PARIS, Pa. - Several residents attended a Hanover Township Planning Commission meeting Tuesday to express concerns about the proposed development of a fracking wastewater recycling facility in the township.
Hydro Recovery of Blossburg, Pa., is negotiating to purchase an industrial-zoned parcel between Old Steubenville Pike and U.S. Route 22 from the Buncher Group. David Hedrick, vice president of site development, attended the meeting to present the proposal.
Hydro Recovery treats "flow-back water" - a fracking waste product, including a mixture of water, sand and chemicals that flow back out of a natural gas well - by filtering suspended solids and iron from the water and treating it with chemicals in 150,000 gallon batches. Dissolved solids and metals remain in the water, and the filter cakes are taken to a landfill. Once the water has been treated, natural gas companies re-use it in fracking operations.
The company plans to build six above-ground, double-containment tanks capable of holding 2 million gallons of water each on 20 acres, with potential to expand to another six tanks. In response to residents' concerns about contamination in light of the Elk River disaster, Hedrick said the facility could contain leaks of up to 110 percent of the largest tank's capacity.
"There is a lot of safety that goes into it," he said. "Everything's double-contained."
Hydro Recovery is inspected quarterly by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Waste Management and has not been cited for leaks or pollution, said Hedrick.
"We have a clean record," he said.
The company must secure a bond with the DEP, and, should the company go out of business for any reason, that money would be used to reclaim the site. Hedrick acknowledged he could sell the site to another company accepting municipal waste.
In addition to potential leaks, residents said they are concerned about traffic and noise and light pollution. The facility will average between 100 and 150 water trucks per day, with potential spikes of up to 220 trucks per day during peak periods. The facility will be open 24 hours a day.
Residents are concerned about traffic noise, wear on roads and the potential for accidents. Several of those in attendance asked about the traffic's affect on school buses and congestion during concerts.
"The problem is Buncher isn't living here," said Dawn Paden, resident and businesswoman. "The problem is you aren't living here. We live here. I don't want 220 water trucks driving through my front yard, it will drag down our property values."
Hydro Recovery plans to build a 2,500-foot-long access road, using Golf Lane's footprint. The entrance will be moved 100 feet to the east of the current entrance and widened to approximately 60 feet.
Residents asked if the company could access the property from Route 22 instead of Old Steubenville Pike. The steep grade and wetlands makes it unfeasible, and the Buncher Group, which owns the property between, would not give Hydro Recovery a right-of-way, Hedrick said.
"We asked them, and they said no," he said.
Nick Iannetti, businessman, expressed concern about drivers' speeding and driving recklessly and possibly striking a water truck stopped to make the turn into the facility. Paden agreed with his assessment and added residents referred to Old Steubenville Pike as "Talladega," in reference to NASCAR's Talladega Superspeedway, because of the reckless driving and speeding.
"I don't care if he puts that thing in there, but he needs another access point," said Iannetti.
Residents asked Herb Grubbs, commission member and township supervisor, if a stop light could be added or the speed limit lowered, and Grubbs noted Old Steubenville Pike and Route 18 are state roads and out of the township's jurisdiction.
Hydro Recovery requested a traffic assessment from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, but PENNDOT declined to conduct one, and the company has filed for a Highway Occupancy Permit, according to Hedrick.
Those attending expressed concern about around-the-clock noise from diesel trucks and the facility. Residents also were concerned about light pollution.
Hedrick said the facility would be approximately one-half mile from the nearest residence and there are hillsides that would reduce noise and light pollution.
"We want to be a good neighbor," he said. "We don't want problems."
Paden asked if Hedrick would consider the nearby Starpointe Industrial Park.
"They said they would work with you," she said. "We want industry in the industrial park, not our back yards."
If Hydro Recovery purchased a lot in the developed portion, federal regulations require 10 jobs be created for each acre purchased for a total of 200. The facility would create 25 jobs, falling short of that requirement.
If the company purchased a lot in the undeveloped portion, building infrastructure and earth work would cost an estimated $2 million. Grubbs also had looked at the undeveloped parcels and agreed necessary earth work would be costly.
Paden also suggested Hedrick consider a parcel across state Route 18 from the First Niagara Pavilion. That parcel isn't zoned for light manufacturing and warehousing, and the township supervisors declined Hydro Recovery's application to change the zoning, Hedrick said.
"I'm doing the best I can to fit into the community," said Hedrick. "If it isn't us, it would be FedEx, and they would have 1,000 trucks per day."
Residents encouraged Grubbs and the other supervisors to decline Hydro Recovery's request for conditional use.
"I don't believe you - who represent us - should allow this to come here," said Paden.
Hydro Recovery has applied for condition use, and the township supervisors have a right to apply reasonable conditions, according to Grubbs.
"I understand all your concerns - I could have guessed what you were going to say, I've been around for a while," said Grubbs. "It's not good protocol for someone who has to make a decision to shoot their mouth off before they make that decision."
"I know it looks bad, and the trucks sound bad, but, at the end of the day, it's no different than if we were building a gas station," said Hedrick.
Supervisor David Duerr, who attended, suggested the company consider working with the township to replace antiquated stop lights with those operated with sensors and utilizing cameras.
Residents suggested Hydro Recovery eliminate some of the access road lighting, and Hedrick indicated the company would consider that.
The township supervisors will consider Hydro Recovery's application at their meeting at 7 p.m. today at the municipal building, located at 11 Municipal Drive.