CHARLESTON - Ben Stout took his fight against the GreenHunter Water natural gas frack water recycling plant to Charleston on Tuesday, as he testified to the West Virginia Joint Legislative Oversight Commission on State Water Resources.
On the other side of the debate, GreenHunter Vice President of Operations Rick Zickefoose also spoke before the special committee of the West Virginia Legislature. He took the place of John Jack, vice president of Business Development for GreenHunter, who had been on the commission's schedule.
"I want to make sure that legislators are aware of this. This should not be taken lightly. I don't think that a facility like this belongs near a residential area. Too many people are too close - and the stuff is way too nasty," Stout, a Wheeling Jesuit University biology professor, said prior to his official testimony. "This stuff is hazardous waste."
"We were invited to give an overview of what we do," Zickefoose said of the session. "This was just an informational session for us to show them what is involved."
However, Stout remains resolute in his opposition. He said arsenic, barium and bromides are some of the potentially hazardous compounds Stout said GreenHunter could be trucking into the site at North 28th Street in the Warwood section of Wheeling. The company also continues seeking permission from the U.S. Coast Guard to place the waste on Ohio River barges that would be loaded in Warwood at a rate of about one per week.
Stout has said he does not believe the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection will oversee the project. Jack said the DEP will do a "walk-through" inspection of the plant once it is up and running. However, DEP officials recently said GreenHunter does not need a permit from the agency.
"We just need to get some factual information out there. Let the Legislature make their own decision," Stout said. "Our first-responders don't know what is in these trucks."
Officials with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the brine GreenHunter wants to recycle in Warwood can contain radioactive radium and radon. Though radium, uranium and radon are considered radioactive, Jack said these elements will be minuscule in volume. He also said the company's workers will wear radiation detectors while on the job.
"Radium, when concentrations greatly exceed hazardous waste standards, creates a problem," Stout said.
Jack 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. He and other GreenHunter officials have also said they do not understand why there would be a problem with barging the waste, citing barges that carry coal on the river daily.