Upon announcing their natural gas frack water recycling project in March 2013, officials with GreenHunter Water hoped to be barging drilling waste from the former Seidler's Oil Service in Warwood southward along the Ohio River by the the end of last year.
However, roughly 16 months after the announcement, construction has not started at the North 28th Street site - nor have officials received required clearance for barging from the Coast Guard.
"I still have not heard anything else from them," Tom Connelly, assistant director of the Wheeling Economic and Community Development Department, said of GreenHunter earlier this month. "I am not sure what they are up to or how they intend to proceed."
File Photo by Casey Junkins
GreenHunter Water Vice President of Business Development John Jack and Assistant Vice President for Investor Communications Melissa Pagen showcase the company’s property in the Warwood section of Wheeling in June 2013.
However, GreenHunter Water Vice President of Business Development John Jack said the company - which already has a functioning recycling facility along Ohio 7 in New Matamoras - has not abandoned any Wheeling plans.
"Although our timeline has been adjusted, GreenHunter remains enthusiastic about transitioning the Wheeling facility from the current dilapidated eyesore, into a thriving beacon of progress for a region that has been in need of a resurrection ... restoring it to the thriving place that it once was," he said.
After protests and debates last year, the Wheeling Planning Commission approved Phase 1 of GreenHunter's plan to transform the former Seidler's Oil Service into a facility that will accept and recycle water used in local fracking operations. Site plans show the company wants to construct 23 separate 1,000-barrel tanks on the 2.35-acre site, some of which will hold clean rainwater, while others will hold reusable frack water, drilling waste fluid, and flowback water.
The commission's approval of Phase 1 would not allow GreenHunter to use the barging terminals, as officials agree the company would need to seek further permission from the commission to do this.
During an informal meeting with Wheeling and Ohio County leaders, Jack said the company would need to wait until receiving barging permission from the Coast Guard to begin construction in Warwood. Coast Guard spokesman Carlos Diaz said there is no timeline for a decision because the agency is reviewing thousands of comments.
"As we continue to work hand-in-hand with the U.S. Coast Guard to design procedures that ensure health, safety, and the environment, we internally have some exciting projects that barging operations will support and therefore must receive our current focus for development," Jack said regarding the company's Wheeling construction delays.
Connelly maintains that GreenHunter's proposed barging area between the Ohio River and the Wheeling Heritage Trail is zoned for residential use, so no industrial activity can take place there. Jack disputes that GreenHunter cannot use the barging area because he said the company has utility easement that allows it to pump material from the main site to the barging area. According to the company's deed, GreenHunter has a right of way to "run certain pipelines, wirelines and cable crossings beneath the old railroad ..."
If GreenHunter proceeds, Jack said the company would test the pipe leading to the barging area to determine if it could be used, but would simply replace it if needed. Jack said approximately 30 trucks, each carrying about 100 barrels of brine water from local fracking operations, will arrive at the site each day once it is up and running.