MARIETTA - The fine, powdery "fracking" sand being stored at the former Remington Rand industrial site on Greene Street in Marietta is being investigated again after a city councilman recently filed a complaint about the substance with the Marietta Health Department.
"I was driving down Vine Street one day (in April) and at the intersection with Greene Street I could see a small pile of the sand near the facility being pulled up into the air by the wind," said 1st Ward Councilman Roger Kalter.
Mounds of the sand, used in the hydraulic fracturing of shale beds to release underground oil and gas deposits, are being stored inside the building.
Photo by Sam Shawver
Bob Tebay runs his finger through light-colored dust on a window sill of his Phillips Street home. The back side of Tebay’s house faces the former Remington Rand complex property where piles of sand used in the shale hydraulic fracturing process are stored.
Kalter said residents in the area have expressed some concern that they're breathing in the dust-like airborne silica sand particles.
"So, on April 10 I filled out a nuisance complaint with the health department on behalf of people who live in that neighborhood," he said.
Kelly Miller, sanitarian with the city health department, said because Kalter's concern was an air quality issue the complaint was forwarded to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency's Division of Air Quality.
At A Glance
Fracking sand problems continue in the Norwood area.
Marietta Councilman Roger Kalter, D-1st Ward, recently filed a complaint with the city health department, stating concerns that shale hydraulic fracturing sand being stored in the former Remington Rand building on Greene Street could be a health hazard if the fine sand particles become airborne and are breathed in by area residents.
The issue has been turned over to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency for investigation.
"Air quality issues are out of the city health department's hands," she said.
Ohio EPA spokesman Mike Settles said the concerns will be investigated, although an agency representative has visited the site within the past week and observed no violations of the storage facility's air quality permit standards.
He said the permit for the Greene Street facilities includes two standards related to the sand becoming airborne.
"One is for material storage piles, which says visible dust emissions escaping from a pile of material are only allowed for a total of one minute every hour," Settles said. "The other standard addresses visible emissions from an unpaved roadway that cannot exceed three minutes every hour."
Tanker and extended-bed dump trucks have been hauling sand into the facility and away from the site seven days a week for the past couple of years, although the initial 24/7 operations have slacked off a bit recently, according to Richard Gessel, part owner of Iddings Trucking in Marietta.
The company's trucks haul sand to and from the former Remington Rand complex, which is owned by local businessman John Lehman.
"With today's gas prices we're not seeing as much activity now," Gessel said. "Also the sand's not currently being used as much as it was in the past."
He said truck drivers are responsible for sweeping up any sand that's spilled at the storage facility.
The vehicles also track the material onto city streets where it's picked up by the city street sweeper.
Streets department foreman Todd Stockel said the Greene Street area generally receives a regular sweeping every Monday, but city crews have been called out on other days and evenings for extra sweeping if the sand starts building up on streets and creating a potential traffic hazard.
"We haven't been called out lately, but last year we did get called four or five times," he said, adding that the trucking company is billed for the unscheduled street sweepings.
Many area residents have been dealing with dust from the sand since the material began to be stored at the complex.
"When it rains the sand runs down onto our street and you can see it along the curbs," said Tim Tolle, who lives on Phillips Street near the intersection with Acme Street in Norwood.
He also expressed concern for some older folks living in the neighborhood who may be dealing with health issues.
Roberta Greathouse lives several houses west of Tolle on Phillips Street. Although she hasn't noticed any dust from the sand at her home, she did have some concerns.
"I have a clothesline in the back yard and wouldn't want any sand to get on my clothes," she said. "I also have some allergies."
Across the street, Bob Tebay said he's lived in the neighborhood for 45 years.
"Last summer we could see white dust on the glass table tops on the back porch, especially when it was dry," he said. "Depending on the weather I might have to clean off the dust every two weeks or so."
Tebay also said he's seen the white sandy material flowing along Phillips Street after a rain.
Judi Snyder lives in a unit on the backside of the Morningside Apartments complex just off Phillips Street. Her apartment faces the rear of the complex where the sand is stored.
"I've had a lot more dust inside the apartment, and when the windows are open at night I often hear a lot of noise from that area," she said. "It sounds like the bed of a dump truck is being shaken after it dumps its load."
Kalter said other residents have also reported hearing the noise of trucks and machinery coming from the storage facility on some nights.
As for the complaint he filed with the health department, Settles said the issue would be under investigation.
"We'll be looking into it," he said.
In June 2011, the Ohio EPA sent Iddings Trucking a warning letter that the company could face a $25,000 per day fine for dragging the sand onto city streets and not cleaning it up and the company complied.