GreenHunter Meets Requirements

WHEELING – For GreenHunter Water, it appears the third time could be the charm.

After several months of public back-and-forth between company officials and Wheeling Planning commissioners, including two previous public meetings where the matter had been tabled, GreenHunter Water believes it has finally complied with the requirements established by the Wheeling Planning Commission for its site plan to be approved.

The company is seeking to recycle hydraulic fracturing wastewater at a plant off W.Va. 2 in Warwood. Having the site plan approved would allow the company to proceed with its plans to open the facility.

Commissioners get the final say on the project during the 5 p.m. Monday meeting inside Wheeling City Council Chambers. During both the July and June meetings, commissioners declined to consider GreenHunter’s application because they required additional information from the company.

“We have our ducks all in a row,” Jonathan Hoopes, interim chief executive officer and president of GreenHunter, said.

In July, planning Commissioners Barry Crow, James Mauck, John Clarke, Thomas McCulloch, Don Atkinson and Russell Jebbia voted 6-0 to table GreenHunter’s site plan, noting the company had not provided adequate information.

In requesting additional information from GreenHunter, commissioners required the following:

  • documentation from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and the West Virginia Department of Transportation showing that GreenHunter’s project meets their guidelines;
  • documentation from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and/or the Nuclear Regulatory Commission showing that GreenHunter’s project will not emit excessive amounts of radiation, as frack waste can contain low levels of radium, uranium and radon;
  • a site plan that removes the labels “Phase 2” or “barging” from it because GreenHunter still does not have permission from the U.S. Coast Guard to barge frack waste;
  • a detailed lighting plan.

“We have submitted everything that the city of Wheeling has requested. We are hopeful that we will receive a positive response from the Planning Commission Monday,” said John Jack, vice president of business development and operations for GreenHunter.

Tom Connelly, assistant director of the Wheeling Economic and Community Development Department, agreed the company appears to have met the requirements. He said he has received letters from the Department of Transportation, as well as the Division of Air Quality and the Division of Water and Waste Management, which are both divisions of the Department of Environmental Protection.

“We also received a letter from GreenHunter’s attorney stating that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission does not oversee the operations,” Connelly said.

Connelly also said GreenHunter submitted a revised site plan that no longer mentions “Phase 2” or “barging.”

“We were also concerned about the lighting issues, but they seem to have addressed that,” Connelly added, though noting the commission still gets the final vote.

The “Phase 2” represents GreenHunter’s desire to eventually transport its fracking waste by barge. Several federal agencies, including the U.S. Coast Guard, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Transportation, Department of Energy and the Office of Management and Budget, continue to review whether fracking waste can be shipped on inland waterways via barge. Jack contends there is less chance of an accident on the Ohio River compared to roadways.

DEP spokeswoman Kathy Cosco has said until the plant is operational, her agency probably would not have any involvement. Since the company is not seeking to drill or discharge from the Warwood site, she is not sure the agency will be involved with the project at all.

Jack said the he believes the DEP will do a “walk-through” inspection once the plant is completed.

Though radium, uranium and radon are considered radioactive, Jack has said these elements will be minuscule in volume at the Warwood plant. He also said the company’s workers will wear radiation detectors while on the job.