What’s the Holdup at GreenHunter Wheeling Frack Wastewater Plant?

After hitting a few rough patches with Wheeling, WV Planning Commission, GreenHunter Water finally received a green light to proceed with a frack wastewater recycling facility in Wheeling, along the shore of the Ohio River. Even though one Planning Commission member, Gloria Delbrugge, keeps a firmly closed mind about the facility (see Wheeling Councilwoman Will Shun GreenHunter Ribbon Cutting). Anti-drillers often have closed minds. All seemed fine with the Commission’s approval in hand and GreenHunter was on track to open the facility by the end of last year. But it still hasn’t happened. Why?

The main reason is that they’re still waiting on permission from the Coast Guard to move frack waste water by barge down the Ohio to points where GreenHunter owns some injection wells where they plan to dispose of some of the wastewater (see Coast Guard Wants Frack Wastewater Barges Tested – Every Load). There’s also the matter of receiving permits for trucks entering and exiting the facility (see GreenHunter’s Wheeling Frack Wastewater Facility Hits a Snag). And they’ll permits for the barges when/if the Coast Guard finally approves the barging plan. Oy vey! Regardless, GreenHunter remains laser focused on the Marcellus/Utica and is committed to bringing this (and other) facilities online. Here’s an update:
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GreenHunter’s Wheeling Frack Wastewater Facility Hits a Snag

GreenHunter Water, which is building a frack wastewater recycling (and potentially barging) facility in Wheeling, WV, has hit a snag. So far, it’s a pretty big snag. Last year the company received approval from the Wheeling Planning Commission to proceed with the plant, after initial resistance. So far, the WV Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) has not issued any permits because they won’t and don’t need to review the plant until it’s ready to start operating. Then they’ll visit and evaluate.

However, the WV Dept. of Transportation’s Division of Highways (DOH) has rejected GreenHunter’s plan to have trucks with frack wastewater entering and exiting the plant. The DOH rejection happened last August and according to the DOH, they haven’t heard a thing from GreenHunter since…
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Check-in on GreenHunter’s Wheeling Frack Wastewater Plant

Spandex outfits on. Check. Capes flapping in the breeze. Check. Homemade protest signs created. Check. The so-called Wheeling Water Warriors are ready for more protests against the eeeve-ill, nasty frack wastewater company–GreenHunter. Yes saracasm. Yes we believe the “Water Warriors” are nothing more than fossil-fuel haters stoked by irrational fears that carbon (the very substance they’re made from) is actually a pollutant and that burning it will mean the end of our existence. Boggles the mind. But there you go.

It’s time to check in for an update on GreenHunter’s project to build a frack wastewater recycling facility in Wheeling, WV, and on GreenHunter’s future plans to ship frack wastewater via barge down the Ohio River when the Coast Guard gets around to issuing the “go ahead” signal. It’s also time to check in on the half dozen or so people who continue to grab headlines using the misleading name Wheeling Water Warriors…
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Wheeling, WV Approves GreenHunter Frack Wastewater Facility

With capes gently flapping in the breeze, it was a crushingly sad defeat for the brave and noble Wheeling Water Warriors who sought to stop the evil frackwater company from establishing yet another facility along the shores of the pristine (*cough*) Ohio River…. OK, enough of that drivel! A great victory for GreenHunter Water and for sanity: The Wheeling (WV) Planning Commission has approved GreenHunter’s plan to develop a frack wastewater recycling/barge facility at the former Seidler’s Oil Service site on North 28th Street. The plan, opposed by a small band of anti-drilling protesters who called themselves the Wheeling Water Warriors, came before the Planning Commission several times without a vote in recent months (see Wheeling Delays Vote Again on GreenHunter Wastewater Facility).

The Commission took up the matter again at it’s Monday meeting and finally voted to approve GreenHunter’s plan. Eventually, GreenHunter hopes to use the facility to not only recycle shale drilling wastewater, but also ship some of it (by barge) down the Ohio River to locations in Ohio for disposal via injection wells. Shipping wastewater by barge is currently under review at the federal level, awaiting approval…
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Wheeling Delays Vote Again on GreenHunter Wastewater Facility

It looks like the Wheeling Water Warriors will live to fight for another month. The Wheeling (WV) Planning Commission was due to finally vote to allow GreenHunter Water to build a frack wastewater recycling plant at a facility along the Ohio River in Wheeling. After some initial bumps, it seemed as if things were going along fine and that the Commission would vote last week (see GreenHunter’s Wheeling Frack Wastewater Plant Up for Vote July 8). However, the Commission has once again tabled the vote–this time until August 12th.

The latest machinations from Wheeling and what’s holding up the vote this time:
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GreenHunter’s Wheeling Frack Wastewater Plant Up for Vote July 8

As MDN told you in early June, the Wheeling (WV) City Council delayed a vote to allow GreenHunter Water to begin construction of a new fracking wastewater recycling facility at a site in the Warwood section of Wheeling–along the Ohio River (see Wheeling Delays Vote on GreenHunter’s Frack Wastewater Plant). After an initial misstep by GreenHunter in not pre-briefing City Council members and the resulting bumpy relationship with some of them, it seems GreenHunter worked hard to address their concerns (see Wheeling Councilwoman Softens Stand Against Frack Wastewater Plant).

The Warwood wastewater recycling facility will once again be on City Council’s docket for a vote at their July 8 meeting:
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Wheeling Delays Vote on GreenHunter’s Frack Wastewater Plant

Wheeling, WV City Council decided at last night’s meeting to delay a vote for at least another month that would allow GreenHunter Water to begin construction of a new fracking wastewater recycling facility in the city at a site along the Ohio River (for background, see GreenHunter Buys Barge Terminal in Wheeling for Frack Wastewater). City Council members asked some pointed questions of GreenHunter last night.

The proceedings (and outcome) from last night’s meeting:
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“Wheeling Water Warriors” Oppose GreenHunter Wastewater Facility

You just have to marvel at the creativity of anti-drillers. Get a half dozen of them in a room and they’ll name themselves something funny and then pretend to have hundreds of followers. The media laps it up and amplifies it. Latest example: Anti-drillers who oppose a new fracking wastewater facility GreenHunter Water is proposing for Wheeling, WV. The “Wheeling Water Warriors” have formed to oppose the project. (We wonder if they have spandex uniforms with superhero capes to go along with the name?)
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GreenHunter Buys Barge Terminal in Wheeling for Frack Wastewater

Yesterday, GreenHunter Water announced they have purchased a 10.8 acre barge terminal site in Wheeling, WV that sits along the Ohio River. GreenHunter plans to convert the former gasoline storage facility into a shale wastewater handling and storage facility that will recycle wastewater so drillers can reuse it, or ship it by barge to other locations (like injection wells) for disposal. The GreenHunter announcement raises a number of questions and observations. MDN will add its analysis below.

First, the announcement from GreenHunter issued yesterday:

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Barging Shale Wastewater on Ohio River Back on the Radar

In a piece of stellar investigative journalism and reporting, MDN friend Bob Downing (at Kallanish Energy) has broken a story that barging Marcellus and Utica Shale wastewater (brine) on the Ohio River is once again under active consideration. Downing discovered applications recently filed with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build three barge terminals in Ohio, all of them located near injection wells to handle barged shale wastewater.
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Another Sad Day: GreenHunter Resources Files for Bankruptcy

greenhunter resourcesIn December we reported the sad news that Magnum Hunter Resources (MHR) finally had to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection (see Sad Day: Magnum Hunter Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy). MHR has a variety of subsidiary companies. One of those companies, Eureka Hunter (midstream/pipelines) has so far stayed out of bankruptcy court. But a sibling to Eureka Hunter, GreenHunter Resources (water and wastewater) has now succumbed. Yesterday GreenHunter issued a statement (below) that it and its myriad of (on paper) subsidiary companies have filed for “reorganization” under the Chapter 11 bankruptcy law. GreenHunter owns injection wells in both West Virginia and Ohio and was hoping to barge frack wastewater/brine to those wells as a cheap form of transportation. Last week the U.S. Coast Guard effectively put an end to that dream (see Coast Guard Caves to Political Pressure, No Wastewater Barging). Is it coincidence that GreenHunter has now filed for bankruptcy? Perhaps, but we’re suspicious. GreenHunter wouldn’t be the first company the Obama Administration has driven out of business…
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GreenHunter & USCG Argue over Barging, Homeland Security Reviews

Ohio River bargeGreenHunter Resources continues to aggressively push back against the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) with respect to barging brine from shale wells. Yesterday was the latest flare-up in the war of words between GreenHunter and the USCG. Once again GreenHunter COO Kirk Trosclair said the way they read the rules, they have permission under existing 1987 rules to barge it. And once again the USCG said no you don’t–not until we say you do. The latest twist is that the USCG says that brine might have high levels of radioactivity and so now the Dept. of Homeland Security is reviewing the whole matter. Which is a neat way of corrupting the issue–just claim there’s a national security issue and that shuts it all down. Still, GreenHunter is committed to begin barge shipments this year. However, we also learned yesterday that those shipments will not originate at GreenHunter’s proposed facility near Wheeling, WV…
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GreenHunter Releases 2014 Update, Plans to Barge Brine in 2015

GreenHunter Resources, the fresh water and wastewater subsidiary of Magnum Hunter Resources, reported their fiscal year 2014 and 2014 operating results yesterday–in both a press release (below) and an analyst phone call (excerpts below). MDN eagerly scoured the announcement and a transcript of the analyst call for mention of the ongoing controversy of barging brine down the Ohio River. GreenHunter is building and has nearly completed four new injection wells in Meigs County, OH. They plan to begin barging brine to those wells sometime this year, according to GreenHunter COO Kirk Trosclair. GreenHunter has a major/ongoing disagreement with the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) over whether or not guidelines issued in 1987 allow them to transport brine from shale wells (see GreenHunter Keeps Pressure on USCG to Barge Brine on Ohio River). While there’s no mention of the USCG or lack of a USCG permit, there was plenty of talk about barge operations beginning by the end of this year…
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GreenHunter Keeps Pressure on USCG to Barge Brine on Ohio River

GreenHunter Resources is keeping up the pressure on the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG)–essentially daring them to stop GreenHunter from proceeding with barging brine–or produced water–from shale wells down the Ohio River (see GreenHunter to Coast Guard, We’re Barging While You Fiddle Around). In new comments last week, GreenHunter’s Chief Operating Officer Kirk Trosclair reaffirmed his company is proceeding with its plan to begin barging from a facility in Wheeling, WV. Meanwhile, so-called “environmental” groups are organizing and joining forces with the Wheeling Water Warriors (Warriors, Warriors, Warriors…that’s an echo you hear for our superheros) to oppose GreenHunter from barging a substance that isn’t anywhere near as toxic as the chemicals that currently float down the river on barges every single day. Here’s what Trosclair said last week…
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GreenHunter to Coast Guard, We’re Barging While You Fiddle Around

fiddle aroundAs MDN chronicled on Friday, there is a dispute between GreenHunter Resources and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) over what, exactly, constitutes “oil field waste” (see GreenHunter/Coast Guard War of Words — MDN Explains It). If we might toot our own horn for a moment, we were the first to understand and share that understanding of the key issue, which is whether or not produced water (“brine”) from horizontal wells is essentially the same chemically as produced water from vertical-only wells. That is what GreenHunter and the USCG disagree about. GreenHunter says it is the same thing, and the USCG isn’t so sure. On Saturday, our interpretation of that key issue was confirmed by USCG statements–they remain concerned that low levels of radiation, which may or may not be present in produced water from horizontal wells, DOES make shale well produced water potentially different from regular old produced water from vertical wells…
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GreenHunter Faces Challenge to Get Wheeling Barge Facility OK’d

Yesterday MDN shared the big news that GreenHunter Resources has now received permission from the U.S. Coast Guard to haul produced water via barge down the Ohio River (see US Coast Guard Approves Brine Shipping via Barge on Ohio River). Today that assertion is in question (see our related story on the Coast Guard’s response). Aside from the question of whether the Coast Guard did or did not grant permission for barging of produced water, GreenHunter has another problem–getting permission to load the water onto barges in the first place at their facility in Wheeling, WV…
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