Frack Water Plant Cheered

Do not expect Lee Landon to be among those protesting GreenHunter Water’s planned natural gas frack water recycling plant at 2 p.m. Sunday at Warwood Garden Park.

“These are good people who are going to do a good thing,” said Landon, a resident of the Warwood section of Wheeling. “I think once people get to know GreenHunter, they will have a better view of them.”

For about two months, Landon said he has heard people complaining about GreenHunter’s plans, which prompted him to call company officials about the project they want to build at the former Seidler’s Oil Service site on North 28th Street. After the conversation, he became a “strong supporter” of the project, which GreenHunter hopes to have completed and operating near the Wheeling Heritage Trail by September.

Landon may find himself in the minority, however. During the past two Wheeling City Council meetings, several Warwood residents have expressed concerns for the community’s water supply, as well as the number of trucks that will be traveling in and out of the site.

Jonathan D. Hoopes, president and chief operating officer for GreenHunter, said the major benefit to the Upper Ohio Valley will be the reduction in truck traffic because of his planned project.

“There is a lot of production water and flowback water coming into Ohio and West Virginia. All of this water comes in by trucks, which, of course, are loud and big,” said Hoopes.

“What we are trying to do at GreenHunter is to put this water on barges. We are going to bring the product to the facility, recycle it, and take back out to the field. If we cannot reuse it, it could end up going out on barge,” he added, noting the U.S. Coast Guard still has not decided whether to allow frack water to be shipped on river barges.

Hoopes said plans call for turning the existing 11,000-square-foot building at North 28th Street into the water recycling station, while building up to 19,000 barrels of water tank storage. The project would create about 15 construction jobs, while 12 permanent jobs will be created once the plant is open. A docking facility currently exists at the western end of the property, which he said the company plans to utilize to ship fracking waste, via barge, from Wheeling to disposal sites such as the one in New Matamoras, Ohio.

He compared the idea of placing frack wastewater on barges to coal being transported on barges, noting,”What would all of your residents think if all that coal on barges was being moved by truck?”

Hoopes also said Upper Ohio Valley residents need to realize the level of Marcellus and Utica shale drilling is going to increase in coming years.

“As the Utica heats up, there is going to be a lot Utica water produced. Barging is a lower cost, lower impact, way to eliminate the wastewater,” he said. “This water is going to go somewhere, so the best way to get rid of it is to put it on barges.”