Clearwater Facility idled for evaluation

WEST UNION — Antero Resources has idled its Clearwater Facility at Greenwood near the Ritchie-Doddridge county line for evaluation purposes.

Al Schopp, Antero Chief Administrative Officer and regional senior vice president, said Friday the Antero Clearwater facility had been idle since Monday to conduct a cost effectiveness evaluation. No timeline has been determined for how long the facility will remain idle, he said.

The facility treats water used in fracturing gas wells.

“There is no water currently going to the plant,” he said of the facility which has been operating for nearly two years.

Schopp said the evaluation is being conducted due to the current low commodity price environment. The company is looking at all options to determine the most cost-effective way to conduct operations. Those options include resumption of the water cleaning efforts at the facility, blending with fresh water and reusing or trucking with water to injection wells.

The shutdown will not affect Antero jobs, but subcontractors would have to make their own staffing decisions, he said.

“There will be a very small impact, if any (on jobs),” Schopp said.

The shutdown has been met with some concern. Don Jackson, with Friends of the Hughes Watershed environmental group, said the shutdown of the plant means more fracturing waste water will be taken to injection wells.

The organization was hopeful when the plant opened there would be less reliance on the use of injection wells where the water used in the fracking operations is pumped underground, Jackson said.

“That’s got to be a plus,” he said.

The fear with returning the water is its impact on the environment. Among contaminants are radioactive materials that while naturally occurring underground at a deep depth are not natural after being disturbed and raised to the surface by humans.

West Virginia has a handful of injection wells. Ohio has numerous injection wells where the waste is taken, Jackson said.

“They are everywhere in Ohio,” he said.

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has not released or closed out any permits issued to the Antero Clearwater facility in Doddridge County, nor has Antero reached out to the agency regarding the closure or termination of any permits, Terry Fletcher, acting communications director for the state Department of Environmental Protection, said Friday.

“Antero must still comply with all the terms in the permits issued to them, regardless of if the facility is idle or in full operation,” he said. “The WVDEP will continue to conduct routine inspections of the facility to ensure all the terms of Antero’s permits are being met.”