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Frack waste recycler wants to install river barge loading facility in Ferry

Public comment deadline is April 30

SHOWN HERE is the 4K Industrial Park’s fracking waste recycling facility in Martins Ferry. The company has applied for a permit to build a barge loading facility, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. T-L Photo/SHELLEY HANSON

Public comment deadline is April 30

By SHELLEY HANSON

Times Leader Staff Writer

MARTINS FERRY — A facility where waste from the fracking industry is recycled wants to install a barge loading facility along the Ohio River in Martins Ferry.

According to a public notice, 4K Industrial Park, Martins Ferry, has applied with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a permit “to construct a barge loading and off-loading waterfront facility. The facility will be receiving fluids from the Gas and Oil markets for processing, to reuse the fluids for drilling operations or to be sent to a disposal facility.”

The notice describes the scope of the structure proposed:

“The applicant proposes to secure a 195 foot x 35 foot spud barge approximately 25 feet off the riverbank and will be used for securing tank barges alongside for loading and off-loading operations. The spud barge will be anchored with two, 2′ x 50′ spuds and secured to the riverbank at each end with a 20-inch dead men chains. The total mooring width, from the face of the river bank extending riverward will be approximately 100 feet wide by 200 feet in length. For safety purposes the applicant proposes to place approximately four, 20-inch diameter steel pipe dead men, for barge deflection, to protect the downstream marina. The steel pipes will be placed approximately 80 feet downstream (south end), of the spudded barge and spaced approximately 20 feet from center point to center of each other, extending river ward and will be driven into the river bottom.

“On top of the riverbank near the spudded barge, the applicants propose to construct a 240 feet long elevated catwalk. The elevated catwalk will be supported by 24, 12-inch diameter pipe pilings. The catwalk will then support a doubled walled 10-inch diameter pipe coming from the existing water storage area, located approximately 600 feet from the waterfront. After the transiting tank barge is secured to the spudded barge, a transfer hose from the barge is then connected to the 10-inch pipe, along the catwalk, transferring the fluid to the existing water storage area.”

George Brkovich, waterways inspector with the Army Corps of Engineers, Pittsburgh, confirmed that the deadline to submit public comments on the application is April 30. The notice also states that a person can request a public hearing be held on the matter.

To submit comments about the proposed structure, people can email Brkovich at george.r.brkovich@usace.army.mil and refer to “CELRP-RG 2020-78” in all responses. People can also call 412-395-7247, but Brkovich said since he is working from home during the coronavirus pandemic, it is best to email.

The Army Corps notice also states a separate permit from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency will be considered by the OEPA. However, Brkovich said he did not have information regarding OEPA permits and referred questions to that agency.

“Ohio EPA has not yet received an application for a water quality certification related to 4K Industrial’s March 30, 2020, filing with the Army Corps of Engineers,” OEPA spokesman Anthony Chenault said.

4K Industrial officials could not be reached Wednesday for comment.

4K Industrial is owned by the Mull Group of Wheeling. According to the company’s website, “4K Advanced Technologies is capable of producing water quality ranging from maximum removal, to mutually agreed to levels designed to meet your strict water quality standards and cost requirements.”

Lea Harper, managing director of the FreshWater Accountability Project, said she has concerns about the proposed barge facility and the existing recycling facility. She believes an in-person public hearing should be held when coronavirus-related restrictions on gatherings have been lifted.

“A new facility should absolutely not be permitted until the regulations are back to normal,” she said.

Some of Harper’s other concerns include possible spills and leaks into the Ohio River and surrounding property. She also is concerned about air quality.

“There are open tanks at the 4K Industrial site currently. What are they holding? Is it radioactive? Is it laden with chemicals that can volatilize into the atmosphere and cause health impacts to the nearby community?

“How would the additional operations with the barging processes and filling/emptying the tanks, etc., cause additional impacts? As the tanks fill, do chemicals and radioactivity get released into the air?” she said.

Harper said she was provided a copy of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit application notice by someone who lives in West Virginia.

Brkovich said such notices are posted electronically, and he does not believe it was published in a newspaper.

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