Hanover residents raise concerns about frack water tank farm

Possible frack water-treatment facility raises alarm for locals

February 12, 2014
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Emily Petsko / Observer-Reporter
Pam Chappell of Hanover Township points to the site on Steubenville Pike where an access road would be constructed if township officials approve a conditional-use application by Hydro Recovery to construct a facility to recycle frack water. Order a Print
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Photo courtesy of Pam Chappell
Hanover Township resident Pam Chappell put a sign in her front yard to appeal to supervisors to vote down a proposed facility for recycling frack water.
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Emily Petsko / Observer-Reporter
The access road for a proposed frack water recycling facility in Hanover Township would be across from Hanover Acre Apartments on Steubenville Pike, which are owned by Cyndy Triebsch of Smith Township. Order a Print
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Emily Petsko / Observer-Reporter
Hanover Township residents Dawn Paden, left, and Barbara Zianni are shown at Pam Chappell’s home, where they recently discussed their opposition to the proposed Hydro Recovery facility. Order a Print

FLORENCE – Five hundred seventy-eight yards: That’s the distance from Pam Chappell’s home in Florence, Hanover Township, to the site of a proposed tank farm that would process and recycle frack water.

Step by step, Chappell measured the distance with a rangefinder – from her picnic table to her grape arbor and from there to Golfland on Route 22, which Chappell said is roughly 200 yards from the proposed industrial site.

Chappell and a dozen of her neighbors said the short distance from the proposed water-treatment facility to their homes and township park is cause for concern.

Township supervisors could vote to approve or deny the site application as early as Feb. 20 after a public hearing is held at 6:30 p.m. at the municipal building.

Hydro Recovery LP, based in Blossburg, needs township approval to construct six double-containment tanks capable of storing as much as 12 million gallons of liquid waste altogether.

The company has a sales agreement for 20 acres of industrial-zoned land between Old Steubenville Pike and Route 22 that is currently owned by The Buncher Co., a Pittsburgh real estate group.

If the site application is approved, Hydro Recovery truck drivers would transport flowback and produced water from gas well pads to the Hanover Township facility. The facility would then treat and recycle the water, and it would be transported back to well sites to use in the hydraulic fracturing process.

The liquid waste also could contain frack sand, boring fluids from pipeline construction and stormwater collected in an operator’s secondary containment, according to information provided by Hydro Recovery.

The company would construct a new 2,500-foot access road about 100 feet east of the existing Golfland entrance, which would be widened by about 60 feet.

Hydro Recovery estimates it would bring in an average of 150 trucks per day, operating around the clock.

The site would include six truck bays, with secondary containment to load and unload liquid waste, at the south end of the property between the facility and Route 22.

Teresa Irvin McCurdy, Hydro Recovery government and public relations manager, said trucks could come into Hanover Township from any distance, but “economically we found most of the trucking will be within 60 miles to reduce trucking cost.”

Chappell said increased truck traffic would be her greatest fear. She said Pittsburgh doctors told her that her father, a truck driver, died from environmental cancer caused by diesel exhaust fumes.

“I feel like I’m basically being pushed out of my home that my parents left me,” Chappell said. “I’m 44 years old. I was raised here.”

Chappell mailed letters to township residents urging them to speak out and attend the upcoming public hearing, which was continued from a hearing last month. She also posted a large, lighted sign in her front yard addressed to township supervisors Kevin Lemmi, David Duerr and Herb Grubbs, calling on them to “vote no to Hydro Recovery.”

Some residents have questioned why the company isn’t considering land in the Starpointe Business Park, which is farther from residential properties.

Grubbs, Ted Shiska and Brian Beyerbach, members of the township planning commission, agreed at last month’s meeting that the water-treatment facility should be located at Starpointe. However, they also recommended seven conditions for supervisors to impose if they approve the facility at the Florence site. These included stipulations on the access road entrance; updating signs and traffic signals in Florence; ensuring plans are reviewed and approved by the township engineer and Hanover fire department; and ensuring that the township receives inspection reports from the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Grubbs, who is both a supervisor and planning commission member, said Tuesday “there’s been a lot of stuff tossed around, but nothing solid.” He said supervisors will listen to residents’ concerns at the public hearing and consider setting reasonable conditions.

McCurdy said Hydro Recovery still has an open dialogue with Starpointe, but the company “would have to access Starpointe by way of the Steubenville Pike; therefore, the same trucking issues may still arise.” She said the topography at Starpointe would also create challenges because more earthwork would need to be done. Dan Reitz, executive director of the Washington County Council on Economic Development, said Hydro Recovery is still participating in discussions regarding the potential site at Starpointe. “We put together a site toward the back of the (industrial) park away from residential areas,” Reitz said, adding that from that location, residents would “never even know it’s there.” Reitz said the land is already zoned for special use, and he doesn’t envision it would be difficult to have the company’s application approved for Starpointe.

McCurdy said Hydro Recovery previously applied for a zoning variance on a lot across from First Niagara Pavilion, which “would have eliminated the trucking problem by keeping trucks on Route 18,” but it was denied by the township.

The proposed access road to the Florence facility would be across from Hanover Acres, a 16-unit apartment development owned by Smith Township resident Cyndy Triebsch.

Triebsch said she would worry about the safety and health of her tenants if the facility is approved.

“The layout of the land is not conducive to this type of business,” Triebsch said. “The safety and health primarily are the key right there. The noise, the smell … the toxins that are being brought in, the continuous running of the company ... With all those trucks, I’m so concerned because it’s near the entrance to our apartments, and I’m concerned for everybody’s safety.”

Hydro Recovery officials said the water treatment process does not produce vibration, noise or smells, and would not adversely affect the wetlands near the proposed site. Company representatives also stated the tanks would be designed to hold 110 percent of the largest tank’s capacity in the event of a spill. McCurdy said about 24 jobs would be created at full operation of the facility. The company has operated two facilities since 2011 in Tioga County, where it has stored 10.1 million gallons of untreated and treated brine water. Hydro Recovery “has met and exceeds state Department of Environmental Protection requirements,” according to the company.

Township resident Dawn Paden said she and her neighbors are not opposed to development, but she wants supervisors to consider another location for the Hydro Recovery facility.

“We’re going to have activity, and we understand that, we do,” Paden said. “I just don’t believe the site that they’ve chosen is going to be safe for us. ... We want to be safe in our neighborhoods. Everybody has that right, and I believe that company is going to take that away from us.”

Emily Petsko joined the Observer-Reporter as a staff writer in June 2013. She graduated from Point Park University with a dual bachelor's degree in journalism and global cultural studies.

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