NEW MATAMORAS, Ohio - Living directly across the street from GreenHunter Water's natural gas frack water recycling plant, Dianne Longfellow said her porch gets a little dusty from the 30 or so trucks entering the New Matamoras site each day.
Other than that, Longfellow said GreenHunter has been a good neighbor, while visually improving the former gasoline storage facility that had fallen into disrepair.
"I have no complaints with them at all," Longfellow said while reviewing GreenHunter's site plans on file at the New Matamoras Branch of the Washington County Public Library. "There is some noise sometimes from the trucks, but it is nothing that makes it hard to sleep."
Photo by Casey Junkins
New Matamoras residents, from left, Debra Noland and Dianne Longfellow, review the site plans for GreenHunter Water’s local frack water recycling plant at the New Matamoras Branch of the Washington County Public Library.
Longfellow and fellow library employee Debra Noland, who lives a few houses down the street from Longfellow, seem puzzled as to why there seems to be so much opposition to GreenHunter's plans of building a site on North 28th Street in the Warwood section of Wheeling.
"So far, they have done exactly what they said they would do," Noland said of GreenHunter. "They have done a good job of keeping the public informed of their plans."
Living Near the Plant
Noland said the company held a few public meetings with local residents to address their concerns prior to opening the facility. GreenHunter has planned such a meeting for 7 p.m. Wednesday in Wheeling City Council Chambers on the first floor of the City-County Building, 1500 Chapline St.
Strong opposition to GreenHunter's Wheeling project persists, as a group of residents calling themselves the "Wheeling Water Warriors" view the plant as a negative. They recently held a protest in Warwood's Garden Park, emphasizing they do not want frack wastewater stored only about a mile north of the Wheeling Water Plant. These opponents maintain they are worried some of the material may leak into the city's water supply.
Longfellow and Noland have no such concerns about the company's New Matamoras facility.
''I have not seen or heard of any spills. They look very professional when they are working,'' Longfellow said. "I feel that if something did happen, they would be able to take care of it.''
''I know there are some concerns about what is being shoved down into the earth during the fracking, and what comes up out. But that is not GreenHunter's fault,'' Noland added, saying she believes the company is trying to prevent so much water from going into deep injection wells.
After treating the frack water on site, GreenHunter plans to ship brine water - the vast majority of its volume, according to Vice President of Business Development John Jack - by truck back to well sites for re-use. Solid waste would go to a landfill outside Parkersburg, with liquid waste taken by barge for disposal at one of several deep injection wells.
Several federal agencies, including the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. 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 river compared to roadways.
Though GreenHunter's recycling process removes the suspended solids from the frack water, Jack admits trace amounts of chemicals and salts will remain in the water. Though radium and uranium are considered radioactive, he said these elements will be minuscule in volume.
Longfellow and Noland do not have any concerns about GreenHunter's efforts to barge the frack waste. They also were surprised when about 100 protesters showed up in February to storm the GreenHunter New Matamoras site. Sheriff's deputies arrested 10 people during the incident, including one man who climbed to the top of one of the storage tanks.
''We are not sure what is in those tanks, but it is in the tanks and is not leaking out anywhere,'' Longfellow said.
Jeri Williams lives two houses up the street from GreenHunter's New Matamoras plant. She believes the company to be ''very responsible.''
"I don't see why people have a problem with this. What about all of the other plants up and down the (Ohio) River that have been pumping stuff into the river and the air for 50 years?'' she said.
''Even if you are against fracking, GreenHunter has nothing to do with fracking,'' Williams continued. ''All they are doing is trying to save some water and eliminate waste.''
Joy Grimes has called New Matamoras home since 1967. She feels ''proud'' about the site that had fallen on hard times now being used to recycle frack water.
''I think the waste that the plants pump into the river is a lot more dangerous than this,'' she said.
Though the 12 full-time work force GreenHunter plans to have on the Wheeling site may seem small, the New Matamoras residents have been glad to have all the jobs that have resulted from the project there.
"This is a very depressed area. Our people need a chance to work somewhere like this where they can get decent jobs," Williams said.
Longfellow and Noland also credit GreenHunter with bringing some work to a "desperate" area. Grimes emphasized that any jobs the community can acquire should be viewed as a "blessing."
"People should not complain when a community can get a few extra jobs," Grimes said. "And the workers and truck drivers stop into our stores, which helps out a small town like this."