Stout: Wheeling on its own with GreenHunter

WHEELING – Arsenic, barium and bromides are some of the potentially hazardous compounds Ben Stout believes are on their way to Warwood because of the GreenHunter Water natural gas frack water recycling plant.

“This stuff is a threat to residents and a threat to first responders,” said the Wheeling Jesuit University biology professor, noting he believes many of the trucks carrying material under a label of “fresh water” may actually be hauling hazardous waste.

“Even the truck drivers don’t know what they are hauling,” Stout said.

Stout told an audience of about 50 concerned residents during the Tuesday edition of the Ohio County Public Library “Fracking Facts” series that if they want to keep their water supply safe, they may have to take political or legal action because he does not believe the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection will oversee the project at North 28th Street. The facility is about 1.2 miles upstream from the City of Wheeling’s water treatment plant.

“Wheeling is on its own with this one because there are no state regulations on places like this. There is no air monitoring or water monitoring,” he said. “There is no one else to enforce anything.”

Despite loud and repeated objections from the “Wheeling Water Warriors,” members of the Wheeling Planning Commission voted this summer to allow GreenHunter to proceed with its project, which will be located directly adjacent to the Wheeling Heritage Trail.

One of the warriors, Erin Bowers, was in the library audience Tuesday, urging those concerned to get more involved.

“This is our community – and we don’t want it to be a toxic waste dump,” she said.

John Jack, vice president of Business Development for GreenHunter, said it is now likely the plant will open in February or March. 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.

Jack has said the DEP will do a “walk-through” inspection of the plant once it is up and running. However, DEP spokeswoman Kathy Cosco recently said she did not believe GreenHunter needed any permit from the agency.

Stout said most of the problematic materials found in the brine water are found naturally within the Marcellus or Utica shale formations and are not the result of chemicals added to the fracking fluid.

“We can’t drink their money,” he emphasized in urging audience members to try to somehow prevent the plant’s construction.

As Stout was speaking, Wetzel County Action Group member Bill Hughes asked if he could make a few points. Hughes said that another possible problem could arise once GreenHunter takes its solid waste to landfills because there is not much oversite at these facilities.

The “Fracking Facts” series is scheduled to continue at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 29 with a free screening of the documentary, “Gasland 2”. Also, former Pittsburgh City Councilman Doug Shields is scheduled to attend, as he served when the governing body voted to outlaw fracking within city limits.