On Aug. 26, The WV Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued permits to the Danny Webb Construction, Inc. (DWC) frack waste disposal wells. The DEP then sent out a list of citizen comments regarding these permits, along with replies.
Relying largely on evasive phrases such as “we see no evidence” and on rote responses, myriad examples of DWC violations received the DEP reply that the onsite pits “have been removed and surface reclaimed.”
Another repetitive response was that DWC is “in compliance with permit requirements.” What assurance is there that the DEP will suddenly begin enforcing permit conditions that have been virtually ignored for 8 years?
Moreover, the DEP deceptively mislabeled this highly radioactive, poisonous waste as “brine.” The permits, therefore, shockingly do not require tests for radium and many other toxins known to be abundant in the horizontal hydrofracturing waste injected at DWC and similar facilities.
Among other misleading statements was that the DEP had not denied two scientific teams access to sample the DWC settling ponds. This is true. The Environmental Quality Board did – while stating three times in their two-page order that the access was denied at the request of the DEP.
To another comment that the wells were drilled through a coal mine, the DEP maintained that these wells were reinforced through that section, but provided no record of that being true. That Sewell seam hydraulically connects to the New River and other mines, some of which may supply drinking water.
The most egregious frequent response was that, no matter what they inject, it is legal because federal law exempts gas and oilfield wastes from all environmental laws. However, regardless of loopholes, the DEP is charged with protecting our environment. Moreover, West Virginia has primacy over these wells; existing state regulations override federal exemptions.
The DEP’s choice to fall back on minimal federal safeguards to protect industry profits indicates that Fayette County needs to defend itself. A petition being circulated urges a county-wide ban on industrial waste disposal. Protect your health by adding your name to it.
The Mountain Party