Chesapeake Advisory Panel Discusses Issues
The Chesapeake Community Advisory Panel had their third meeting at the Mollohan Center on May 28, with many community leaders, EMS volunteers, Wetzel County Sheriff, transportation director of Wetzel County Schools, and landowners present.
Stacey Brodak, manager of Corporate Development of Chesapeake, was present as well as Jennifer Goddard, senior consultant of Ann Green Communications, and Ryan Dean of Chesapeake.
Brodak talked about the coverage of the incident on May 20 in the newspapers and media regarding six workers on a Chesapeake drilling rig. She said all of those affected were released and only one was sent to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown. He also was released.
She said George Couch, chief executive officer of Wetzel County Hospital, handled the situation really well and he did a lot of extra steps. She continued, saying Chesapeake was really pleased with WCH and appreciated what they did.
Brodak explained that there was no explosion or fire as some may of heard. It dealt with a battery that faulted and the lithium vapors came out. She explained that the battery is used in a casing unit that goes underground.
Brodak admitted the roads in Wetzel County and were in “pretty bad shape.” She explained that they are working with the West Virginia Department of Transportation and it has taken a little longer than they like, but there are a series of steps involved in communication with the DOT.
She further explained that Chesapeake has contracted for the repairs with a company and work should be underway. It consists of eight miles including Brock Ridge Road and state Route 89. She mentioned that the DOT will be running a press release soon about the road repair. She asked people living in that area to plan ahead for road construction as there will be delays.
Brodak emphasized that the DOT estimated it might take up to three weeks for the repair work, she mentioned that Chesapeake does estimate it might take a little longer.
In other comments, Brodak went over some of the handout sheets given to those present involving methane and landowner’s water wells.
She described that this was a common issue including abandoned coal mines, swamps, and landfills. She explained to the panel the West Virginia regulations pertaining to drilling practices. She commented that the public needs to be aware to make sure their water wells are vented.
School bus safety was another issue that Brodak addressed during the meeting, noting that “absolutely school bus safety is number one” with Chesapeake. She continued stating that Chesapeake has been in contact with the Wetzel County Board of Education and has a voluntary agreement with them. This includes not having trucks on the road the same time the school buses are on their route.
Brodak noted there have been a few school bus incidents noted on Ray Renuad’s Wetzel County Action Group Web site, but those incident reports are always reported to Brian Jones, Wetzel County Transportation Director.
The past winter and the road conditions did cause some problems for the trucks drivers, stated Brodak, which in turn caused delays in the school bus arriving home on time and she understood the concerns of the parents when there is a delay of any kind.
Recognizing this, she noted Chesapeake asks their operation crews for any ideas to ensure the school bus safety. Brodak went on explaining that a pilot vehicle is now used in front of the school bus on the morning and evening route.
Chesapeake bought and installed CB radios for school buses sharing the same road with the drivers of these big rig trucks. This way it allows for communication between buses and the large trucks, Brodak explained.
Jones told the Advisory Panel that school bus safety is very important. He realized that not only are there buses on these roads traveling with these big equipment trucks, but also students driving to and from school.
“We all need to work together; Chesapeake met with us and brought things to our attention,” said Jones. He said that the Wetzel County Board of Education will continue to work with Chesapeake. He mentioned that Chesapeake was supplied with the bus routes and bus schedules.
“Please feel comfortable to call us (Wetzel County Board of Education) with any other concerns, by calling (304) 455-2441 and my extension is 111,” stated Jones.
He also mentioned that Chesapeake offered to put in seat belts in the school buses, but he said they would have to retro fit every bus seat and they would lose their holding capacity of how many students could be on the buses if this was done. He explained the buses were full now and this option would not have worked because they would have lost the seating capacity.
David Durig, landowner, mentioned to the panel, “A lot of kids are near the the roads when school is out for the summer and people need to watch out for them.” He went on explaining that they will run after a ball, cat, or a dog across the road and drivers need to be on the watch for this.”
Brodak mentioned they were told that this is also tractor season and “we need to look out for this also.”
Site visits to drilling rigs was another topic discussed at the meeting for advisory panel members, so they could get a better understanding of the drilling operations.
Rose Baker, panel member, asked if they would do a site visit on a day when Chesapeake is moving equipment on the roads.
“I would like for the other people to see all the oversized trailers on the road when they come out to a site visit,” requested Baker. Brodak mentioned because of safety issues, that might not happen.
Goddard said the site tours are an educational process, but she stated the roads to the drilling rigs are always open for the public to drive out and take a look at the drilling sites.
Safety was brought up at the meeting. Rose Baker, member of Silverhill Action Group, mentioned Renuad has a presentation that is very eye opening. “He is in Pittsburgh today giving the presentation,” stated Baker.
Jim Colvin, of Grandview EMS, brought to the attention to Brodak and those present that the local rescue units need to see the locations of the drilling rigs in case of an emergency and EMS units need to respond. Brodak responded by saying, “There are benefits to that.” A building of a landing zone for a medical helicopter was also brought up at the meeting and might be discussed more in a next meeting.
The next scheduled meeting of the Chesapeake Community Advisory Panel will on June 25 at the Wetzel County Center for Families and Children. Those interested in learning more information about the advisory panel may call Jennifer Goddard at Ann Green Communication at 1-800-784-4343.