Recycling Plant Hits Bump In The Road

WHEELING – GreenHunter Water has clearance from city officials and state environmental regulators to proceed with its natural gas frack water recycling project, but the West Virginia Division of Highways rejected the company’s road permit.

Without a road permit, tanker trucks carrying frack water and chemicals would not be allowed to enter and exit the plant at W.Va. 2’s junction with North 28th Street in the Warwood section of Wheeling.

“If they operated without a permit, we could certainly fine them,” said Brent Walker, spokesman for the West Virginia Department of Transportation, which oversees the DOH. “We rejected the permit in August and have not heard back from them since.”

Shortly before this rejection by the DOH, members of the Wheeling Planning Commission agreed to allow GreenHunter’s project to proceed on the condition that the company met all requirements from state and federal authorities. Most of the public concerns surrounding the plant involve the chemicals and waste that will be stored on site – and potentially barged down the Ohio River – but GreenHunter seems to have satisfied city, state and federal regulators regarding this waste.

In July, former West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman Kathy Cosco said until the plant is up and running, her agency probably would not have any involvement with the GreenHunter project.

“As long as they are not drilling – and are not going to discharge anything into the air or into the water – they don’t need any permit from us,” she said in July. “Companies come up with new technologies all the time. Until the plant is running, we don’t know what they are going to be doing.”

DEP spokesman Thomas Aluise has referred further questions regarding GreenHunter to Scott Mandirola, director of the Division of Water and Waste Management. He has been unavailable for comment.

“The DEP does not come in until it is developed,” said Tom Connelly, assistant director of the Wheeling Economic and Community Development Department.

However, the DOH may end up being the regulatory agency standing in GreenHunter’s way. Walker said the main issue seems to be that large trucks attempting to exit the plant would have a difficult time seeing traffic coming from the north. The existing surface of North 28th Street is steep and bumpy. This could also offer an obstacle for the 30 or so large trucks entering the site daily, each of which would carry about 100 barrels of brine from local fracking operations.

“The site distance seems to be a real problem there. It would be hard for them to see coming out onto (W.Va. 2),” Walker said.

GreenHunter officials could not be reached for comment.