In May 2011, an Ohio County School bus carrying three students home needed evasive action to avoid a large natural gas industry truck that went left of center on Dallas Pike Road.
Amid recent complaints of fracking and other industry related trucks moving dangerously along narrow roadways, Chesapeake Energy - the only driller with active operations in Ohio County - is looking to make sure that drivers working on the company's behalf follow strict safety standards.
"We have heard from some area residents, and we encourage any resident who does have a concern about our operations to contact us," said Chesapeake spokeswoman Jacque Bland, providing the number, 855-245-7366, for complaints about truck traffic.
Photo by Casey Junkins
Residents along Stone Church Road in Ohio County have expressed some concern about drivers carelessly operating natural gas industry trucks — even during times when school buses are running.
"All of our operating procedures are constantly being reviewed and evaluated for possible improvements," she added.
To prevent potential hazards involving school buses, Chesapeake and school officials agreed on a policy that is designed to keep trucks off the roads during times of school bus travel. On Stone Church Road, the hours for this policy are clearly posted as 6-9 a.m. and 2:50-5:45 p.m.
Gabe Wells, spokesman for Ohio County Schools, said he believes Chesapeake is following the terms of the agreement - and has not heard of any recent incidents.
However, some of the oilfield services subcontractors - who may be performing well drilling, fracking, construction, or other work on behalf of companies like Chesapeake, Consol Energy, Chevron and Stone Energy - may be presenting problems.
Information from an organization called "Concerned Citizens of Rural Ohio County" states, "I feel like every morning when I put my daughter on the bus, I am risking her life."
"We're all scared to death because there are just so many of these menacing trucks. They're everywhere - they pay no attention to speed limits, and they're left-of-center on every single curve," the information continues.
However, Bland said her company is working hard to prevent any such issues.
"Our curfews related to school bus avoidance still are in effect. Our internal enforcement teams patrol the area to ensure compliance among employees and vendors," she said. "Pilots and escorts are used and will continue to be used on designated routes, as safety will always be our top priority."
These are not the first complaints regarding truck traffic involving the Upper Ohio Valley's natural gas rush.
Testifying before a U.S. Senate committee earlier this year, Marshall County Sheriff John Gruzinskas said some subcontractors working for Marcellus Shale natural gas companies are "disrespectful" to his residents.