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Proposed Recycled Frack Water Operation Drawing Concerns

WHEELING – Ohio County Commissioners said they will set up a meeting with Southwestern Energy to discuss concerns expressed about a planned frack water recycling pad planned for Clearview.

County Board of Health member Dr. Matthew Wood and property owners Howard Karnell addressed commissioners during a teleconference meeting Tuesday night.

Wood told commissioners the proposed pad is to be constructed near Karnell’s home along Highland Road.

As part of Southwestern Energy recycling program, they reuse well water from pads they frac and they plan to store the water in towers at the site, according to Karnell. From there, it would be piped to a nearby pad and mixed with fresh water to frac other wells.

“From a public health standpoint, I do not see where this is appropriate for an industrial entity to be parked directly beside his residence,” Wood said. “There are various health related issues (possible). I think we all know that living beside something like this that more than likely will be in operation for several years poses health issues to Mr. Karnell and his family, and even more likely to his neighbors and individuals driving on that road.”

Wood asked for direction from the commission.

Commission President Tim McCormick said the board hadn’t been aware of the plans for the plant, and now Southwestern is planning to send representatives to Ohio County to discuss their ideas. McCormick said he was told it was to be a temporary set up for just “two to three months.”

Karnell, however, said he has spoken with representatives of the property’s owner, Tunnel Ridge, who told him they plan to lease the land to Southwestern Energy on a yearly basis. This led him to believe this was going to be an ongoing situation.

“If they do it for 10, one-year terms, I don’t consider that temporary,” he said.

The meeting with Southwestern is expected to take place next week, McCormick said.

In other matters, commissioners previously gave the Wheeling Symphony $2,500 in hotel/motel tax revenue to put toward its annual July 4 concert and fireworks event — which was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Organizers asked the commissioners if that money now can be used for the event, which now is set for Sept. 6 at Oglebay Park. Commissioners granted the request.

Commissioners also give the West Virginia Super Six High School Football Championship $25,000 each year for festivities, and this year’s request was approved Tuesday night.

If the tournament were to not happen this year, the committee can keep the money and use it next year, McCormick said.

The commissioners are scheduled to next meet at 6 p.m. on Aug. 11 by teleconference. Call in information can be obtained by calling the commission office at 304-234-3750.

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