Tri-C Ballfields center of study

WASHINGTON, W.Va. – A cultural resources survey will be done at the Tri-C Ballfields where a multi-billion-dollar ethane cracker may be located.

The ballfields are located near the SABIC plant in Washington Bottom, the site being considered for the development of the cracker, three polyethylene plants and associated infrastructure for water treatment and energy co-generation by Odebrecht. The proposed complex is called ASCENT, which stands for Appalachian Shale Cracker Enterprise.

If the ethane cracker project moves forward, it could represent a $4 billion investment in the area. It would be operated by Braskem America. Officials have been meeting with local and state officials on various aspects of the project for months.

The company is in the early stages of a feasibility study to evaluate if the factors are in place for the project to move forward.

Odebrecht and Braskem spokesman Chuck Glazer said the cultural resources survey is required by law.

“The cultural resources survey is a standard procedure on a development project of this type and is completed under the guidance of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the West Virginia Historical Preservation Office,” he said. “There are not any specific items that are targeted in these surveys.”

The survey will begin within the next several weeks, he said. It is a combination of research and fieldwork to identify resources and define site boundaries within a given project area, according to the Guidelines for Phase I, II and III Archaeological Investigations and Technical Report Preparation prepared by the West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office.

Glazer said the survey will be a Phase I Survey.

Phase I fieldwork can consist of a number of methods including pedestrian survey, excavation of shovel test probes, remote sensing and deep testing of appropriate landscapes, according to the guidelines.

As shown in the guidelines, the phased approach provides three levels – identifying sites where historical artifacts may be present; evaluating those sites for further action if warranted; and managing the sites or mitigating impacts if deemed necessary, Glazer said.

“We will be conducting a pedestrian or ‘walk-over’ survey of the agricultural fields in the project area after they have been plowed and disked, scanning the field to look for artifacts and other signs of interest,” he said. “In areas that cannot be plowed, we will excavate shovel test pits, screening soil through wire mesh to look for artifacts.”

If anything is found there are specific procedures that must be followed in a cultural resources survey.

“It is too early to speculate on additional work that might be required based on the first steps of that process,” Glazer said.

The Wood County Commission has discussed moving the ballfields to another location should Project ASCENT move forward.

“Local officials are taking a lead role in relocating the athletic fields currently on the property to another site, and Odebecht is supporting their efforts,” Glazer said. “The sports facilities will be available for use during the 2014 season.”