Village Citizens Oppose Drilling Waste Plan

May 20, 2014
By GLYNIS VALENTI , Shale Play

Village officials in Barnesville on Monday set the record straight regarding a proposed plan to allow the East Ohio Regional Industrial Park on Ohio 800 to accept gas drilling waste products.

Barnesville Village Council hosted a town meeting Monday night regarding the project, which has been approved by the Belmont County Port Authority Board of Trustees, which oversees the park.

However, public opposition built when residents thought fracking waste would be dumped there. Council called the meeting to present facts about the project and dispel misinformation. A company from Columbus, EnerGreen360 has developed a technique to clean and solidify top hole drill cuttings from gas wells.

There is no fracking waste involved; the material is the dirt from the drilling process, which may have trace amounts of refined oil-based substances only from the drill bit.

Rob Smith, president of EnerGreen360, gave an overview of their status. The company attended at least three Port Authority board meetings to present the plans and process. EnerGreen360 will be taking the top hole cuttings which include naturally occurring radioactive materials. In many cases, the material is deposited back onto the drill site, but it is also used to build roads and construct drill pads. EnerGreen360 would be cleaning the material and treating it with Portland cement to level areas in the park for buildings.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has approved the company's permit, and they are, according to Smith, about two weeks from submitting their Ohio EPA permit application. EnerGreen360 hired a company to continue testing soil and ponds at the park, and they are in progress. The storm water management plan submitted to the OEPA was approved last week.

The lease agreement with the Port Authority, which was approved by the board but not signed, takes additional precautions for monitoring radiation levels by implementing testing by both EnerGreen360 and the Port Authority at EnerGreen360's expense. Smith added regulations allow EnerGreen360 to use the drill cuttings without treating them, but the company is going above and beyond.

Craig Butler, director of the Ohio EPA, confirmed his agency has not received the EnerGreen360 application yet, but said the OEPA has been looking for alternative uses for NORM drill cuttings, which he described as ground up rock. The OEPA is allowing cuttings to be reused in other locations, and the end use determines the types of testing necessary to insure its safety. OEPA would like to keep the material from taking space in landfills since it is considered re-useable.

Nathan Johnson, an attorney with the Ohio Environmental Council, gave the group information on House Bill 59, passed in September. He said the final bill removed the drill cuttings on which this project is based from the technology enhanced naturally occurring radioactive materials category.

He called Ohio law inadequate for regulating the oil and gas industry and said ODNR has no rules when it comes to testing and requirements for materials and uses.

Butler said the OEPA granted an application for a similar project in Columbus, and they took one year to review the proposal and application. He said that there is no guarantee that EnerGreen360's proposal would be granted because each application is studied and evaluated based on its own process and reuse.

"It's good to see citizens come out and want to learn more about this," Butler said. "We don't want people put at higher risk."

 
 

 

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