- Associated Press - Thursday, May 28, 2015

FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. (AP) - Operators of future underground injection wells in Fayette County will have to obtain a permit from the county. Some residents say the move is a step in the right direction but does not go far enough.

The County Commission on Wednesday amended the county’s development code to require county permits for injection wells and holding ponds, media outlets reported.

A public hearing will be required before the county board of zoning on permit applications for wells in districts zoned for heavy industrial use. Three public hearings will be required before the zoning board, planning commission and County Commission for wells on property that is not zoned for heavy industrial use.

“Our County Commission was intent on our offices bringing something forward immediately because of concern about what injection wells are doing to Fayette County,” said Richardson.

Injection wells are used to dispose of oil and gas drilling waste from hydraulic fracturing by pumping it underground. Opponents of the practice say the county should ban the disposal of such waste.

Tom Rhule called the amendment “a Band-Aid over a bullet wound.”

“They are grandfathering in ongoing problems with this ordinance, and they admitted it,” Rhule said.

Environmental organizations and some residents have said two existing wells in Lochgelly operated by Danny Webb Construction pose a threat to health, water resources and property values, and that the company has a history of violations.

Webb has said he operated the wells legally. The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection is reviewing Webb’s application to renew state permits for the wells.

“I love my community, and I am very concerned that it has been exposed to toxic air and water pollution for the past several years,” resident Mary Rahall said. “Given the situation, I don’t trust the West Virginia DEP anymore. I am hoping that the Fayette County Commission will finally enact an ordinance to ban the disposal of toxic and radioactive hydraulic frack waste, which would prevent it from being disposed of in sediment pits, injection wells, and abandoned coal mines.”

Larry Harrah, the commission’s attorney, said the county’s effort to address the issue is not finished.


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