New Castle News


June 18, 2014

Hilcorp official refuses to say what will go on at Nashua Road

NEW CASTLE — The Pulaski Township supervisors approved a conditional use zoning permit for a new Hilcorp Energy development Monday.

But Hilcorp officials would not say what type of facility will go on the property at 352 Nashua Road, owned by John and Connie Ratvasky.

Township resident Suzanne Matteo asked Stephanie McMurray, Hilcorp regulatory technician, whether the development listed as a “central facility” is actually a compressor station. Another resident asked whether the two terms mean the same thing.

Richard Harper, township solicitor, asked McMurray, “Do you want to answer that?” to which she replied, “No.”

All three township supervisors — Sam Varano, Greg Carna and Lori Sniezek — said later they do not know whether the planned facility is a compressor station.

Sniezek did not vote on the conditional use permit, citing a conflict of interest because she is employed by Hilcorp.

A check with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Tuesday revealed that Hilcorp has not yet applied for an air quality permit at the site, which would be required for a compressor station.

But the DEP’s Gary Clark said, “That does not mean they won’t make application. It means they have not yet.” He said companies often complete local requirements before obtaining DEP permits.

Clark also noted Hilcorp has an air quality permit “for a ‘central facility’ compressor in Pulaski Township” at the Whiting facility at 3140 Garner Road, which it got in August 2012 and which is “up and running.”

McMurray and attorney Blaine Lucas represented Hilcorp at the meeting, which drew a standing-room crowd of more than 50 people.

Lucas entered a continuing objection to allowing anyone “who does not live in close proximity to the facility” to speak. However Harper, who conducted the hearing, allowed everyone who wanted to to speak.

Matteo asked whether data about air emissions around a compressor station have been considered and whether the facility has an air quality permit. McMurray replied that the air quality permit request will be filed before construction is started.

Margaret Henry of North Beaver Township said compressor stations give off dangerous gases and pollutants, adding it is wrong to let a corporation expose people to them. She noted that while only township residents are supposed to speak at a zoning hearing, “When you figure out a way to keep that crap in Pulaski Township, I’ll stop coming.”

Harper said the state, not supervisors, oversees air and water quality issues.

One man said homeowners within a mile and a half of a well have a 23 percent decrease in property value and said residents should file a nuisance lawsuit against Hilcorp.

Timothy Chito of 650 Cheriwood Road, who lives near the recently approved Mijavec wellpad, said he measured 80 decibels at his doorstep. He said this is enough to cause hearing damage. He also asked whether the township has an evacuation plan in case of an accident and said he believes that placing a wellpad in a residential or agricultural area violates the state Constitution.

Harper replied that the applicant is required to have an emergency plan.

Tammy Rudzik, who has a gas and oil lease and lives near the Mijavec wellpad, said she has an unidentified white residue over her outdoor furniture and deck. She said the noise level is disturbingly high. Another woman commented that when the Mijavec well was approved, Rudzik was assured noise would be at an acceptable level.

A Marr Road man asked whether Hilcorp is providing any funding or training to deal with a wellpad fire.

McMurray responded that Hilcorp has an emergency response plan and “we do not involve locals” except for traffic control. She said she has “several professionals” throughout Pennsylvania for emergency response but could not say what their average response time is or where they are located. She said site visits and training have been offered to the local fire department.

Matteo asked Carna if his family owns T.C. Redi-Mix that delivers cement to Hilcorp wellpads. Carna replied, “I am an employee of T.C. Redi-Mix,” adding he works at its Youngstown, Ohio, plant and “we do nothing” with the Pulaski wellpads.

Harper commented that under Pennsylvania law, if Carna felt he had a conflict of interest he would recuse himself.

The supervisors imposed some restrictions on the Nashua Road development, in addition to those imposed on previous well developments. They required that Hilcorp submit a land development plan, that the facility be fully compliant with the township noise ordinance “which will be enforced,” that Hilcorp is to investigate the white residue at the Rudzik property, and that all state and federal permits are in place before there is any activity at the site.

A conditional use request for the property of John Joseph on Topper Hill Road was withdrawn prior to the meeting.


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