Fracking water concerns residents
PARIS, Pa. – Hanover Township residents made their doubts about a proposed fracking water recycling facility in the township known during a public hearing preceding Thursday’s township supervisors’ meeting.
More than 50 residents attended the meeting on Blossburg, Pa.-based Hydro Recovery’s conditional use application for a parcel located between U.S. Route 22 and Old Steubenville Pike, adjacent to the township park.
David Hedrick, Hydro Recovery vice president of site development, gave a presentation on the company’s proposal and answered questions. The facility would remove undissolved solids and adjust the pH levels of fracking water and store it in six 2-million-gallon tanks. The water later would be re-used to frack natural gas wells.
Public concern focused on the associated truck traffic – estimated at an average of 150 per day – and the fracking water’s potential toxicity. Residents also spoke about the possibility of noise and light pollution.
The facility potentially could be expanded to include another six tanks, increasing traffic by another 50 to 100 trucks per day. The company has filed for a low-volume Highway Occupancy Permit with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, which applies to facilities generating traffic of less than 750 trucks per day.
Residents spoke about potential road deterioration, increased traffic, accidents, diesel fumes and the use of jake brakes. Hedrick said the road should be built to PENNDOT specifications and be able to handle the trucks. He also said the gas industry requires safe operation from subcontractors, including monitoring truck speed by GPS. The access road will be paved in portions and tarred-and-chipped in others, he said.
Arthur Morra noted with 150 trucks arriving and departing, it would mean a truck traveling through the area every 10 minutes and expressed concern about the trucks sharing the road with school buses.
“It looks great on paper, but when we’re sitting in traffic, that’s another thing,” said Dawn Paden.
Nick Iannetti reiterated his belief the company should access the facility from Route 22 and is concerned the traffic would adversely affect his business.
Pam Chappell lives closest to the proposed site and noted there would be 1,500 trucks over a week, 4,200 a month and 50,400 a year. She is concerned about the diesel fumes.
“How healthy is that to be in my back yard?” she said. “It scares the hell out of me.”
Residents asked how Hydro Recovery would react to a frack water spill. The company applied for a permit through the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Municipal and Residual Waste, which requires a spill prevention plan.
If there was a leak, the exposed soil would be removed to a landfill and the surrounding pH levels checked to ensure there was no further pollution. The company would notify local first responders and the DEP, Hedrick said.
The fracking water is primarily brine, would kill vegetation and make people sick if it were consumed, but brine also is used to treat roadways before inclement weather, Hedrick said.
“Diesel or gasoline, which leaks on roads all the time, is far worse,” he said. “This (brine) isn’t explosive. It’s salt water.”
Ryan Grode, an environmental health educator with McMurray, Pa.-based Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project, asked about the water’s radioactivity.
“There is more radioactivity in your granite counter than there is in our sludge,” said Hedrick, noting radioactivity occurs naturally in everything.
Filter cakes, containing extracted undissolved solids, go to landfills in Tyler County, Columbiana County and Sommerset County. Approximately one to 10 dump truck loads are generated per day.
Grode noted the traffic and light and noise pollution could create stress and asked if the company had done any stress-related testing. Hedricks said they had not.
Hedrick said the facility could reduce lighting, if lighting at the access road entrance and tank farm were maintained for safety. The facility itself uses electric pumps and is no louder than a municipal waste facility. The company also is willing to plant additional trees to reduce noise and light pollution, he said.
Mark Sarracino noted another frack water recycling facility will be built in nearby Slovan, Pa., within 10 months and suggested the township tax incoming frack water. Hedrick acknowledged Max Environmental plans to build a facility.
Residents pressed the company to consider locating the facility at either the Starpointe Industrial Park or a lot across state Route 18 from First Niagara Pavilion.
“You are an industry, go to the industrial park,” said Paden. “We don’t want you moving contaminated water through our town. I’m going to do everything within my power to stop you.”
Hydro Recovery’s first choice would have been the location across from the pavilion, but a portion is zoned commercial and the township zoning and planning commission declined the company’s request to re-zone the property, Hedrick said.
The facility would create 25 jobs, 175 short of federal requirements if the company were to build in Starpointe’s developed portion. The company wouldn’t need to meet that requirement in the undeveloped portion, but the cost wasn’t feasible.
Hedrick added township officials wouldn’t allow the company to use the park’s main entrance on Route 18, but would require Hydro Recovery traffic to enter from Old Steubenville Pike, which Supervisor Herb Grubbs confirmed.
“They would tear up the road,” he said.