A group of citizens concerned with the development of a GreenHunter water treatment plant in Wheeling shared their thoughts with the Wheeling-Ohio County Board of Health on Tuesday.
Individuals expressed their concern regarding the environmental, community and health impacts of drilling and fracking. They included Patricia Jacobson of FaCT-OV/Wheeling Water Warriors, who introduced the group's goals and offered the board binders of relevant information. Ben Stout, a professor at Wheeling Jesuit University, then spoke of the dangers of frackwater disposal.
Stout referenced his own study, titled "Wheeling, West Virginia Experience With Frackwater: What 'Brinewater' and 'Residual Waste' Trucks Are Really Carrying," to describe how such water can contain hazardous waste and toxic substances. Stout emphasized that Wheeling water quality should be a primary concern. He proposed that local ordinances are part of the solution to preserve the community from dangerous fracking impacts.
Photo by Rebecca Olsavsky
The Wheeling-Ohio County Board of Health listened to comments Tuesday.
In conjunction with Stout's presentation, Jill Kriesky, the associate director of the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project, said that her office "has the same concerns." Kriesky focused on the importance of studying air and water impacts as affected by shale gas drilling. She also noted the emotional, or "stress," impacts that such community changes can create.
Robin Mahonen of the Wheeling Water Warriors recognized the issue involving storage of frackwater in the community. Mahonen said that barging as a solution will not work due to the number of barging accidents within the last two years.
Mark Eddy, an Ohio County resident, also contributed to the message by describing how fracking has impacted him personally.
"Fracking should be banned," Eddy claimed. "It is a really bad idea."
After noting that he shares concerns for the potential damages of fracking, board chairman, Dr. John Holloway, responded to the group's comments by noting that the issue is complicated and the board's resources are limited.
"We can't make an emotional response,"Holloway explained. "We must hear from the other side."
Holloway also encouraged the group to continue their efforts.
"Don't lose your passion," he said. "Don't give up the fight."