More Air Pollution From Chesapeake Drilling Sites
23 July 2012
By Casey Junkins, Staff Writer
TRIADELPHIA - Sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide and formaldehyde are
some of the chemicals Chesapeake Energy is likely to pump into the
air in Ohio County from its numerous drilling sites, company
Earlier this year, Chesapeake officials confirmed plans to build
local compressor stations that may release these and other
chemicals into the atmosphere. Now, the company is identifying
"potential to emit" levels for several potentially hazardous
materials from its well drilling sites.
"The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has
primacy to regulate air emissions from all industries, including
oil and gas operations, to protect public health and the
environment. Chesapeake works with the agency on a regular basis
to comply with, and usually exceed, the requirements," said Stacey
Brodak, Chesapeake's senior director of corporate development.
Photo by Casey Junkins
Chesapeake Energy is again drilling at the Minch pad in Ohio
County, where the company plans to extract natural gas from
beneath Oglebay Park. The company plans to frack under the park
before the end of this year.
In four separate legal advertisements, Chesapeake is seeking
permits from the West Virginia DEP's Division of Air Quality to
release several pollutants from four of its Ohio County well
sites. The notices state that the DEP intends to issue the
permits, but is providing public notice to allow for comments and
The well sites are situated in the areas of:
"It is vitally important to understand that the emissions listed
in the legal notice are representative of a conservative potential
to emit level typical of the air permitting process and not
necessarily indicative of the actual annual emissions of the
site," Brodak said. "Emissions levels vary depending on several
factors including gas composition, well head pressure, volume of
condensate and the production equipment."
The amounts of the particulates that may be released at the four
sites slightly vary. The carbon monoxide projections, for example,
range from 40 tons per year to 61.5 tons per year to be released
from a single site.
The potential to emit levels for sulfur dioxide and formaldehyde
are substantially less than those for carbon monoxide.
Chesapeake is also now awaiting a DEP permit to drill on property
owned by the Park System Trust Fund of Wheeling, roughly 1,300
feet from Wheeling Park High School. So far, at least 20 people
have sent objections to the DEP regarding the well site, as have
the Ohio County Board of Education, the Ohio County Commission and
the city of Wheeling.
MAKE A COMMENT
Those wishing to comment on four Chesapeake Energy air quality
permits for Ohio County natural gas drilling sites have until 5
p.m. Aug. 15 to submit them to: Roy Kees, P.E.; West Virginia
Department of Environmental Protection; Division of Air Quality;
601 57th St., SE; Charleston, WV 25304.
So far, Chesapeake officials have only said that they have engaged
with the parties affected by the drilling site, including the Ohio
County Board of Education members and superintendent's office.
They also emphasize the well site will be more than twice the
625-foot legal limit away from an "occupied dwelling," as defined
by state law.
In addition to the pollution from the well sites, Chesapeake also
will release emissions from its local compressor stations. One of
these is just off the Interstate 70 Dallas Pike exit near The
Highlands, while another is in the Sand Hill area near the
Marshall/Ohio County border.
Chesapeake, in a legal advertisement earlier this year, confirmed
the "potential to discharge" the following amounts of these
materials on an annual basis from the operations at the compressor
stations: carbon dioxide - 93,800 tons; nitrogen oxides - 82.96
tons; carbon monoxide - 16.87 tons; methane - 86.64; carbon
dioxide equivalent - 95,667 tons; benzene - 0.33 tons; and
formaldehyde - 3.22 tons.