2013-02-16 / Front Page

Water treatment facility gets green light

Ulysses Twp. development could be operational by summer


Engineer Tom McElhaney, hired to help Ulysses Twp. supervisors scrutinize plans for the development of a wastewater treatment facility, said REVH2O’s project plans were ‘excellent.’ Engineer Tom McElhaney, hired to help Ulysses Twp. supervisors scrutinize plans for the development of a wastewater treatment facility, said REVH2O’s project plans were ‘excellent.’ Construction of a $3.7 million wastewater treatment facility in Ulysses Township could begin soon.

Township supervisors Wednesday night gave conditional, preliminary approval to the facility being proposed by REVH20 of Pittsford, N.Y.

Roughly 50 people turned out for the meeting, many hoping to persuade supervisors to delay action on the facility until it could be further scrutinized. The large crowd forced supervisors to move the meeting from the Potter County Solid Waste Authority offifices to the Tri-Town Fire Dept. hall.

Citing a conflflict of interest, Jim Hoopes, chairman of the board of supervisors, abstained from the vote. Both Marc Bennett and Dick Erickson voted in favor of preliminary approval, based on a recommendation from Tom McElhaney, a design engineer the supervisors hired to assist them in reviewing the project.


David Kailbourne, a representative of REVH2O, said his company’s wastewater treatment facility will create good, local jobs and also ease the burden natural gas drilling has on the area’s water sources by providing the industry with recycled water. David Kailbourne, a representative of REVH2O, said his company’s wastewater treatment facility will create good, local jobs and also ease the burden natural gas drilling has on the area’s water sources by providing the industry with recycled water. McElhaney, who called the project’s engineering documents “as good as we’ve ever reviewed,” and the project “excellent all around,” advised supervisors to grant approval under the condition that REVH20:

• Provide supervisors with a copy of the reclamation bond.

• Address any additional questions or concerns made by statecertifified construction inspector Jay Erb.

• Provide to supervisors data on chemicals being found in the water when it arrives.

• Continue to work with Tri- County Fire Dept. and other emergency responders to help them understand the facility and how it operates.

REVH2O has already put up a $1.8 million reclamation bond that’s being held by the state. The funds would be used in the event of a hazardous waste spill or other disaster at the site.

Named “Headwaters Reclamation Project,” the facility will be built on a 34-acre tract off Rt. 49, just south of Ulysses. Plans call for a 10.5-acre water recycling facility to serve companies providing water for gas drilling in Potter, Tioga and Bradford counties.

REVH2O will treat used hydraulic fracturing water and then resell it to be used again by drillers.

The facility is permitted to treat a maximum of 420,000 gallons per day, but REVH2O’s David Kailbourne said that the “reality is probably 150,000- 200,000” gallons.

Contaminated hydraulic fracturing waste water will be trucked to the facility. The plant will remove suspended solids using “dissolved air flfloatation.” In that process, millions of tiny air bubbles are forced into the bottom of the liquid. As they flfloat to the top, suspended solids attach to the bubbles, creating a sludge on top that is mechanically swiped off the surface.

The solids are collected in a holding tank and then trucked to a landfifill.

REVH2O has been in the permitting process for over a year, Kailbourne said. But, much of the process had flflown under the radar until Wednesday’s meeting, which was attended by representatives of environmental watchdog groups.

They voiced their concerns over the potential for toxins to fifind their way into the headwaters of Ludington Run, a tributary of the Genesee River. According to recent studies, as many as 78 toxic chemicals and/ or compounds are typically found in used “frac” water.

Kailbourne said his company appreciates the sensitivity of the area and the danger, and has gone “above and beyond” what’s required to ensure safety.

“Everybody who walks into this facility will be reminded of the environmental sensitivity of the surrounding area,” he said. “This is a ‘closed loop’ facility, meaning the water will be within tanks or piping at all times. Not one gallon of water will ever touch the earth.”

Holding tanks will be lined with glass and steel and all pipes will be doublewall steel, Kailbourne said.

The facility, which is designed to operate for at least 30 years, is a “mobile unit” that can be moved from site to site, but this one will be set in permanently, according Kailbourne.

Asked why the unit is not being set up at well locations, Kailbourne said it was his company’s intent to operate that way, but ultimately it was more advantageous from a business perspective to have a centralized plant.

Kailbourne said the wastewater on every truck will be tested as it enters the facility. Trucks carrying water that is considered “hazardous” waste will be turned away.

As an added safety precaution, Kailbourne said REVH2O will train a hazardous materials team which will consist of its employees and local emergency responders.

“I live in Wellsville, which is not far from here,” Kailbourne said. “Our main priority has been to put safety fifirst and we’ve done that. We’re working with people who live right here. We’re going to be here in 30 years. We’re your neighbors.”

While members of the audience asked township supervisors to take a longer look and give more time for public scrutiny, the township engineer said the supervisors have been diligent.

“We were asked to assist the township in reviewing the project,” McElhaney said. “The developers have gotten all their state approvals so they have been pushing to get started. But the township supervisors stood fast and allowed us to do our work. There is opportunity for a spill, but they (REVH2O) have done a very good job in planning and preparing for the containment of a spill. So we have some reservations in the potential for problems in the operation (of the facility), but not the construction. It can be built safe.”

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