CASTANEA - After nearly two and a half hours of questions and concerns from about two dozen residents and business owners who packed the Castanea Township building last night, township supervisors unanimously approved allowing an Ohio company to build a wastewater treatment plant to support the Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling industry.
Patriot Water Treatment, LLC, of Lisbon, Ohio, plans to treat up to 300,000 gallons per day of "frac" water that is left from the drilling process at a plant to be built in and around the Economy Auto Parts warehouse at the corner of South Washington and Nestlerode streets, currently owned by Robert J. and Mary Rosemeier.
Most of the concerns from the public centered on the amount of truck traffic, noise and odor from the plant bordering the township and the City of Lock Haven.
SCOTT JOHNSON/THE EXPRESS
Looking at a zoning map showing where a new frac wastewater treatment facility will be built are, top, from left, Brad Aurand, senior engineer of JDM Consulting, Watsontown; Dustin Ryan, plant engineer, Fountain Quail Water Management, Granbury, Texas; and Andrew Blocksom, president, Patriot Water Treatment, LLC., Lisbon, Ohio. Above, about two dozen residents attended last night’s hearing.
In response, Supervisors Bonnie Poorman, Paul Jacobs and Charles Clukey, who voted in December to allow wastewater treatment plants as a conditional use, imposed conditions on Patriot, including:
n Installing a 10-foot chain-link fence around the property.
n Planting evergreen trees around the plant.
n Possible landscaping in front of the Lock Haven Dialysis Clinic, 257 S. Hanna St., to obstruct the view of trucks entering and exiting.
n Making sure trucks do not obstruct traffic.
n The firm will install extra sound-proof barriers, if needed, to insulate the nearby Economy Auto Parts store.
Andy Blocksom, president of Patriot Water, said his firm plans to have the facility operational as soon as the state Department of Environmental Protection approves required air quality permits.
"The timeframe would be as close to immediate as possible," Blocksom said. "We already have the equipment, we already have a team ready to go to work, and we look to hire local, as well."
He envisions the operation running 24 hours a day, seven days a week, employing up to 30 to 40 full-time people to support an industry that he believes will be around for the next 30 to 50 years.
Once fully operational, Blocksom said between 40 and 50 trucks could come through the facility daily, with a majority scheduled so as to not conflict with neighboring residents and businesses.
He said he was drawn to the site by Clinton County Commissioner Adam Coleman, and after further investigation, he said it was the solution to an "Easter egg hunt" in finding a suitable site to build the facility.
The land, Blocksom said, meets all the criteria, including zoning, access to a nearby highway (Route 220), a suitable vacant building, and having a nearby entity (the City of Lock Haven) being one of only a handful of municipalities in the state with an industrial waste treatment permit.
He explained to the packed house that "frac" water is needed to extract gas from the Marcellus Shale formation. In that process, however, the water is combined with a salt brine, sand and some naturally-occurring chemicals, which must be treated before re-use.
Other treatment plants take the sand and heavy metals out of the water and discharge it back into a sewage treatment plant, Blocksom said. His company's process instead distills the water before it is reused by the drilling companies.
"So instead of taking this valuable, limited resource ... We're going to take that water and give it back to companies to frac additionally, instead of dumping it down the drain," he said.
The salty water left over will then be trucked out of the Castanea site to injection wells in Ohio. Also, Blocksom noted the process will produce leftover sand and dirt, which could then compacted into cakes and stored in roll-off bins before being taken to an approved landfill.
Blocksom could not say if those cakes would be taken to the Wayne Township Landfill because its chemical composition would first have to be determined and contracts signed.
Also, because Lock Haven has an industrial waste treatment permit, the distilled water could be treated in the city's sewage treatment plant in emergencies.
"The positive thing is it can create a lot of jobs for the area and America producing its own energy for the benefit of Americans is what we're all about," Blocksom said. "This gives us the opportunity to provide energy to our own country without having to take the money and spend it abroad."
Brad Aurand, senior engineer for JDM Consulting, Watsontown, explained the distilled water would be stored in a large, lined outdoor "pond," and the footprint of the business will not create any additional stormwater concerns.
Dustin Ryan, plant engineer for Fountain Quail Water Management, Granbury, Texas, said the air quality permit is needed for diesel machines that will run the distillation process. In addition, he said, steam will escape from vents to control the pressure of the machinery inside the warehouse and can, at times, contain organic matter.
Concerning the water entering the building, Blocksom said it must first pass a four-step process to ensure safety
The first step would be to subject it to what he called a "lower explosive limit meter" to measure any volatiles in the water that could burn when going through the distillation process.
It would then go through a flash test to again make sure it will not burn. The third step is to determine how much salt is in the water. If there is too much salt, the shipment would instead be taken to the injection mines in Ohio. The fourth, and final test is to test for naturally-occurring radioactive materials. If there is too much of that material, the water would be shipped to Ohio, Blocksom said.
He said that process takes about seven minutes. He estimated each truck will take about 22 minutes to enter and exit the facility.
"We want to know exactly what we're getting so we're able to treat it effectively and safely," Blocksom said.
There were some concerns raised about traffic. Trucks would use the Walnut Street exit off of Paul Mack Boulevard, travel down East Walnut Street and take a right down South Washington Street. Departing trucks would take a right down Hanna Street, another right onto Creek Road, where they would go around the loop and onto Paul Mack Boulevard and Route 220.
Supervisor Poorman said she is concerned about the number of trucks going past the Lock Haven Dialysis Clinic.
"I'm in the healthcare field and for them to go there and see all those trucks go by... It's not healthy," she said.
Blocksom said his firm will plant landscaping buffers in front of the dialysis center, if needed. He said he believes the proposed traffic pattern will cause the least amount of problems for nearby residents and businesses.
"Do we want 30 to 50 jobs, or do we want another vacant building," he said. "We looked into it and it's the perfect spot with the least amount of impact. This is why we chose it."
Economy Auto Parts owner Dave Plessinger also questioned the impact traffic might have on his customers and employees. He also questioned the noise and smell that will be omitted from the plant.
Ryan said facilities such as this are located next to other businesses with no complaints on noise, but extra sound-proof walls can be added to further insulate the sound. Also, he said the smell is comparable to musty sea water, but should not be noticed by anyone outside the facility.
There were also some concerns about the condition of Washington Street. Blocksom said he couldn't comment on how much money the company will spend to upgrade that road, if needed, however, his firm will work with the township in whatever means necessary.
"We need to make it a win-win," he said. "If there's an issue with the road, then we'll obviously have to fix it and we'll work with (the township). There has to be flexibility on our part to work with you and, obviously, the neighboring businesses that are there."
Currently, Patriot is on a month-to-month lease with the Rosemeiers, pending the conditional-use approval. Blocksom said his firm plans to buy the building and make the company a "permanent" part of Clinton County.
In addition, he said the company is looking at building a similar plant near State College, to go along with one in the works in Owego, N.Y.
A township resident asked what would happen to the property if the treatment plant is not profitable.
Solicitor Paul Ryan said, according to the approved ordinance regulating the plant, at completion the company must restore the area, as reasonably as possible, to its original condition.