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Wheeling frackwater recycler clears first hurdle

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By Kelsey Kennedy

WTRF-TV

WHEELING, WV — The Wheeling Planning Commission voted Aug. 12 to approve GreenHunter Energy's site plan for a water treatment plant to recycle water used in hydraulic fracturing for gas wells.

GreenHunter's Vice President, John Jack, says the "yes" vote was expected. He was confident the commission would approve the site plan.

"I was undoubtedly pretty confident that we were going to pass it today," he said. "We complied with all of their requirements, all of the state agencies, and documentation, so I don't think they had any other reservations than to vote yes."

Getting to this point hasn't been easy for GreenHunter. The company met strong resistance from the Wheeling Water Warriors, who have numerous concerns about a waste water treatment facility in their neighborhood.

Jack said educating the community about what is company does is a never-ending process that he plans to continue in Wheeling. The next step for the company is to file a building permit application, he said.

GreenHunter Water plans to put its facility in the Warwood section of Wheeling. It bought an out-of-use industrial property, and it will invest $1.7 million and employ 15 for construction and 12 permanently.

A subsidiary of GreenHunter Energy out of Grapevine, Texas, GHW was formed 2011 to take advantage of the anticipated need for water-related services for unconventional oil and gas. GHE is a sister company to Magnum Hunter Resources Corp., which is the parent of producer Triad Hunter and pipeline company Eureka Hunter that operate locally.

GHW's operation in Appalachia has grown quickly. The company has acquired or developed eight underground injection wells in Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia with an injection capacity of 13,000 barrels per day, or bpd — two of those in Ritchie County, W.Va. — and has a fleet of water transport trucks of about 30, according to recent reports.

The company offers services that include hauling, storage, processing, disposal and tracking under the Total Water Management Solutions trademark.

In March, GHW announced it had acquired an industrial-zoned property and a barge loading facility in Wheeling. The property is the former Seidler's Oil Service at North 28th Street in the northern strip of the city that lies along the Ohio River, with an adjacent barge terminal.

The company plans to convert the existing 11,000-square foot warehouse into a 10,000-bpd waste fluids processing facility and to build up to 19,000 barrels of tank storage.

The treatment technology is a "vibration separation nano-filtration" system, according to GHE President and CEO Jonathan Hoopes, to remove suspended solids from gasfield brine — flowback that returns to the surface during hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," and produced water that comes up during gas production — and would produce three streams of output.