Radiation Concerns Coast Guard
Hazardous materials cited in fight over GreenHunter water
7 February 2015
By Casey Junkins, Staff Writer
WHEELING - The Coast Guard's lead chemical engineer said
radioactivity found in drilling or fracking waste from the
Marcellus shale formation would disqualify it from being barged on
the Ohio River as so-called oilfield waste, as GreenHunter
Resources is hoping to do.
However, GreenHunter Chief Operating Officer Kirk Trosclair said
Friday his company still believes it has the authority to
transport the wastewater via river vessels, adding that he does
not believe there is any proof the material his firm will ship has
elevated levels of radium.
Cynthia Znati, lead chemical engineer for the Coast Guard's
hazardous materials division, said the presence of radioactivity
is the primary difference between "shale gas extraction
wastewater" and the more traditional "oilfield waste."
"The Marcellus shale is known to have elevated levels of naturally
occurring radioactive materials, particularly radium," Znati said.
"From our perspective, that is the main hazard."
In a company statement dated Jan. 26, Trosclair said the Coast
Guard recently gave the company permission to transport frack
waste on Ohio River barges. GreenHunter officials have maintained
this is the roadblock preventing them from further pursuing their
planned porting area in the Warwood section of Wheeling.
"The U.S. Coast Guard approval is a significant win for both
GreenHunter Resources and our valued clients," he stated.
In a Thursday regulatory filing, GreenHunter cited a letter it
received from Coast Guard Capt. Richard Timme, who is based in
Louisville, Ky., as the company's greenlight to begin shipping
fracking wastewater under Navigation and Inspection Circular 7-87,
which regulates the shipping of "oilfield waste" on the nation's
waterways. Timme, though, said all his office did was provide
information the company requested, and in no way did that
correspondence grant any authority to GreenHunter for its shipping
"Shale gas extraction wastewater remains at the agency level for
discussion and future action," Timme said Friday.
For GreenHunter to ship waste under the provisions set forth in
NCIV 7-87, Timme said the company would have to go through an
application process that would include an evaluation of exactly
what cargo would be shipped. Znati said GreenHunter would be
permitted to barge this "oilfield waste" - if the company passed
the test to prove the material is not radioactive.
"GreenHunter Water will continue to transport 'oilfield waste'
until such time as the Coast Guard ultimately decides on the
proper definition of 'shale gas extraction waste water' and the
rules under which such waste water can be transported. Once these
rules are finalized, GreenHunter will comply with these rules and
regulations," Trosclair said Friday.
Znati said as long as radium remains in a tank, it is not
hazardous, and the most dangerous exposure would probably come
Znati said the Coast Guard continues reviewing the 70,000 comments
officials received regarding the barging of "shale gas extraction
wastewater" and has no timeline for a decision.