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DEP Still Reviewing Applications

October 1, 2012
By CASEY JUNKINS - Staff Writer , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

TRIADELPHIA - West Virginia regulators are still considering Chesapeake Energy's application to emit carbon monoxide, methane, formaldehyde and other chemicals from the Dytko natural gas site on Stone Church Road.

But this is just one of the many sites from which the company is seeking to release such emissions. Chesapeake issued three additional legal advertisements recently for the same emissions at three other drilling pads.

"This is really rough on people, especially those who live close by to them," said Wheeling Jesuit University biology professor Ben Stout. "When they are flaring off all that stuff, it has to come down somewhere."

Article Photos

Photo by Casey Junkins
As the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Air Quality evaluates Chesapeake Energy’s application to release pollution from the Dytko natural gas drilling site, Chesapeake is seeking similar permits for sites throughout Ohio County.

Following the Sept. 11 public hearing on the application for the Dytko site, West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Air Quality Director John Benedict said he would take the concerns of Stout and others who spoke out at the meeting into consideration. DEP spokesman Thomas Aluise said Chesapeake's application had not yet been approved, noting next month would be the earliest time for approval.

"Well, at least the DEP is going to look at it," said Stout. "They will probably still approve it, but at least they are taking a look."

Chesapeake, in multiple legal advertisements, has confirmed the "potential to discharge" various amounts of these materials on an annual basis from the operations at the compressor stations: carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, methane, carbon dioxide equivalent, benzene, xylenes, toluene and formaldehyde.

The company's most recent filings include properties in the name of Hubbard at a drilling pad east of Wellsburg; in the name of Ryniawec at a drilling pad near West Liberty; and in the name of Ratcliffe at a drilling pad near GC&P Road in Ohio County.

In addition to the pollution from the well sites, Chesapeake - the only active Marcellus Shale driller in Ohio, Brooke or Hancock counties - also will release similar emissions from its local compressor stations. One of these is just off the Interstate 70 Dallas Pike exit near The Highlands, while another is in the Sand Hill area near the Marshall/Ohio County border. The "potential to emit" amounts of sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and other chemicals that may be released at the sites can vary, according to numerous legal advertisements posted by Chesapeake.

However, because the DEP's air quality division does not measure the cumulative environmental impact of Chesapeake's multiple sites throughout Ohio County, regulators evaluate each individual site on its own - without regard to how much pollution nearby similar well pads, compressor stations, processing plans or trucks will release.

Chesapeake Senior Director of Corporate Development Stacey Brodak has said the company trusts the DEP's regulatory process, noting she believes the agency will do what is needed to keep the air safe.

Dr. Michael Blatt, a physician specializing in respiratory disease, has also spoken out against the air pollution - specifically at the Dytko pad because he lives on Stone Church Road.

"I just think there is enough reason for concern to object," he said.

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