The West Virginia Environmental Quality Board overruled May 14 the Department of Environmental Protection’s order to shut down underground injection wells operated by Danny E. Webb Construction in Lochgelly, confirmed board clerk Jackie Shultz.
The board approved Danny Webb’s motion to stay the shutdown order, allowing the operation to dispose of fracking waste without a permit — the same activity the board declared unlawful in April.
An evidentiary hearing before the board on Danny Webb’s appeal is set for July 9. It is unclear if the waste disposal will continue until after the evidentiary hearing since a written order has not yet been been prepared.
For residents, environmental groups and elected officials in Fayette County, the decision comes as a shock.
Neither Bradley Keenan, a Lochgelly resident and plaintiff in the case resulting in the shutdown order, nor his attorney, Tom Rist, were informed of Webb’s appeal or the motion to stay the decision to shut down.
On April 8 the board ruled it was unlawful for the site to dispose of fracking waste under a DEP order and without proper permit. At that time, the board gave the DEP 30 days to either issue a new permit or shut down operations.
After the 30-day period, and in accordance with the quality board’s ruling, the DEP Office of Oil and Gas issued a shutdown order. Under that order, Webb was to stop all operations indefinitely.
Fayette Commission President Denise Scalph said she is “not at all happy” about the decision.
“Knowing the history of the site and our involvement, somebody should have been notified of this hearing. As a courtesy, if not required by law,” she said. The commission was told Tuesday the hearing did not require public input and outside parties did not need to be notified, she said.
“We are committed to pressing hard and pressing forward to eliminate this kind of waste,” added Scalph. “This is all the more reason we have to develop some kind of process to give us authority.”
On Monday, the county moved forward on an amendment to Fayette County’s Unified Development Code that will require injection control wells to have a county-level permit before applications are considered by the DEP.
The Fayette County Commission will consider adopting the changes May 27 at a 10:30 a.m. public hearing.
DEP spokeswoman Kelley Gillenwater confirmed the permit applications for two underground injection control wells at the Danny Webb Construction site are still under review.
Calls placed to Danny Webb corporate offices Tuesday were not immediately returned.
— E-mail: email@example.com; follow on Twitter @Sarah_E_Plummer