March 10, 2010

A conditional use public hearing was held by the Lawrence Township Planning Commission last night in regard to an appeal submitted by Hydro Recovery LP.

The company is planning on operating a light manufacturing facility along Airport Road. More specifically, the facility will treat water used for hydraulic fracturing in Marcellus shale gas wells. The only problem the planners had with the plans from Hydro Recovery was a 40-foot frontage, which has been changed to 50 feet.

David Hedrick of Hydro Recovery LP and Steven Beattie of Herbert, Roland & Grubic Inc. engineers attended the meeting to answer questions and concerns of the board and the public. No members of the public attended the meeting.

Hedrick explained the frac water used in the drilling process will be brought to this plant, recycled or "cleaned" and then sent back to other drilling sites. He said the plant would receive both truckloads of water and water through a pipeline. The water, which is referred to as hydraulic stimulation fluid, will be conditioned through a special process to take out contaminating chemicals.

"We believe it's a perfect site for this type of use," Beattie said. Currently the company is constructing a similar plant in Blossburg and if that plant is successful, construction will begin on the plant in Lawrence Township in one to two years.

Initially, the plant will be able to accept 25 trucks per day, or 150,000 gallons of water per day. The second phase of the project would double the capacity of the plant, but not double the footprint of the plant.

Beattie said the plant would employ about 12 people, not counting the truck drivers and mechanics, and would be a viable operation for many years. This is because after a well is fractured the water continues to come out for many years and often wells are re-fractured later.

Commission member Joyce Shirey asked how far away the trucks would come from, and Hedrick said the farthest distance would be 120 minutes away. He said that is the most cost-effective distance. Hydro Recovery expects to construct more plants as more Marcellus shale sites go up, and other companies are also constructing recovery plants.

The plant would cost approximately $10 million and would take about five to six months to construct. Currently, full production at Blossburg is expected at the end of the year, and then the company will look at the Lawrence Township site.

After the public hearing, the regular board meeting convened and it voted to accept the conditional use appeal and send the matter onto the supervisors for their approval. The Lawrence Township Supervisors will hold a public hearing next week prior to their regular meeting on the Hydro Recovery proposal.

The next Lawrence Township Planning Commission meeting is April 13 at 7 p.m. in the township building.

From The Progress
Wendy B. Lynn