Residents concerned about wastewater permit

Local News May 5, 2020 Marietta Times by Michele Newbanks,

The public comment period is set to end Wednesday on a permit for a docking facility at Deep Rock Disposal Solutions. The docking facility, which would be located just south of Marietta on Ohio 7, is where local residents are concerned fracking wastewater will be offloaded.

The Independent Petroleum Association of America explains hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, is the process of injecting liquid and materials at high pressure to create small fractures within tight shale formations. This is to stimulate production and extract energy from an underground well after the drilling has ended and the rig and derrick are removed from the site.

Devola resident George Banziger said in an email that he and others are concerned about the project.

“(We) are very concerned about the health hazards of his proposed facility, the lack of attention to this issue publicly, and the timing of the public comment period – to end May 6,” he said. “It seems that the intention is to offer the comment period just when everyone is consumed with news about the coronavirus.”

Dawn Hewitt of Marietta said the notice was published on the Huntington District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ website. It requests the authorization to operate a barge offloading facility to transfer traditional well waste to existing upload storage tanks.

“Who looks there?” Hewitt said of the website. “If it was announced, it was announced in the Huntington (W.Va.) newspaper. It wasn’t brought to the attention of people here. They were following the letter of the law, not the spirit of the law.”

Ohio Revised Code notes that all legal advertisements , notices and proclamations shall be printed in a newspaper of general circulation and shall be posted by the publisher of the newspaper on the newspaper’s internet website, if the newspaper has one.

Chuck Minsker, public affairs specialist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, noted the regulatory office said there are no plans to expand the public comment period. He was unaware if the notices had run in any newspapers.

Marietta resident Rebecca Phillips said drilling waste contents could likely include arsenic, benzene, toulene and mercury, as well as radioactive materials.

She said several people she knows have contacted the corps of engineers, but they haven’t heard much beyond the notice on the website.

“What we’ve been told by the corps, is that it is for traditional wastewater by oil and gas wells,” she said. “Anything coming out of the ground has danger of pollutants, even if it’s traditional wastewater.”

Phillips said she is concerned that southern Ohio is becoming a dumping ground.

“We are geologically suited (for wastewater dumping), but the notion of wastewater, we have no rights to know what’s in it,” she explained. “They can take waste water from all over the country and inject it into the ground here.”

She said the area is already getting truck loads of waste, but having a docking facility would add to the current problem.

John Mossor, who applied for Deep Rock’s permit, did not return calls for comment.

Hewitt said there are brine trucks driving through Marietta that are full of “toxic, contaminated water” that’s being pumped into old wells.

“I’m not convinced of the safety of the disposal method,” she said. “I’m concerned we are contaminating our ground water, and bringing in more could be a threat.”

She said there are only a few disposal sites in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, but Ohio has thousands.

“I wonder how carefully these waste disposal sites are inspected,” Hewitt said. “This area where this barge is proposed is already contaminated. We should be working to clean things up instead of contaminating it more.”

A call to Darryl Ting, a retired chemical engineer from Marietta who wrote a letter to the corps of engineers about his concerns with the permit, was not returned by press time.

The letter said that Ting also had concerns about the public notification process, as well as concerns about the waste itself, which he believes to be fracking waste.

“The difference is significant,” he said in the letter. “Fracking waste contains as many as 157 chemicals known to be toxic…by a legal loophole, fracking waste is not legally hazardous.”

Ting also said that there is no evidence a process safety review has been made.