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Joe Mosyjowski has watched a decade-long boom in oil and gas drilling unfold in the region surrounding his 50-acre farm in northeast Ohio. Mosyjowski, a 71-year-old retired engineer who once spent his days designing stormwater infrastructure, was surprised to learn that a byproduct of all that drilling was being spread on roads and streets near his property, which contains a football field-sized pond that he swims in every summer. Mosyjowski grew increasingly alarmed as he read that the product, a salty brine used to keep roads ice-free, can be radioactive. 

“I don’t want this stuff spread anywhere near the roadways,” Mosyjowski told Grist in a phone call from his home in Portage County, a rural area about an hour south of Cleveland. “I don’t want it near my water, because the water runs into my pond. I just want to keep things clean.” 

At least 13 states — including Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan — allow oil and gas wastewater to be put to “beneficial use,” a category that includes road de-icing, dust suppression, and maintenance. This is an advantageous arrangement for oil and gas companies, because it’s cheaper to give brine t... Read more

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