Mt. Pleasant officials are demanding that Range Resources removes its four water impoundments in the township, but the company is challenging that request on its assertion that the pools are still needed for drilling around the area.
Larry Chome, who is the municipality’s zoning officer, on June 13 sent a letter asking the company to restore the one wastewater and three freshwater impoundments because natural gas drilling has not occurred in the township in more than two years.
“We find the continued use of (the impoundments) to be in violation of Mt. Pleasant Township zoning ordinance, Article 5, Chapter 200-22, because the use of freshwater or wastewater impoundments is an incidental use to the drilling of an oil or natural gas well,” Chome wrote. “Since the well or wells near the impoundment are completed, there is no need for the continued use for the impoundments.”
Range Resources appealed that request, and there will be a zoning board hearing at 7 p.m. Aug. 13 at Mt. Pleasant Volunteer Fire Department’s social hall.
“We’ll have to see what transpires at the hearing,” Chome said.
Range spokesman Matt Pitzarella acknowledged the company hasn’t drilled in Mt. Pleasant for some time, but said they still see potential for new exploration there in the near future. He said the company plans to work with the township to discuss the use of the impoundments and how it can be more beneficial for both sides to keep them rather than install new pools at every well site.
“We’re confident we can actually work the issues out with the township and hopefully resolve the matter amicably in the near future,” Pitzarella said. “The impoundments are for long-term use, and they’re centralized. We both want the same thing: We want the least possible impact for the area and to maximize its benefits.”
He suggested the closure of the four impoundments would cause more disruptions to the community, since there would be more pools around the area. Pitzarella added that they are willing to address complaints about truck traffic and dust from those vehicles coming through the community.
“They’re in a good position because of the infrastructure that is already out there,” he said. “We have desires to be there, but we want to work with the township so we can develop it in a comprehensive manner.”
The water impoundments installed in Washington County’s main drilling areas stirred up controversy in recent months.
Concerns about the Worstell impoundment in Cecil Township prompted state environmental regulators to schedule a private meeting with municipal officials. The state Department of Environmental Protection and Cecil supervisors will meet 11 a.m. Aug. 9 at the agency’s regional office in Pittsburgh.
DEP spokesman John Poister said that although the meeting is closed to the public, residents are encouraged to submit questions to their supervisors that might be answered during the meeting.
“We’re hoping to establish a dialogue and maybe build some bridges out of this meeting by answering some questions,” Poister said. “If we can do that, then there could be other opportunities out there for more (community) input down the road.”