A legacy of externalized costs

Letter to the Editor, Marietta Times by Victor Elam, May 6

Externalized costs are costs that are generated by one party who benefits but a third party pays for those costs directly or indirectly. The Mid-Ohio Valley is rife with examples of its residents and its lands paying the price while others reap the rewards, from forest harvest in the early 1900’s followed by oil, coal, gas extraction to industry leaving behind poisoned employees and lands.
One such example occurred in 1999 when an industry near Marietta released harmful chemicals into the Ohio River that killed thousands of fish and at least 990,000 mussels over a 20 mile stretch of the river. The guilty parties paid a 3.25 million dollar penalty for their misdeed yet 30 years later and after great efforts to restore the mussel population, the population has not recovered.
The public often has no opportunity to have a voice when these externalized costs are forced upon them, but there is a proposal submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) that will require a permit and is subject to public comment and it so happens to have potential to affect the same area as the chemical release in 1999. The proposal is to bring well waste by barge to a docking site and pump the waste material from the barge to existing holding tanks where it will then be transferred to trucks and transported to area injection wells for disposal. So here again the residents of the MOV are subjected to risk of contamination from spills or unknown risks resulting from the injection wells to help others profit while we get nothing. If something does go wrong, we will suffer or the environment in which we live will and no amount of money will be able to correct the damage.
I encourage you to provide comment regarding this project to: lrh.usace.army.mil/missions/regulatory/public-notices/article/2142164
Unless an extension is granted, comment is being taken until May 6. In the past public hearings were held for these types of actions but the USACE has elected to forego those hearings and only accept comment online. If you feel that this should be delayed until we can have a proper public hearing please let the Huntington District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers know.