The Fairmont Brine Processing site is located at 168 AFR
Drive in Fairmont West Virginia. The Brine processing facility was constructed
between 2009 and 2010 by the AOP Clearwater LLC. The plant was acquired
by Fairmont Brine Processing (FBP) in 2012. FBP began pre-treatment
operations at the Site in 2013 and fully
operated the plant in fall of 2014. FBP ceased
operations at the site on or about March 1, 2018.
The plant accepted flowback and produced fluids from the
hydraulic fracturing process used to extract natural gas, otherwise known as
"Brine". FBP used chemical and carbon filter media,
multiple-effect evaporation, and crystallization to treat and process the brine
they received. This produced Sodium Chloride, Calcium Chloride, and Distilled
water. By-products created from the process include wastewater treatment sludge
and filter cake material. Produced fluids from fracking operations
can contain Technically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials,
known as "TENORM". Click
here to learn more about TENORM.
On May 30, 2023, there was a fire and subsequent
explosion at the Site damaging an above ground storage tank and the upper
process building. Following the fire, elevated readings of TENORM
radiation were found in several areas of the Site. Click here for
general information about radiation sources and doses.
West Virginia Department of Health [also known as WVDH (formerly known as WV DHHR)] has reviewed data from
radiological testing which occurred in 2019 as part of routine
compliance testing and also conducted new tests of both raw (untreated) and finished (treated) drinking water at the Morgantown
Utility Board water treatment facility in October 2023. This facility is
operated by the only West Virginia public water system downstream of the former Fairmont
Brine along the Monongahela River. All testing results for regulated radionuclides
are well below EPA drinking water standards. This data provides strong evidence
that the radioactivity at the former Fairmont Brine site has had no effect on
public drinking water supplies.
EPA mailed informational postcards to addresses within 1.5 miles of the site on 12/12/2023. The postcards provide resident's with current information regarding the site, and contact information to address potential concerns. A digital version of the postcard is uploaded in the documents section of this website.
Based on current radiological data obtained at the
Fairmont Brine site, none of the data collected suggests that there are
measurable health impacts to the public resulting from the May 2023 fire.
Individuals that would like to discuss specific health concerns may reach out
to the West Virginia Department of Health (WVDH), Bureau for
Public Health's Office of Environmental Health Services Radiological Health
Program at 304-558-2981.
The only verified assessments of the site at this time
are those which have been undertaken by responding federal and state agencies.
These assessments did confirm the presence of radioactivity originating from
radium 226, with the highest dose rate at 3 mrem per hour in one location. This
dose rate, although one of concern, would not cause immediate health effects.
However, exposure over a lifetime to lower levels can cause an increase in
cancer risk. For
general information about relative doses from radiation sources, click here.
Current and future actions to restrict access to the site
are also meant to mitigate long term exposures from radiation to trespassers,
responders, and the public. By mid November a fence was erected as a safety protocol to
ensure the areas in which the most elevated levels of radium 226 contamination
were found remain undisturbed by preventing any unauthorized access. Click
here to learn more about radiation contamination versus exposure.
EPA and its contractors have posted "NO
TRESPASSING" signs at the Site. Trespassers will be reported to law
enforcement. EPA has established a public phoneline for additional
questions and concerns pertaining to the site at (800) 438-2474. The
phone line is staffed Monday - Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. EST.
here to read the October 2023 press release with more information about
the response and public resources.
EPA is assisting the WV Department of
Environmental Protection (WV DEP) with their response to the fire at FBP. EPA
is coordinating with WV DEP, the WV Department of Health (WVDH),
and Marion County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services to
take actions to mitigate the release or potential release of hazardous
substances from the facility. Click
here for more information on how EPA responds to hazardous waste sites