them. She spoke of statistics claiming that the movement of wastes by barge are less likely to result in an accident, and called those statistics misleading.
"If even one barge leaked, sunk or spilled it would threaten the drinking water of five million people," she said.
After leaving Sistersville, the group planned on heading back to its base camp at an undisclosed location.
Besides combatting fracking, waste storage facilities and the shippers of hazardous wastes, another of their goals is to help people learn about water testing and the dangers of fracking. More information about Appalachia Resist! can be found at appalachiaresist. wordpress.com.