From Staff Reports
The deadline for citizen comments regarding the renewal of an injection well permit for a company operating injection wells and ponds at Lochgelly is fast approaching.
The permit for operation of the Class II wells and sediment ponds operated by Danny Webb Construction at Lochgelly expired in 2012 and is up for renewal, according to local residents concerned about the public health threat they believe is posed by the subsurface injection of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) wastewater.
In a press release from Brad Keenan, along with members of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the West Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club, concerns are raised over the possibility of health hazards related to air and water pollution.
“Sediment ponds and Class II injection wells containing hydraulic fracturing (fracking) wastewater pose an environmental and public health threat,” the release stated. “The ponds and wells are located on Town Hollow Road in Lochgelly, only a few miles from several public schools and residential neighborhoods. Danny Webb Construction operates the wells and ponds.
“According to locals, the fracking wastewater frequently overflows the ponds, and has also been leaking for over a year into the adjacent stream, Wolf Creek. Local residents and doctors are concerned about health hazards related to the air and water pollution.”
Keenan, owner of an adjacent property, went on to say he “wants WV DEP to close down the ponds and injection wells.”
“Fracking wastewater, an oil and gas exploration and production (E&P) waste, has been shown to contain toxic and cancer-causing chemicals, as well as radioactive substances which can endanger both human health and the environment. Yet despite the fact that E&P wastes may be toxic and radioactive, they are not regulated by hazardous waste provisions of federal law because of a loophole granted by Congress to the oil and gas industry,” the release continued.
“One way of disposing of this waste is in underground injection wells. In West Virginia, the state has been delegated authority over underground injection wells. However, despite the fact that (E&P) waste may be toxic and radioactive,” the authors pointed out, “the state does not require that they be injected into a Class I well, which is designed with increased safeguards to ensure that hazardous wastes are safely disposed of. ”
The NRDC has also called for the banning of open air pits for storage of oil and gas waste. “Pits are known to cause groundwater and surface water contamination because of torn liners that do not prevent leaks, and overflows or runoff. Pits can also allow the hazardous contaminants in E&P wastes to be released into the environment through evaporation into the air. Additionally, pits are known hazards to wildlife. For all these reasons, the NRDC thinks open air pits should be banned from containing any toxic oil and gas waste. Instead, appropriately strong tanks should be utilized for toxic waste stored on the surface.
“...Oil and gas waste, whether from drilling, fracking, or production, should be managed in as safe a way as possible to minimize risk to the environment and human and animal health,” Amy Mall, senior policy analyst with the NRDC, said, before urging additional tests, inspection and public input.
“This is a serious public health issue that needs immediate attention,” said Beth Little of the Sierra Club, West Virginia Chapter.
“Fayette County residents should be outraged that this has been allowed to go on for as long as it has. I strongly recommend that concerned citizens express strong opposition to the renewal or issuance of any injection well permits for Danny Webb Construction, and demand a public hearing during evening hours so that more people can attend.”
Any comments regarding the renewal of the permit must be mailed by March 13 to: WV DEP, Office of Oil and Gas, 601 57th Street, SE, Charleston WV 25304, Attention: James Martin. The following identifying information should be included in the letter: Applicant — Danny E. Webb Construction, Inc.; Applicant Number — UIC2D0190460; Activity — Renewal of an Underground Injection Control (UIC) Permit for the subsurface disposal of approved fluids.