Coast Guard seeks input on frack waste barging
WHEELING – Those wishing to comment on whether companies such as GreenHunter Water should barge natural gas fracking waste have until Nov. 29 to let the U.S. Coast Guard know their concerns.
GreenHunter is in the process of building a frack water recycling plant on North 28th Street in Warwood, directly adjacent to the Wheeling Heritage Trail. John Jack, vice president of business development for GreenHunter, said the facility will help reduce congestion on roadways by replacing truck traffic with barge transport. He estimates only one loaded vessel will leave the Warwood dock each week.
However, members of the “Wheeling Water Warriors,” as well as Wheeling Jesuit University biology professor Ben Stout, remain concerned about GreenHunter’s plans. Stout believes having frack water that can contain hazardous materials such as arsenic, barium and bromides at a facility that is only 1.2 miles upstream from the city of Wheeling’s water treatment plant is dangerous.
Despite objections, members of the Wheeling Planning Commission voted this summer to allow GreenHunter to proceed with its project. Jack said there will be 19 storage tanks at the site, but emphasized the old tanks left over from Seidler’s will be dismantled and removed, while the existing building will see renovations. He said approximately 30 trucks, each carrying about 100 barrels of brine water from local fracking operations, should arrive at the site each day once it is up and running.
Officials with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the brine GreenHunter wants to recycle in Warwood can contain radioactive radium and radon. Though radium, uranium and radon are considered radioactive, Jack said these elements will be minuscule in volume. He also said the company’s workers will wear radiation detectors while on the job.
Tom Connelly, assistant director of the Wheeling Economic and Community Development Department, believes GreenHunter also needs a zone change to use the barging docks extending out into the Ohio River. He said the Wheeling Heritage Trail and these docks are now zoned for residential use rather than industrial use. However, Jack disagrees that a zone change is needed.