NEW MATAMORAS-Area residents voiced their concerns and asked questions at a Thursday evening public forum about a proposed waste solidification station that would be built in New Matamoras.
About 40 people at New Matamoras Elementary School listened to Thursday's informational session, which included presentations by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Civil & Environmental Consultants, Inc. and Weavertown Transport Leasing, which currently owns the property.
Among those in attendance, several voiced concerns and posed questions during the nearly three-hour meeting. Others simply wanted to learn more about the proposed facility, which would be located at 50810 State Route 7.
"I'm just interested in seeing what they have to say, and better understanding what they do," said Washington County Commissioner Cora Marshall.
The station, which would accept, process and store waste transported from neighboring states until it could be moved to a landfill, has sparked a much more passionate response among some area residents.
Many residents voiced concern that the plant would be accepting materials transported by barge on the Ohio River and therefore risk polluting the water.
At a glance
- For more information about the solid waste permitting process, go to www.epa.ohio.gov/dsiwm
- To contact the Southeast District Office of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency call (740) 385-8501 or visit www.epa.ohio.gov/sedo
- To learn more about Weavertown Transport Leasing, visit http://www.weavertown.com/
- Maps and other informational materials have been made available at the New Matamoras Library
GreenHunter Energy, Inc. currently leases a portion of the land for storage, and does use the river to transport hydraulic fracturing flowback water to the location, according to a statement from the company.
While the facility will accept byproducts of hydraulic fracturing or "fracking," Weavertown Transport Leasing Vice President Daryl Heiser assured those at the meeting that Weavertown's proposed plant would only accept materials transported by trucks.
The increased truck traffic was an additional concern of local residents.
"How many trucks a day do you expect?" New Matamoras resident Virginia Smeltzer, 72, asked Heiser.
Because the plant is in the early planning stages, Heiser did not have an exact answer but ventured that the maximum would be one truck per hour.
Weavertown Transport Leasing has already filed a permit application with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, that if approved will allow them to begin building the facility, said Ohio EPA representative Mark Mansfield.
However, some area residents are hoping to halt the process.
"This is going to affect everyone who lives by any of these landfills, injection wells or waste facilities," said Elisa Young of Meigs County.
Though Young lives in a neighboring county, she noted that the plant's proposed location on the river will affect anyone who lives downstream.
New Matamoras resident Amber Hendershot, 31, shares a property line with Weavertown Transport Leasing. Hendershot has three young sons who frequently play outdoors.
"I think we are too close for comfort. I do not want to live next to that," she said.
Other attendees expressed concerns such as increased traffic, noise pollution and the long term health and environmental risks.
For many questions, Heiser pointed to a similar facility which Weavertown Transport Leasing has been operating in McDonald, Pa. for 20 years. That plant has had a positive impact on its community, said Heiser.
"We want to be a good neighbor to everyone here," said Heiser.
The plant could also have a positive economic impact on the economy as it is expected to employee between 12 and 20 people.
"We want them all to be local," said Heiser.
The Ohio EPA will be have a public comment period before the application is finally approved. However, the EPA can not reject the permit application based on public opinion, said Mansfield.
Ruth Partin and her daughter Debra, of Monroe County, attend and film many of the local meetings and public forums that breech the subject of hydraulic fracking, a drilling process that involves shattering rock thousands of feet underground with a combination of water, sand and chemicals.
Anyone who would like a DVD of Thursday's meeting can contact them by by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (740) 934-2881.