Officials Stand Behind Consol, Noble

Marshall County Commissioner Brian Schambach on Tuesday said two companies involved in the leaking of thousands of barrels of brine wastewater into Big Wheeling Creek have been good members of the community and should be given a chance to fix the mistake.

During a meeting of the commission, Schambach said Consol Energy and Noble Energy always have been quick to react when problems have occurred in the county. He referred to the recent discovery that brine wastewater, produced when Noble and its partner Consol drilled and fracked Marcellus Shale wells in Marshall County, had seeped into Big Wheeling Creek after leaking from a containment pond.

Officials with Noble Energy said the water leaked due to an open valve, which was later closed and sealed. Officials are investigating the exact cause and what can be done to prevent a similar incident in the future.

Schambach said while the incident is serious, Noble and Consol have operated in the county for several years and have a good working relationship with county officials.

“They have always done a great job with their urgency and following up on situations,” he said.

Schambach cited other drilling-related issues, including concerns over school bus safety and sharing roads with large trucks, as an example of Consol being responsive to concerns and addressing problems when presented with them.

“They have been good to work with, and this situation shouldn’t be any different,” Schambach said.

Also on Tuesday, commissioners reported on a recent County Commissioners Association meeting in Charleston. Commissioner Don Mason said a number of topics were discussed, including issues with routinely high regional jail bills. He said the yearly expense – more than $600,000 per year in Marshall County – has made the jail bill the No. 1 concern for most commissions.

“We are working with the Regional Jail Authority to figure out solutions,” Mason said, adding the root of the problem seems to be overcrowding caused by drug offenses. “We’ve got to find ways to deal with (drug offenders) instead of throwing them in jail.”

In visitors to commission, county resident Jim Thomas asked the commission to consider lowering the levy rate due to an increase in assessed value for the coming fiscal year. Mason said the commission has lowered the levy rate four times in the past five years.