By CASEY JUNKINS
TRIADELPHIA, W.Va. - Chesapeake Energy has permission from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to emit carbon monoxide, methane, formaldehyde and other chemicals from the Dytko natural gas site on Stone Church Road.
Despite several objections - including one from Dr. Michael Blatt, a physician specializing in respiratory disease who happens to live near the well site - DEP Division of Air Quality Director John Benedict approved the driller's application this month.
This is just one of the many sites the company is seeking to release such pollution, however, as the company issued three additional legal advertisements this week to do the same thing at three other drilling pads.
Chesapeake, in multiple legal advertisements, has confirmed the "potential to discharge" various amounts of these materials on an annual basis from the operations at the compressor stations: carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, methane, carbon dioxide equivalent, benzene, xylenes, toluene and formaldehyde.
The company filed notice to release similar emissions from a well on property in the name of Hubbard at a drilling pad east of Wellsburg, in the name of Ryniawec at a drilling pad near West Liberty and in the name of Ratcliffe at a drilling pad near GC&P Road in Ohio County.
In addition to the pollution from the well sites, Chesapeake - the only active Marcellus driller in Ohio, Brooke or Hancock counties - also will release similar emissions from its local compressor stations. One of these is just off the Interstate 70 Dallas Pike exit near The Highlands, while another is in the Sand Hill area near the Marshall/Ohio County border. The "potential to emit" amounts of sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and other chemicals that may be released at the sites can vary, according to numerous legal advertisements posted by Chesapeake.
However, because the DEP's air quality division does not measure the cumulative environmental impact of Chesapeake's multiple sites throughout Ohio County, regulators evaluate each individual site on its own - without regard to how much pollution nearby similar well pads, compressor stations, processing plans or trucks will release.
Chesapeake Senior Director of Corporate Development Stacey Brodak has said the company trusts the DEP's regulatory process, noting she believes the agency will do what is needed to keep the air safe.
In a related matter, the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department is also working to collect data for a study to see how drilling will impact the local air quality over the long term.