WHEELING - From fires and spills to traffic and water issues, the potential problems associated with natural gas drilling and fracking concern some people.
And with the upswing in activity throughout the area, West Virginia's Northern Panhandle residents may wonder who they should call to voice their concerns.
The Wetzel County Action Group - whose members have experienced drilling activity firsthand for more than four years - has assembled a list of contacts for those concerned with road damage, water and air quality, overweight trucks or other possible hazards.
Photo by Casey Junkins
Natural gas drillers are using water from sites like this one along National Road between Triadelphia and Valley Grove to draw water from Wheeling Creek for transport to drilling sites for fracking. This procedure is regulated by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.
"This list consists of two years' worth of accumulated information," said action group member Bill Hughes.
Some drillers' activities, such as withdrawing certain amounts of water from creeks, are totally permissible and regulated by agencies such as the West Virginia Environmental Protection Agency. Other actions, however, may not be allowed, and accidents are always possible.
As a result, the action group encourages other local residents to use the information it has gathered to contact the appropriate person or agency for answers to their questions or to report a potential emergency.
GAS DRILLING CONTACTS
- To report dumping and other illegal or suspicious hauling and/or disposal activities, call the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's natural gas drilling tip line at 877-919-4372.
- For general gas well problems, call the West Virginia DEP's Office of Oil and Gas. Call 304-926-0499, ext. 1654 for Chief James Martin. Call 304-926-0499, ext. 1647 or 304-389-7590 for Inspector Dave Belcher; and 304-206-7750 for Inspector Bill Hendershot.
- For water problems, call Scott Mandirola at the DEP's Division of Water and Waste Management at 304-926-0495.
- Regarding possible air pollution, call Jamie Jarrett in the DEP's Division of Air Quality at 304-926-0499, ext. 41207; or Eric Weisenborn in the Wheeling office at 304-238-1220.
- For general environmental assistance, call Pam Nixon
in the Environmental Advocate's Office at 304-926-0440, ext. 1328.
- In the event of an emergency spill, call the DEP's 24-hour line at 800-642-3074.
- For gas spills on roadways, call Robert Closterman in the West Virginia Division of Highways Moundsville office at 304-843-6398. For roadway damage, call Gus Suwaid at 304-843-4048. For District Six Engineer Dan Sikora, call 304-843-4008.
- For information on traffic delays, call the Wheeling Tunnel Division of Highways office at 304-238-1060.
- Regarding overweight trucks, call the Public Service Commission of West Virginia's enforcement division at 304-340-0817.
- Regarding traffic accidents, road safety and other concerns, call the local sheriff's department: Ohio County, 304-234-3673; Marshall County, 304-843-1500; Brooke County, 304-737-3660; Wetzel County, 304-455-2430; Hancock County, 304-564-4068; and Tyler County, 304-758-4551.
"The biggest stumbling block for us was that, at first, we had no idea who to contact about all of this stuff," Hughes continued. "We want to let people know who they should contact when they have a problem."