Defining Waste Crux Of Dispute

GreenHunter claims it’s oil field waste, but Coast Guard hesitant

Wheeling Intelligencer
6 February 2015
By John McCabe Managing Editor

WHEELING - The debate between GreenHunter Water and the Coast Guard over shipping fracking wastewater along the Ohio River appears to come down to just how the waste is classified.

GreenHunter Water, a publicly traded company, on Thursday filed a regulatory statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission indicating the company classifies its fracking waste as "oil field waste," not "shale gas extraction wastewater." This distinction, the company asserts, will allow it to barge drilling waste on the Ohio River under a Coast Guard regulation from 1987.

The company informed its investors during an earnings conference call last week that it had received approval to ship the waste.

Coast Guard officials on Wednesday said it they are still deciding whether to allow the barging of "shale gas extraction wastewater," but did not address whether the waste could be considered oil field waste.

"We are committed to ensuring proper research with regards to shale gas extraction wastewater maritime transportation before approving any request to transport shale gas extraction wastewater," Chief Warrant Officer Chad Saylor said.

Lt. Commander Joe Klinker on Thursday reiterated that statement, adding there was no update following GreenHunter's filing.

Coast Guard officials did not immediately respond later Thursday to a request for additional comment on GreenHunter's assertion that it would be shipping oil field waste instead of shale gas extraction wastewater.

In its regulatory filing, GreenHunter made the following statement:

"In response to the U.S. Coast Guard recently making statements to certain media outlets that it has not given the company clearance to ship wastewater by barge along the Ohio River, the company states that on Oct. 2, 2014, the company received a letter from Mr. R.V. Timme, captain in the U.S. Coast Guard, providing specifically that for any cargo that contains oil field waste, the cargo must be transported in accordance with Navigation and Inspection Circular 7-87. One of the definitions of oil field waste contained in NCIV 7-87 is "salt water (produced brine or produced water). May contain oil.

"Any and all cargo to be transported by the company on the Ohio River will be cargo classified as 'oil field waste' as defined by NCIV 7-87 and other applicable regulations and not as 'shale gas extraction wastewater.' Oil field waste is what the company handles on a daily basis in regards to transportation and disposal at its various SWD facilities."

The NCIV 7-87 was issued on Oct. 13, 1987, titled "Guidance on Waterborne Transport of Oil Field Wastes." A message left Thursday for Capt. Timme at the Coast Guard's Louisville office was not immediately returned.

GreenHunter has maintained Coast Guard approval is the roadblock preventing the company from further pursuing their planned porting area in the Warwood section of Wheeling.