For Immediate Release: February 27, 2020

Contact: Damon Motz-Storey, Healthy Climate Program Director, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, damon@oregonpsr.org, (303)-913-5634

Over 20 Organizations Call on Oregon Department of Energy to Fine Companies Responsible for Illegally Dumping Radioactive Fracking Waste in Oregon

[Salem, OR] – Today over 20 organizations sent a letter to the Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) urging the agency to reconsider its decision not to fine Chemical Waste Management, which illegally dumped over 2.5 million pounds of radioactive fracking waste at its Arlington, OR, facility over a three-year period. In February, ODOE announced a Notice of Violation for Chemical Waste Management, but the department declined to fine the corporation, stating the three year-long violation of Oregon’s prohibition against radioactive waste dumping constituted a single violation.

“It is clear that a significant civil penalty is both warranted under the circumstances and necessary to incentivize future compliance with Oregon’s hazardous and radioactive waste prohibitions,” said James Saul, Clinical Professor and Staff Attorney with the Earthrise Law Center at Lewis & Clark Law School, who wrote the letter on behalf of a large coalition of groups. “We urge ODOE to impose the necessary penalty that will protect public health and the environment.”

“Fracking is dangerous and toxic at every stage of production,” said Damon Motz-Storey, Healthy Climate Program Director at Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility. “We are concerned that Oregon has failed to send a strong signal that protects the health and safety of communities who may unwittingly become dumping grounds for the oil and gas industry’s radioactive fracking waste.”

The State of Oregon has fined other companies for less severe violations of Oregon law. In November 2019 the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) fined Heritage Environmental Services LLC and C.H. Robinson Company Inc. $24,000 and $19,200, respectively, for paperwork violations relating to their acceptance and transport of wastes mixed with waste pesticides. “Chemical Waste Management, meanwhile, is being let off scot-free for accepting radioactive waste that ODOE has already determined violates Oregon’s standards, which clearly prohibit the establishment of a new radioactive waste dump in Oregon,” said Erin Saylor, staff attorney with Columbia Riverkeeper.  

“I call on Oregon to take immediate action to hold Chemical Waste Management accountable,” said Cathy Sampson-Kruse, a member of the Confederated Tribes of Umatilla Indian Reservation and a Columbia Riverkeeper board member. “The action by Chemical Waste Management is unacceptable: it endangers all living beings in the path of this fracking waste as well as our land, air, and waterways.”

Oregon Department of Energy Director Janine Benner briefed the Oregon House Energy and Environment Committee today on the radioactive fracking waste situation in Arlington. The Oregon legislature is currently considering amendments to House Bill 4014, which would direct the Oregon Department of Energy to develop new rules and enforcement plans to prevent future radioactive fracking waste from being dumped in Oregon. The bill passed out of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee last week.

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Stand Up to Oil is a growing coalition of groups opposed to new oil terminals and an increase in oil transport through the Northwest, while working to improve safety measures for oil currently traveling through the region.

Power Past Fracked Gas is a thriving coalition of Pacific Northwest health, environmental, faith, and community groups that believe in the power of clean energy and the value of clean water, and who oppose the expansion of new fracked gas projects.