Fracking, Landslide Repairs Progress

Morgantown Dominion Post
14 September 2011
By Tracy Eddy

Northeast Natural Energy plans to start fracking the two Marcellus wells at the Morgantown Industrial Park next week, Morgantown Utility Board (MUB) General Manager Tim Ball said Tuesday.

Ball made the announcement during the utility board’s monthly meeting. He said he spoke with representatives from the drilling company earlier that day.

Fracking is scheduled to begin Sept. 22, Ball said, and could take a couple weeks to complete. The two Marcellus wells are within 3,000 feet of MUB’s water intake.

Ball said he doesn’t know yet if the drilling company will purchase the water it needs for the fracking from MUB or if it will pull it out of the Monongahela River.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the utility board unanimously voted to award a contract for landslide repairs on the Caperton Trail to Bilco Construction in Newton. The board also gave Ball the authority to negotiate a lower price with the company.

Ball said Bilco was the lowest of four bidders at $2.37 million, but the price was still close to $1 million over what was previously estimated.

“We don’t have the funds to cover a $2.3 million bid,” he said.

The utility board already started to negotiate with the construction company, Ball said — the most recent discussions indicate the price dropped to $1.65 million, but nothing official has been determined.

The board agreed not to spend more than $1.7 million on the project.

Chairman J.T. Straface asked if the board should put the project out for bid again, but Ball said the bids were all pretty close to $2.6 million, so it’s an accurate quotation of the price. He added that Bilco was a reputable company and the utility board had worked with them in the past.

The land slip closed a section of the Caperton Trail from Sixth Street to Star City.

Ball said there are two MUB pipes running parallel to the trail. One pipe has been displaced by the slip — but is not leaking — and the other pipe didn’t move, though the ground around it did. Designs call for piling walls and piers to stabilize the pipes and trail, but not the land below the trail.

The contract will also include rebuilding the area of the rail-trail affected.