Shale meeting held

CADIZ – Harrison County Sheriff Ronald J. Myers conducted the third monthly shale safety meeting Monday.

Local government officials, representatives of oil and gas companies and law enforcement personnel discussed issues concerning the boom of gas-related industry in the county.

During the meeting at the Puskarich Library, Lorna Bower of the Harrison County Emergency Management Agency said the agency will conduct an exercise Friday evening in Scio.

“The first step when developing an emergency response plan is to conduct a risk assessment to identify potential emergency scenarios,” said Bower. “This is not meant to frighten anyone, it is designed to develop an understanding of what can happen, which will enable us to determine resource requirements and to develop plans and procedures to prepare in the event of an actual emergency situation.”

According to Bower, it will be a full scale exercise with evacuations by school bus and public transportation to the Jewett First Station where the Red Cross will be stationed.

“We will be including local fire and EMS which will respond to accidents and injuries as if there was an actual leak,” she said.

The exercise will be held at 6 p.m. in the village and spectators are welcome, as well as volunteers. Bower can be contacted at the Harrison County Emergency Management office at (740) 942-3922.

“This is our first exercise,” said Bower, “We plan to have many more in the future at the various potential risk areas in the county so we can address as many risks as possible.”

Sgt. Greg McCutcheon of the Ohio State Highway Patrol reported environmental groups, including Earth First! and Appalachia Resist, had disrupted operations at Greenhunter Water’s hydraulic fracturing wastewater storage site near New Matamoras.

Approximately two dozen officers representing the Washington County Sheriff’s Department, the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the New Matamoras Police Department worked to contain traffic and the crowd of protesters.

“Ten people were arrested during an anti-fracking protest including a man who spent nearly five hours chained to a 30-foot-tall structure he erected, which he had wired to a water truck and a fence inside the facility,” Myers reported.

McCutcheon reported there was no violence at the protest, but some other protests in Pennsylvania have been violent, including an incident where a homemade explosive device had been planted near a pipeline.

“We have no reports of any violence so far but it is probably coming,” McCutcheon said. “We are asking that everyone be alert and aware and report anyone out of place at your facility.”

“These are fringe groups and our central intelligence unit is monitoring them,” McCutcheon added. “If you see something we suggest you call 911 and they will contact the proper authorities.”

The sheriff reported there had been one vendor related accident on state Route 151 outside of Scio in which a truck hauling gravel had overturned in a ditch.

“I do not have the report from the highway patrol, but we suspect speed and an overloaded truck were factors,” Myers said. “The driver did not have a valid operator’s license.”

Jim Albright of the Harrison County Highway Department told the sheriff he had to “slam on the brakes,” to avoid a collision with a truck that ran a stop sign at the intersection of county Roads 44 and 17.

The sheriff also reported a full-time deputy is patrolling Scio six days a week, and the Highway Patrol is stepping up weight and inspection presence in the county.

Myers stated his department had issued several citations, and McCutcheon said the motor vehicle enforcement units have “put a lot of trucks out of service.”

Lee Ann Wainwright of the Appalachian/Michigan Strategic Business Unit for Chevron North America offered her number for any complaints about vendors at Chevron sites. Her number is (877) 847-8408.

The sheriff also reported the guardrail at the intersection of state Route 646 and U.S. Route 250 was damaged from the super loads trying to navigate the corner

The next meeting will be held at 10 a.m. on April 29 at the library.