Wed09172014

Last updateThu, 19 Nov 2015 8pm

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Fracking issues to get airing in King George

Residents in King George clearly expect fracking issues to be at the forefront of public discussion during 2014.

Resident Mary Trout commented on the topic during the Dec. 17 meeting of the Board of Supervisors, which spawned remarks from several elected officials, all expressing concerns.

Trout raised the issue of how hydraulic fracturing – fracking – might affect landowners on private roads should natural gas mining take place on neighboring property. She also raised the issue of noise from the industrial activity and noted that environmental and legal issues need to be considered.

Hydrofracking is a process whereby chemicals and water are forced deep into the ground to fracture the shale rock strata to release natural gas. This fracking process consumes large amounts of water, and the chemicals can pollute aquifers. King George’s entire water supply is dependent on wells fed from underground aquifers.

Trout said she was pursuing arrangements for a town meeting to be held in King George by the Friends of the Rappahannock, which had co-sponsored recent meetings in Caroline and Westmoreland Counties, drawing more than 250 interested residents.

She stated, “I really want King George to take this seriously.”

James Madison Supervisor Joe Grzeika responded during his board member report, telling Trout that the board has directed the county attorney, “To pull all ordinances regulations and look into the authorities that the state has allowed the localities to have.” Grzeika added, “And we’ll be entertaining bringing others.”

County attorney Eric Gregory’s report has been tentatively set to take place during the board meeting on Jan. 21.

Grzeika noted that that the two main agencies involved at the state level are the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), saying their regulations would be reviewed, as the county explores the issues.

Grzeika stated, “I know we all worry about it and I’m still in the exploration and understanding time and doing a little bit of analysis and trying to sort out reality to get the science. I’m concerned about the aquifer, which is the water that we all depend on and drink. And so that’s the primary focus area and one that we have to guard at all expense. So, we’re going to have to take a look at that. But I want to understand all of the issues before I take a formal position.”

Shiloh Supervisor Cedell Brooks said he planned to hold a town meeting in the Shiloh District in the New Year, “to talk about this to show how it affects all of us.”

Dahlgren Supervisor Ruby Brabo distributed a handout to board members suggesting language that might be inserted into the county’s Comprehensive Plan. She also said that the president of Shore Exploration, which is actively pursuing leases for mineral rights in the region, had suggested that his company could practice nitrogen fracking.

Online sources indicate that nitrogen and liquefied propane gas (LPG) are a couple of the alternative fluids in newer technology using little or no water in the shale fracturing process, with or without the use of additional chemicals. But online sources provide conflicting analysis about potential environmental effects.

At-Large Supervisor Dale Sisson, the outgoing chairman, wound up the topic, saying, “Fracking is certainly something we need to be concerned about and educated about, and we need to pay attention to the facts. There’s a lot of discussion going on, making assumptions that don’t involve the facts. So, our job is to get all that first.”

He reiterated an upcoming expected report from Gregory. He also added that he expected Gregory to provide information about, “What the special exception process dictates relative to allowing such a thing in King George.” Sisson added, “But we may need to tighten those things up, too. We’ve been working with Margaret Ransone to get try to the director of DMME here.”

Sisson added, “But I really want to emphasize that we really need to stick to the facts.

 

Phyllis Cook 

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