Southeastern Ohio environmentalist group Appalachia Resist collaborated with out-of-state activists to lay siege to a Washington County hydraulic fracturing wastewater facility for roughly five hours on February 19, the Athens Messenger reported. Ten activists at the event organized by Appalachia Resist, which is based in Athens, were arrested after shutting down the GreenHunter Water site in New Matamoras, near Marietta.
Earth First, a co-sponsor of the event, is a national environmentalist group with a disruptive past dating back to eco-terrorism attacks group members committed in the 1980s. Nearly 100 protesters rallied against of the existence of the 10-acre GreenHunter Water facility, which serves as a storage facility for fracking fluid used to separate oil and natural gas from shale rock deep underground.
The Athens Messenger reported on February 21 that protesters shut down operations by locking a parking lot gate and setting up 30-foot tall metal pole, which one of the protesters sat atop in order to prevent trucks from passing for fear of harming him.
Of the ten protesters arrested, only three were Ohio natives. The other seven arrested protesters – Subina Ahmed, Matthew Almonte, Jessica Clark, Peter Garcia, Wendy Jennings, Alexandra Kotcheff, and Steven Schorzman – traveled from as far away as California to disrupt GreenHunter Water’s operations. Appalachia Resist and Earth First claim the company is “threatening the drinking water of millions of people.”
“There is nothing dangerous about the way the materials are shipped and the materials themselves are non-hazardous,” a company official assured The Marietta Times.
GreenHunter Water is currently working to secure approval from the United States Coast Guard to use the Ohio River to transport fracking fluid used at drilling sites in the region to the New Matamoras location.
Washington County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Mark Warden told The Marietta Times that members of the radical environmentalist groups stormed GreenHunter Water’s offices at around 10:30 in the morning, wearing masks and “tried to clog up some of the toilets.”
Local law enforcement agencies were called by GreenHunter Water employees as the protest grew more destructive. Warden noted additional arrests may still be made as authorities review security camera footage.
The February 19 siege of a private business marked the conclusion of Earth Firsts yearly “Organizers Conference and Winter Rondezvous,” which Appalachia Resist hosted at a campsite near Athens with the promise of “a kickass action” on the fifth and final day.
In an interview with The Marietta Times, Appalachia Resist organizer Madeline ffitch described the assault as a “direct action,” a phrase often used as a euphemism for radical leftist violence. Ffitch made it clear that disruption of GreenHunter Water’s business was the event organizers’ intent.
Ffitch, who pled guilty to the first-degree misdemeanor of aggravated trespassing after a 2012 arrest, has been forbidden from attending any protests or demonstrations against energy companies in Athens County.
In June 2012, Ms. ffitch chained herself to two concrete barrels at an Athens County fracking wastewater injection well for hours, disrupting business and incurring thousands of dollars of man-hours by local law enforcement agencies who had to transport her to jail in addition to controlling and dispersing the crowd that had gathered to cheer for her.
Appalachia Resist, which lists a residential home shared by several individuals – including one of the arrested protesters – as its headquarters, was contacted by Media Trackers for comment but did not respond in time for publication.