Warwood Residents Keep Up Opposition to Frack Water Plant

WHEELING – Relentless in their efforts to keep frack water from being recycled in Warwood, neighborhood residents on Tuesday handed Wheeling City Council a petition bearing the signatures of more than 200 people who feel the same way.

For the fourth time in as many council meetings, concerned residents packed the room to urge their elected officials to stop a proposed treatment plant for natural gas drilling waste from locating on the former Seidler’s Oil Service property on North 28th Street. Houston, Texas-based GreenHunter Water is planning $1.7 million of construction at the site, which will result in 798,000 gallons of storage capacity.

After hearing more opposition Tuesday, Wheeling officials reminded residents that the property on which GreenHunter Water plans to build already is zoned industrial, and the city’s options are limited as long as the company plays by the rules.

City Manager Herron noted the company plans to seek two variances from the Board of Zoning Appeals and also will need to present its site plan for review by the city Planning Commission. It also must secure a building permit.

Meanwhile, Councilwoman Gloria Delbrugge – herself an outspoken opponent of the plant – said GreenHunter Water officials have agreed to hold a community meeting concerning their plans, set for 7 p.m. May 22 in council chambers at the City-County Building.

John Jack, GreenHunter Water’s vice president of business development, has said a 40-foot-wide easement that crosses the trail gives the company the right to use the pipeline that runs underneath it to load treated water onto barges for transport, despite that strip of land being zoned residential. Herron isn’t so sure that’s the case, however.

“It has been our position … that they would need a zone change,” he said, acknowledging GreenHunter Water could simply truck the water away from its facility without running afoul of the zoning code.

The company could be forced to do that regardless of the zoning issue, as the U.S. Coast Guard continues to review whether fracking waste can be shipped on inland waterways.

GreenHunter Water contends there is less chance of an accident on the Ohio River compared to roadways and barge transport will mean less wear and tear on those roads.

Company officials also say the fluid they’ll be shipping poses far less of a threat to the drinking water supply than other materials such as petroleum, hydrochloric acid and coal that are shipped on inland waterways every day.

Warwood residents are concerned about the potential for spills just slightly more than a mile north of Wheeling’s water treatment plant and fear negative health effects if the plant becomes a reality.

GreenHunter Water officials say their process is safe and their provisions to control any potential spills meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency specifications. After treating the frack water, GreenHunter Water plans to ship brine water – the vast majority of its volume, company officials say – by truck back to well sites for re-use. Solid waste would go to a landfill outside Parkersburg, W.Va., with liquid waste taken by barge for disposal at one of several deep injection wells.