Monitor Plant Radioactivity

Controversy over a company’s plan to handle wastewater from gas and oil wells at a facility in Warwood appears to be over in a way, but just beginning in another.

Earlier this year, GreenHunter Water announced it would use a site on North 28th Street in Warwood for the plant. It will take in wastewater from well “fracking,” eventually recycling it.

Many local residents object to the plan. But on Monday, the Wheeling Planning Commission voted 4-1 to allow GreenHunter to proceed. The firm has obtained documents from state and federal regulatory agencies indicating the plant should meet their requirements.

That does not satisfy some opponents, however. They worry water being handled at the GreenHunter facility will be radioactive enough to be hazardous to those around the plant.

Virtually everything in nature is radioactive to some extent, of course. A GreenHunter representative has said wastewater from wells does contain some radium, uranium and radon, but at miniscule levels.

John Jack, vice president of business development and operations for GreenHunter, also has noted workers at the plant will wear radiation detectors. Among agencies signing off on the plan has been the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Again, it appears the plant will go into operation, perhaps by October. Given the documentation from various state and federal agencies, Planning Commission members had little choice but to allow GreenHunter to proceed.

That should not be the end of government’s involvement, however.

Concern over radioactive emissions from the plant is very real among a substantial number of local residents. That should be taken as a cue by government, perhaps the Nuclear Regulatory

Commission, to set up some sort of monitoring system at the Warwood facility. Gauges measuring and recording radiation levels just outside the plant’s perimeter would be a good idea, at least during the initial period of operation.

That would make people living near the plant more comfortable with a facility that, rightly or wrongly, worries some of them. Addressing those fears would be an appropriate reaction by government.