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Area Residents Check Out ‘Fracking Facts’ At Library

By Staff | May 18, 2011

Heavy truck traffic and the roaring of compressor motors are some of the challenges awaiting those living in areas with active natural gas drilling.

“You’ve got these huge diesel motors roaring all the time,” said Wetzel County Action Group member Ed Wade of the motors found at gas compressor stations in his county.

Wade and fellow group members Bill Hughes and Steve Conlon spoke to about 50 people last Thursday during the Ohio County Public Library’s first “Fracking Facts” session. With Marcellus Shale drilling becoming more prevalent in Ohio and Brooke counties after beginning in Wetzel County about four years ago, Wade, Hughes and Conlon said Ohio County residents can expect to see more changes.

“As long as the rig is drilling, the trucks are running,” Wade said, noting many trucks carry huge tanks of water, sand and chemicals, while others carry compressor engines, pipe or other materials.

“These roads are very narrow and are just not made for this type of traffic,” Hughes added, noting his wife now refuses to drive on the roads.

When there is a traffic accident involving a gas company truck, the rural road may be shut down for hours, Hughes said, leaving those who need to use the road out of luck.

Hughes said after the actual drilling process, gas companies need to use as much as 5 million gallons of water to frack the wells. Wade said some drillers will install waterlines to pump water to the sites for fracking, rather than truck all of it to the well.

“It is a plus in minimizing the traffic of the trucks by using the water line,” he said.

Hughes said the natural gas liquids – ethane, propane, butane and pentane – found in the area’s gas are “very valuable and also very explosive.”

“These are rolling bombs when the tanker trucks haul out the condensate,” he said.

Chesapeake Energy is the most active driller in the Ohio Valley, having already drilled and fracked many wells in the area, with plans to complete similar work at multiple other sites. Company representatives will make a public presentation at 7 p.m. June 9 at the library. Chesapeake spokeswoman Jacque Bland attended the meeting, noting she was glad to be on hand to help address questions and concerns from those in the audience.

Wade noted Chesapeake has worked to help improve the situation in Wetzel County by providing road security and school bus escorts.

Library Director Dottie Thomas said the library is hoping to “frack the facts” with its series of meetings.

The action group will hold a second presentation at the library at 7 p.m. May 26 titled, “Challenges and Suggestions.” This program will focus on the economic, social, and environmental issues raised by activities related to gas drilling.