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Protestors say they don't want hydrofracking in Washington County, VA

By Callan Gray, cgray@wcyb.com
Published On: Aug 13 2014 12:02:11 AM CDT
Updated On: Aug 13 2014 12:04:03 AM CDT
WASHINGTON COUNTY, Va. -

Protestors gathered in Abingdon on Tuesday night to make it clear they do not want hydraulic fracturing in Washington County, Virginia.

Hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking, is the process of pumping chemical-laced water into the ground to open cracks in the rock, allowing natural gas to flow out.

More than 70 people gathered outside Abingdon's Government Center Building to send that message to the Board of Supervisors.

They told us the Board isn't listening to their requests to prevent hydrofracking.

The Board of Supervisors is considering a new rezoning ordinance to allow hydraulic fracturing county-wide by special exception permit.

“If you've got property in Washington County you better be concerned because your property values can go down drastically living next to pollution of all types,” said resident Jan Reeves.

Board members told us they don’t have control over pollution. The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy regulates all hydrofracking in the Commonwealth.

We reached out to DMME to find out how closely water quality is monitored at drilling sites.

“What happens is companies have to get a ground water analysis within 500 feet of where they're going to drill and that analysis has to be submitted to our Division of Gas and Oil before they can receive a permit to drill,” said Tarah Kesterson, DMME’s spokesperson.

Kesterson said even though there is no water testing once the hydrofracking is done, it is something the regulatory board is considering adding.

DMME has seven employees who monitor the overall drilling process, she told us.

“They’re on site during drilling and fracking and they inspect those wells as they produce periodically,” said Kesterson.

Resident Jan Reeves told us that’s not enough.

“They don't represent the interests of the people,” Reeves said.

The Board of Supervisors did vote to pass the new ordinance on to the Planning Commission.

There will be a public hearing at the next Board meeting.

We asked the Board of Supervisors how much money the county would make from hydrofracking and they weren't able to give us a figure. They told us landowners who allow drilling on their land will also get royalties.