BARNESVILLE- Village officials in Barnesville on Monday set the record straight regarding a proposed plan to allow the East Ohio Regional Industial Park on Ohio 800 to accept gas drilling waste products.
Barnesville Village Council hosted a town meeting Monday night regarding the project which has been approved by the Belmont County Port Authority Board of Trustees, which oversees the park.
However, public opposition built when residents thought fracking waste would be dumped there. Council called the meeting to present facts about the project and dispel misinformation and rumors circulating on social media.
A company from Columbus, EnerGreen360 has developed a technique to clean and solidify top hole drill cuttings from gas wells. There is no fracking waste involved; the material is the "dirt" from the drilling process, which may have trace amounts of refined oil-based substances (ROBS) only from the drill bit.
Rob Smith, president of EnerGreen360, gave an overview of their status. The company attended at least three Port Authority board meetings to present the plans and process. EnerGreen360 will be taking the "top hole" cuttings which include naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM.) In many cases the material is deposited back onto the drill site, but it is also used to build roads and construct drill pads. EnerGreen360 would be cleaning the material and treating it with Portland cement to level areas in the park for buildings.
Their Ohio Department of Natural Resources permit has been approved, and they are, according to Smith, about two weeks from submitting their Ohio EPA permit application. EnerGreen360 hired a company to continue testing soil and ponds at the park, and they are in progress. The storm water management plan submitted to the OEPA was approved last week.
The lease agreement with the Port Authority, which was approved by the board but not signed, takes additional precautions for monitoring radiation levels by implementing testing by both EnerGreen360 and the Port Authority at EnerGreen360's expense. Smith added that current regulations allow EnerGreen360 to use the drill cuttings without treating them, but the company is going "above and beyond."
During a question and answer session, one Barnesville resident asked Smith about where the processed drill cuttings are used. Smith responded that a company called Clean Earth has been using material which is not treated as thoroughly for projects in Pennsylvania. Butler noted that the OEPA granted an application for a similar project in Columbus, and they took one year to review the proposal and application.
He said that there is no guarantee that
EnerGreen360's proposal would be granted because each application is
studied and evaluated based on its own process and reuse.
"It's good to see citizens come out and want to learn more about
this," Butler added. "We don't want people put at higher risk."
Barnesville councilman Scott Gallagher noted that they have been
trying to keep "a green belt" around the town to preserve water
sources, and, based on what he heard at the meeting, he is against
The Belmont County Commissioners also weighed in after the
presentations. Commissioner Matt Coffland said that a single
controversial project like this "is not worth upsetting residents."
Commissioner Ginny Favede noted that she asks herself what is best
for the community, adding that a project like this may not enhance
the industrial park for future tenants.
Commissioner Mark Thomas said, "The message we need to take away
tonight is that the board needs to look at all the information and
revisit the issue. We're all here as your representatives."