By SHELLEY HANSON
WHEELING - Wheeling-Ohio County Board of Health members learned recently the health department is issuing its first gas drilling-related labor camp permits.
Administrator Howard Gamble said one camp will include five trailers for a total of 14 people.
According to public health laws, companies that have sites with 10 or more people working and living at a site must apply for a labor camp permit.
Gamble did not disclose the exact location of the camps, but noted the permit holder is Chesapeake Energy. The rule's main goal is to keep conditions sanitary, especially when it comes to disposing of sewage properly.
"It will have to have a large holding tank for sewage,'' Gamble said, adding a separate state permit is needed for the tank.
"They've got to have their guys up there 24 hours a day because the work is 24 hours a day,'' he added.
Chesapeake spokeswoman Jacque Bland said the sites have been in place for awhile, but new permits are needed because of new laws.
"We have always had trailers with septic systems on our drilling locations, which is standard industry practice. However, new permitting requirements in Ohio County now define these trailer units as 'labor camps' even though they are identical to our previous drilling locations," Bland said.
Gamble said county sanitarians are slated to inspect sites for two other labor camps this week.
"Both of these sites also hold a state sewage permit for a holding tank for their on-site sewage system for their housing trailers. Both permits, ours and the ones from the state of West Virginia will/has been issued to Chesapeake," Gamble said.
"These will be our first labor camp permits in Ohio County. Other counties in West Virginia do have labor camps for agriculture and farming needs, some have also been issuing permits for oil and gas operations. Permits could be issued to pipeline companies or other participants in the drilling operation."