Warwood Frack Water Plant on Ohio River

Wheeling Intelligencer
12 May 2013
By Casey Junkins

NEW MATAMORAS, OH – John Jack is confident that GreenHunter Water’s plans to store nearly 800,000 gallons of natural gas frack water in the Warwood section of Wheeling will become a reality.

John Jack, GreenHunter vice president, shows the storage tanks the company refurbished upon purchasing this facility along Ohio 7 in New Matamoras. He also hopes that once built, the local community will grow to appreciate the recycling facility.

“I am encouraged – it is going to happen,” Jack said regarding the Wheeling barging and frack recycling plant proposed for North 28th Street at the former Seidler’s Oil Service. “Ultimately, Wheeling will benefit from this.”

Strong opposition to GreenHunter’s Wheeling project persists, though, as a group of residents calling themselves the “Wheeling Water Warriors” continue collecting signatures of people who oppose the plant. They recently held a protest in Warwood’s Garden Park, emphasizing they do not want frack wastewater stored only about a mile north of the Wheeling Water Plant.

Jack realizes some do not support his company’s work, as Washington County, Ohio sheriff’s deputies arrested 10 people in February for protesting at the New Matamoras facility, including one man who climbed to the top of one of the storage tanks.

“Once we get our two variances approved, we will submit a final site plan,” he said of the papers that would go to the Wheeling Planning Commission. “We are moving as quickly as we can.”

He said the first variance is a request to reduce the number of required parking spaces from 27 to 13. The second is a request to cover the site’s surface with gravel, rather than asphalt. “Those are not major issues. If they say they want us to have 27, we’ll have 27. If they want asphalt, we’ll use asphalt,” he said.

But it appears as if the city is gearing up for a legal fight with GreenHunter. City Manager Robert Herron said Wheeling leaders believe the company will need to request a zone change to cross the Wheeling Heritage Trail to reach the barging terminal along the Ohio River. Although the main site of GreenHunter’s project is zoned for industrial use, the area from the trail to the river is zoned residential.

He said the Wheeling facility will operate 24 hours per day every day, though he said “90 percent to 95 percent” of the trucks that come through each day will do so during daytime hours. Though Jack said the number of trucks entering and exiting the facility each day could vary widely, he said a “good daily estimate” would be 30.

Though the 12 full-time workers GreenHunter plans to have on site may seem small, Jack noted the company will also be paying business and occupation taxes and fire service fees to the city. “Whatever the tax obligations are to work in Wheeling, we will meet those obligations,” he said.

After treating the frack water, GreenHunter plans to ship brine water – the vast majority of its volume, according to Jack – by truck back to well sites for re-use. Solid waste would go to a landfill outside Parkersburg, with liquid waste taken by barge for disposal at one of several deep injection wells.

The U.S. Coast Guard continues to review whether fracking waste can be shipped on inland waterways via barge. Jack contends there is less chance of an accident on the river compared to roadways. “There are hydrocarbons on the river all day long,” Jack said in terms of coal and gasoline shipments. “What will be going out on our barges is non-hazardous.”

Though GreenHunter’s recycling process removes the suspended solids from the frack water, Jack admits trace amounts of chemicals and salts will remain in the water. Though radium and uranium are considered radioactive, he said these elements will be minuscule in volume. He said the Coast Guard will eventually allow the Marcellus and Utica frack waste to be barged, noting, “It is not a matter of if, but when.”

However, residents need not fear huge amounts of barge traffic, as Jack estimates only one such vessel will leave the Warwood dock each week.