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This week from Charleston

By Staff | Oct 24, 2014

This was an important week for the Eastern Panhandle in Charleston. The week started with interim legislative meetings at the Capitol. The Joint Rulemaking and Review Committee, chaired by Senator Herb Snyder and Delegate Meshea Poore, met to consider regulations no how to deal with radioactive drill cutting waste from fracking. Senator Unger is a member of the committee. We are very fortunate to have two Eastern Panhandle legislators on the committee because we were able to have the rule relating to disposal of drill cuttings in Karst regions clarified.

I have written before that this past session, we were able to amend the fracking drill cuttings bill to prevent disposal of fracking waste in Karst Regions like the Eastern Panhandle. However, thanks to the very careful analysis of Clint Hogbin of the Berkeley County Solid Waste Authority, we discovered that there was a possible loophole in the bill that—-although fracking waste could not be disposed of in an unlimited amount—some waste could still be mixed in with municipal waste up to the landfill’s limit. For those that do not know, we only have one landfill in the Eastern Panhandle: LCS in Berkeley County. Fortunately, with the pressure of most of the Eastern Panhandle delegation, the DEP agreed to the regulation modification so that no drill cutting waste can be disposed of at all in our area because of our vulnerable geology. Senator Unger made the motion in committee to get the modification. I had spoken to the DEP lawyer immediately prior to the meeting to confirm that they would be willing to make the change without a complete re-write of the law.

This is important for two reasons. First, Karst geology is notoriously difficult for dealing with pollution. Drill cuttings bring the possibility of radioactivity in abnormal amounts. The risk of the drill cuttings in the landfill creating radioactive leachate that could then get into the groundwater of the Eastern Panhandle is far too great. The second reason this is important is that the LCS landfill may have additional capacity that when the Enstorga recycling and biofuel plant opens in Berkeley County. The Enstorga plant will likely take much of the waste that is now going into the landfill. If this waste does not go into the landfill, then the landfill will have greater capacity. Greater capacity means the landfill operator will look to find additional sources of waste to put in the landfill. Fracking waste could have been the choice, despite our vulnerable water supply. Hopefully, this is the end to the possibility that the Eastern Panhandle might be forced to take radioactive fracking waste.