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Austin Masters Services hit with restraining order over environmental, health risks

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has placed a temporary restraining order on the Austin Master Services facility in Martins Ferry.

On Tuesday, a release from Yost’s office said he took legal action against AMS, which provides waste management services and radiological services to the oil-field industry, for environmental violations stating: “This company’s negligence is threatening to put Ohio communities and our natural resources in jeopardy. We are acting quickly to try to prevent a big environmental mess.”

Yost said of chief concern is the plant’s proximity to the Ohio River (about 500 feet) and to a drinking water well field (1,000 feet) for the city of Martins Ferry. The waste currently onsite exceeds the facility’s storage capacity, and the risk of overflow poses a significant threat to the surrounding area and to public health.

The Ohio Division of Natural Resources inspected the facility on Feb. 7 and March 15. In the complaint, it accuses the company of improper storage of solid waste, liquid, and sludge, with the main concern the proximity of the plant to the Ohio River and the drinking water well field for the city.

RELATED: AG aims to stop Austin Master Services unlawful waste storage due to environmental risk

Concerned residents believe this site should have never been approved.

“The State of Ohio, we’re glad they’re doing something now,” Bev Reed, organizer with Concerned Ohio River Residents (CORR), said. “But, again, it should have never been permitted in the first place. Years ago, we were making noise about this trying to educate the community.”

Austin Master services has not responded to multiple inquiries from NEWS9.

Martins Ferry Mayor John Davies shared a statement saying, “We agree with ODNR lawsuit to shut the plant down. The waste far exceeds the permitted amounts allowed. We met with the property owner of the facility and the facility is currently locked down and secured. Our main concern at this time is to keep the waste contained and make sure it does not become a threat to our well fields. We are continuing to speak with state entities about the situation and seeking guidance from them on this issue.”

Reed wants accountability from the city and companies.

“It isn’t right,” Reed said. “Why aren’t the companies held accountable? Why don’t they have to clean up the mess? Now, there is a mess. It’s ultimately up to taxpayers to clean it up. The State of Ohio is going to have to come in and clean it up.”

The hearing on a preliminary injunction is April 3.

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