Smith Township holds public hearing for Marcellus Shale recycling facility

September 23, 2013
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Karen Mansfield / Observer-Reporter
TerrAqua Chief Operating Owner Quay Schappell talks with Smith Township supervisors about the company’s proposal to build a wastewater and fluid recycling facility. Order a Print
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Karen Mansfield / Observer-Reporter A planning commission member talks about restrictions the township will impose on TerrAqua as township resident Kathy Lodge looks on.
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Karen Mansfield / Observer-Reporter TerrAqua COO Quay Schappell shows supervisors an aerial site map of a proposed water transport facility in Smith Township.

A crowd of about 40 people turned out Monday at the Slovan Veterans of Foreign Wars for a public hearing to discuss a proposed wastewater and fluid recycling facility in Smith Township.

At the hearing, held by the Smith Township Board of Supervisors, Quay Schappell, chief operating owner of TerrAqua Resource Management, outlined plans for the proposed facility at 200 Max Drive, just off Bulger-Candor Road near the village of Bulger. Plans call for the facility to accept transported water from the oil and gas drilling industry, then filter and treat water to an acceptable level to be transported back to well pads.

Following TARM’s presentation, residents repeatedly voiced concerns over increased truck traffic and the contents of the residual waste being transported to TARM’s Bulger facility.

Schappell said the facility is prepared to handle a maximum of 100 trucks per day, and a traffic impact study conducted by a traffic engineer hired by TARM showed the township roads will not be impacted by that volume.

According to Schappell, drivers will unload the residual wastewater, which will be sent to a storage tank where it will then be processed and separated into liquids and solids. The solids will be sent to a residual waste landfill.

Smith Township planning commission secretary James Pickar read out loud 13 conditions the planning commission proposed that TARM adhere to before it would recommend that the conditional use permit be approved by supervisors.

Among them were limiting the hours of operation from 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday; limiting the number of trucks going to or from the Max or TARM Bulger facility to a total of 30 Saturdays; requiring trucks heading to the TARM facility use state Route 980 and Beech Hollow Road to Candor Road; and restricting travel on certain roads.

The planning commission also determined that TARM must obtain a subdivision from MAX Enviornmental for the land intended for use under the conditional use permit if the facility is used for five years or longer.

“We have concerns about traffic, not only in regard to volume, but also safety. We’re talking about some narrow roads those truck will be navigating, and there are school buses on those roads,” said Pickar following the hearing. “And we’re concerned about the safety of what’s contained in these wastes. They’re not entirely benign. We’re trying to take the position where we put reasonable restrictions on this, and that they’re enforceable.”

Schappell objected to some of the conditions, saying his company could not meet all of them. He said TARM needs to operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in order to meet the needs of its customers in the gas and oil field. He also said that because TARM does not own or operate the trucks that will be utilizing the facility, the company has no means to enforce penalties on the drivers.

According to Schappell, TARM has safeguards in place to prevent spills - the entire building itself, Schappell said, serves as a secondary containment device - and that the company will file an emergency plan Washington County if its conditional use permit is approved.

Supervisors will vote on the permit at the Oct. 15 meeting.

Karen Mansfield is an award-winning journalist and mom of five who has been a staff writer for the Observer-Reporter since 1988. She enjoys reading, the Pittsburgh Steelers, a good glass of wine and nice people.

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