At the Monday, March 3 meeting of the newly appointed Barnesville Community Development Committee, Belmont County Port Authority Director Larry Merry addressed questions from Barnesville residents about a proposed site for EnerGreen 360 Holding Company LLC at the Eastern Ohio Regional Industrial Park on State Route 800 North near Barnesville.
In an Order by the Chief of the Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management dated January 3, 2014 to EnerGreen 360 Holding Company LLC, 6908 Lakebrook Blvd., Columbus, OH 43235, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources granted Energreen temporary authorization to operate a facility pursuant to R.C. 1509.22.
According to the Order, Energreen 360 LLC “operates a treatment facility located at the East Ohio Regional Industrial Park, Warren Township, Belmont County (“Energreen 360 Facility”). Energreen receives drill cuttings, processes the drill cuttings, and reuses the drill cuttings at the facility. Any drill cuttings that cannot be reused will be disposed of at a landfill.”
The East Ohio Regional Industrial Park, located on State Route 800 North, is operated by the Belmont County Port Authority.
The order goes on to say, Division (B) (2) (a) of R.C. 1509.22 states, in pertinent part, that “On and after January 1, 2014, no person shall store, recycle, treat, process, or dispose of in this state bring or other waste substances associated with the exploration, development, well stimulation, production operations, or plugging of oil and gas resources without an order or a permit issued under this section or section 1509.06 or 1509.21 of the Revised Code or rules adopted under any of those sections.”
According to the ODNR order, the application from EnerGreen requesting to operate the facility was received on December 27, 2013. In its application, EnerGreen supplied the Division with information and details regarding its operations.
Prior to the meeting, Barnesville resident Jill Hunkler gave Barnesville Council President Dale Bunting a copy of “Hydraulic Fracturing Radiological Concerns for Ohio fact sheet” prepared by the Freshwater Accountability Project Ohio of Grand Rapids, Ohio.
Hunkler cited research on the potential hazards of waste from fracking done by herself and Beallsville resident John Morgan of Raven Rocks. Morgan is one of the parties to an appeal challenging the legality of the proposed site filed by the FWAPOH with the Ohio Gas and Oil Commission on February 13th.
In a press release that appeared on a blog at www.ohio.com/blogs/drilling-utica-shale, the FWAPOH described itself as an organization of activists dedicated to water protection and opposed to oil and gas drilling via hydraulic fracturing (fracking).
The FWAPOH points to that fact that ODNR approved the project application in less than one week, to support their opinion that the permitting process was rushed without proper research into the possible environmental impacts of the site.
Hunkler said no one was talking about the project and felt, “we all should have a voice on the future of our community.”
Merry said the project had not yet been approved. He said Energreen first approached the Port Authority Board two to three months ago, and the proposal was revisited again two weeks prior to the March 3rd meeting.
Merry said the Port Authority Board was working on a contract with Energreen.
Barnesville Economic Development Director and Port Authority Board member Bill Knox said he would never allow anything harmful to come to Barnesville. Knox said the negotiations with Energreen would be “a completely transparent process” and suggested that a public meeting he held prior to approving the contract.
Merry said that the term “fracking waste” to describe Energreen’s process was “confusing people.” Merry said “zero” frack material would be hauled into the industrial park because it is not allowed by Ohio law, the Environmental Protection Agency or ODNR.
Merry said the drill cuttings are dirt from the hole drilled for the wells. He said that dirt is currently being taken to a land fill, which is creating a problem.
Merry said Energreen’s process was a new one, because the drill cuttings from Ohio’s shale has 10 times less radon than those from West Virginia and Pennyslvania. He described the cleaned dirt, of which he had a sample on his desk, as “smelling soapy”. Merry said the material has to be tested before it can even leave the source. He said the material is then mixed with a concrete-type material to stabilize and compact it. Merry said that product is again tested and weighed.
Merry said Knox asked many questions of Energreen’s representatives. Knox said he personally disliked ODNR after the village’s experience with a lands unsuitable ruling.
“I don’t have confidence in their permitting and sampling,” Knox said. However, he said Energreen has been nothing but forthright and has welcomed OEPA involvement.
Merry said the decision should be based on the science of the process and was to be trusted. He said the Port Authority had no problem with third-party testing.
Merry said the industrial park was “topographically challenged”. “There are people who think I have lost my freaking mind putting an industrial park on those hills,” Merry said. He said Energreen will level areas that could be developed.
“I’m not trying to poison anybody. I don’t want to harm anybody,” Merry said.
He said all levels of the material would be under regulation and any material with high T-NORM (Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material) levels would not come to the industrial park.
Hunkler said the copy she had of the ODNR permit did not say Energreen would only be using the dirt from the wells.
Merry said the process had nothing to do with fracking and the material is compacted so that it can be used.
“It becomes a safe situation to handle something that could be dangerous,” he said.
“I am trying to create something good out of this. I am trying to develop the park,” Merry said.
Merry said he has done a lot of research on Ohio shale and talked with others with knowledge in the business to get their opinions.
“I think this is very safe,” Merry stated. “I am not trying to do anything that is environmentally unsafe.”
He said the port authority would not receive much money from the project, but could use that money to get phone lines, etc. extended to the industrial park.
A resident asked if there would be any financial benefits for Barnesville. Merry said yes, because by the end of the year at least one, six-acre pad (made of the material) would be built.
“The community as a whole made the decision that they want the oil and gas industry in the area,” Merry said.
“There are issues and hazards in other states and I don’t have faith in our state’s regulations,” Hunkler said. She asked those present to look at her sources of information, copies of which she provided them.
“As leaders of the community, your first priority is the health and safety of the community,” she said. “I am extremely concerned and am going to do everything I can to stop this.”
She is asking people to sign a petition online asking Governor Kasich and ODNR Chief Zehringer to revoke the permit for this fracking waste site. Petition link: http://www.change.org/petitions/ohio-governor-kasich-and-odnr-chief-zehringer-revoke-permits-for-fracking-radioactive-waste-sites
Knox said he thought people were getting ahead of themselves in the process and stated, “Together we will make a decision on what is best for the community.”