Sheriffs Are Still Tracking Trucks –
Fewer problems, they say, but some remain
From Article By Casey Junkins, The Wheeling Intelligencer, May 31, 2013
MOUNDSVILLE – Marshall County Sheriff Kevin Cecil said there are fewer problems related to natural gas industry truck traffic than at this time last year. Cecil said efforts involving law enforcement, natural gas companies and community members are continuing.
“I am not suggesting we don’t still have some issues, but we are working together to handle it,” he said.
That is somewhat different from last year, when former Sheriff John Gruzinskas told the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation that he was seeing a “disrespectful attitude and disregard for the residents of this county by some of these subcontractors.”
“The distrust and animosity still remains between the subcontractors and the citizens,” Gruzinskas wrote in his official testimony to the committee chaired by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.
Most natural gas production companies such as Chesapeake Energy, CNX Gas Corp., Gastar Exploration, Trans Energy and others hire subcontractors to perform services such as well drilling, fracking, construction and transportation. The trucks could be carrying equipment, water, sand, chemicals, propane, butane or other materials.
Cecil said the traffic was a slightly down during the winter months but got heavy again once warmer temperatures returned. He said over the long term, however, the situation has improved. “It is not nearly as bad as it was initially,” he said. “I feel like the drillers are, for the most part, trying to be good neighbors.”
As more of the burgeoning natural gas drilling industry moves north to Ohio County, Sheriff Pat Butler said his deputies are alert and looking for trucks that are exceeding the posted speed limits. “People are constantly complaining about it. They say the trucks run too fast and take up too much space,” Butler said. “We get complaints throughout the county.”
Butler said one particular instance saw one of his deputies issue multiple speeding citations along National Road in Valley Grove, all in response to a citizen complaint. “It is an ongoing problem,” he said. “We will continue to do what we can.”
In May 2011, an Ohio County School bus carrying three students home needed to take evasive action to avoid a large natural gas industry truck that went left of center on Dallas Pike Road.
In response to this and similar reported events, Chesapeake and school officials agreed on a policy that is designed to keep trucks off the roads during times of school bus travel.
To report problems involving truck traffic relating to Chesapeake, spokeswoman Jacque Bland said residents should call 855-245-7366 to voice their concerns.