Roads remain focus of Harrison shale safety group

CADIZ – Harrison County Sheriff Ronald J. Myers conducted the monthly shale safety meeting at the Puskarich Library in Cadiz Monday with 47 local government officials, representatives of oil and gas companies, law enforcement personnel and concerned citizens attending the 90-minute session.

Once again the discussion marked the issue of road use and maintenance agreements as the primary source of issues arising from the boom of gas-related industry in the county.

During the meeting, both sides discussed the standards in place to protect roads, culverts and bridges in the county from harm caused by gas drilling and pipeline construction-related activity.

Harrison County Engineer Rob Sterling cited two specific concerns with county Roads 25 and 22.

“The county has had to put patch in those holes,” Sterling said. “It is a waste of government money to fill those holes when they will eventually be paving them.”

“While companies have been willing to address road use maintenance agreements, some are not following through and completing the repairs on the roads,” agreed Jim Albright, Harrison County highway superintendent. “We have some repairs which have been waiting for over a year now.”

“Harrison County Commissioner Dale Norris knows the issue well, having held Albright’s job prior to his term on the board. “I think that RUMA work should be completed no more than two to four weeks after they finish construction or drilling at the location.”

“We believe we need to reach a balance between providing adequate protection for our infrastructure against not being a hindrance to the drilling industry,” said Norris. “However, it is our responsibility to ensure that if the roads are damaged the repairs are made as promised and in a timely manner.”

Several township representatives were in attendance and echoed the concerns. The RUMAs used throughout the county differ in their requirements, making it difficult for the sheriff to keep track of all the different stipulations.

Anna M. Kuzmich, statewide shale coordinator for the Ohio Department of Transportation, explained that the issues were being addressed as part of HB 315 and that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and ODOT were working together to provide feedback in order to adopt a standard for RUMAs in the state.

It was also suggested that the sheriff’s department be informed of all the RUMAs, county and township, so that they can be posted at the department for reference by the dispatcher.

Sterling stated that his engineer’s office was keeping track of the county RUMAs on its web site and that data could be accessed.

Myers suggested a database which would contain all of the locations and agreements covering the wells, pipelines, compressor stations and fracking plants in the county. In addition to helping law enforcement with issuing tickets, the data would be critical in the case of an emergency.

“When we have with accidents, disasters and other emergencies, you must have the information available for first responders,” Myers said.

Myers said he had attended fire brigade training at the Ohio Fire Academy in Columbus and found that the academy was in need of some data on the situation in the county as well.

“Firefighters and first responders need to have the knowledge and skills to quickly and efficiently mitigate these situations,” Myers stated. “We need to make sure we are using the best methods available in the event something should happen.”

The sheriff said the fire academy had interest in bringing training to Harrison County.

“We are looking into finding funding to bring the academy to the county,” Myers added. “The training personnel at the academy will be making a trip to the county to tour the fracking facilities in Cadiz and Scio.”

In other business:

Access Midstream told the group that it would be holding an open house for its gas pumping compressor facility it is completed.

Kuzmich reminded all of the companies that overhead utilities were not to be moved by either their personnel or the hauling firms who transport their wide and super loads. Several instances of poles propping up lines and lines tied up with caution tape in the county were mentioned.

Myers reported that the total for the speed sign in Scio accessing the Midstream facility was more than 303,000 vehicles at last count.

The sheriff also noted that work on the well being drilled along U.S. Route 250 near state Route 151 was under way and that the state had posted two digital signs warning motorists. He added the department has been hired to have two cruisers stationed west and east of the entrance by Chevron.

The next meeting will be held at 10 a.m. July 29 in the library meeting room.