- Associated Press - Friday, March 7, 2014

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A bill allowing drill cuttings from horizontal wells to be discarded in commercial solid waste facilities passed unanimously Friday in the West Virginia Senate.

The bill states that the drillings must be contained in separate, lined cells. Drilling companies will be charged $1 per ton to fund Department of Environmental Protection studies on the viability of using existing landfills for cuttings. The bill also sets aside $75,000 for a scientific study on the leeching of these cells, said Sen. Herb Snyder, D-Jefferson.

Snyder said it’s important to pass this bill to govern how drillings are handled because there are currently few regulations.

The Horizontal Well Act of 2012 states that cuttings must be disposed of on drilling sites with the authorization of property owners and the DEP or be taken to the landfill, he said. Although the act did not set down regulations on landfills accepting this waste, the DEP has already been monitoring the refuse.

Snyder said the bill approved Friday instructs landfills to install monitors to measure radioactivity. “The DEP states this is a must to know these are safe,” he explained. “Horizontal drilling is the future of our state and this is a very necessary bill. It was put together in the most environmentally friendly way we can.”

Earlier this week the Senate amended the bill to exclude some landfills on the eastern most side of this state from accepting drilling waste because of the presence of porous limestone rock beneath the landfills.

The bill does not force landfills to accept these drillings.

Changes made to the bill must be approved by the House before it is sent to the governor.