GreenHunter Gets Coast Guard’s OK

Significant step forward for recycling facility

Wheeling Intelligencer
4 February 2015
By Casey Junkins

WHEELING - With the Coast Guard roadblock removed, GreenHunter Water officials can now ship Marcellus and Utica shale frack waste on Ohio River vessels - provided they can find a port to place the material on their barges.

Nearly two years after paying $750,000 to acquire the former Seidler's Oil Service site at North 28th Street in the Warwood section of Wheeling, GreenHunter officials are optimistic they will now be able to make the frack water recycling center a reality at a cost of $1.5 million to $3 million.

"The U.S. Coast Guard approval is a significant win for both GreenHunter Resources and our valued clients," said Kirk Trosclair, chief operating officer for GreenHunter Resources, parent firm of GreenHunter Water. "Our ability to transport disposal volumes via barge will significantly reduce our costs, improve our margins and allow us to pass along savings to our clients."

The Wheeling Planning Commission approved "Phase 1" of GreenHunter's plan to build the frack water recycling plant in Warwood. Site plans at the time showed the company planned to build 23 separate 1,000-barrel tanks on the 2.35-acre site, some of which would hold clean rainwater, while others would contain reusable frack water, drilling waste fluid, or flowback water.

However, the planning commission did not approve "Phase 2" of the project, which would allow GreenHunter to load Ohio River barges with fracking waste at Warwood so the material could be shipped southward for disposal in deep injection wells in the Marietta, Ohio area.

"Without the barging, this facility does not make any sense," GreenHunter Water Vice President of Business Development John Jack said during a January 2014 meeting with city and county leaders. "I won't start this facility until I get approval by the U.S. Coast Guard."

Jack did not immediately return calls seeking comment Tuesday. However, Trosclair emphasized the growing need for such a facility that would reduce the amount of truck traffic on roadways across the Marcellus and Utica shale fields. He said that for every 10,000 barrels of frack waste transported by barge, the company would be able to reduce the time trucks spend hauling the material by 600 hours.

"Demand for services at GreenHunter Resources remains strong," Trosclair said. "While the increase in demand for services is an important component of our success, the improvement of increasing efficiencies at GreenHunter Resources is equally important."

GreenHunter's new dilemma may be finding a barging terminal local leaders will allow the company to use. Wheeling leaders maintain the firm does not have permission to use the barging infrastructure at Warwood because they said the area alongside the Wheeling Heritage Trail is zoned for "residential" use.

"I have not heard from them since that meeting last year," Tom Connelly, assistant director of the Wheeling Economic and Community Development Department, said Tuesday of the January 2014 session. "They may be contacting us now to see what their next steps are."

Connelly said the shoreline area in which the barging area is located is not even owned by GreenHunter, in addition to being zoned for residential use.

"They would have to somehow get that property zoned industrial. Maybe they will pursue it now," Connelly added.

However, Jack has disputed that GreenHunter cannot use the barging area, as 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 ..." Connelly, however, maintains this easement is long expired.

If GreenHunter proceeds at Wheeling, 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, would arrive at the site each day if it is ever up and running.