On Monday, Oct. 12, during a regularly scheduled session, Oak Hill Town Council passed a non-binding resolution to support an ordinance to make it illegal to dump, store, or inject, the waste byproducts of hydrofracking and coal slurry within the boundaries of the Fayette County.
Non-binding resolutions are how elected officials publicly air the concerns of their constituents and to show their moral support for passage of the ordinance, which has yet to be proposed to the County Commission. Introduced by geologist and local resident Brandon Richardson it passed with but one objection.
Only a week earlier Richardson had discovered what appeared to be a release of an unknown contaminant adjacent to the Lochgelly oil and gas waste injection site and reported it to the WV Department of Environmental Protection “DEP”.
Amid much controversy the DEP re-issued permits to the Lochgelly operation to continue injecting waste that typically contains dangerously high levels of radionuclides, heavy metals, and other cancer-inducing toxins. It did so despite never having found the source of a similar release discovered in Wolf Creek just downstream from the Lochgelly site back in 2013, by Duke University researcher Dr. Avner Vengosh.
Back in 2011, the official Source Water Assessment and Protection Report for Fayette County’s WV American Water Public Service District WV330LO46 reported a high priority concern that “Underground mines in some locations are being used to dispose of mine waste and fracturing water from oil and gas operations.” That same report states, “The water system staff has expressed concerns about what types of things may be injected into abandoned underground mines and how that will potentially impact the surface water in the future.”
That same year (2011), Massey Energy Co. reportedly paid over $35 million in settlement to hundreds of West Virginians who claimed that coal slurry injected into abandoned mines had poisoned drinking wells near their homes. It took the citizens of those affected communities seven long years of litigation to recover damages for something that the DEP had, prior to that settlement, actually deemed the “best available technology” for the disposal of coal prep waste.
Court records reflect the allegations that exposure to the coal prep waste cause cancer or renal failure; cognitive impairment; colon or kidney problems; leukemia, spina bifida, pancreatitis; cysts, boils or internal ulcers; gallbladder problems; and sentinel symptoms, such as chronic diarrhea or rashes.
Prior to Richardson’s proposal, around 3,500 citizens had already endorsed the proposed ordinance because of the petition that he and a small handful of volunteers had been circulating, mostly within the County. After the council session, volunteer Barbara Daniels, who over the last three months personally collected scores of those endorsements, reported that county residents have been eagerly signing the Mountain Party-authored petition because of their concerns over the rising incidence of cancers and other serious illnesses connected to pollutants specific to extraction industry wastes.
A draft of the soon to be proposed ordinance may be viewed on the internet at mountainpartywv.com/?p=1275. If you support its passage but haven’t yet signed the petition, you can do so by visiting Wendy’s Cathedral Cafe, in Fayetteville where Wendy’s staff is collecting signatures, or drop by Hair by Claudia, also in Fayetteville, or visit the historic Oak Hill Railroad Depot on the southwest corner of Virginia Avenue and Central Avenue in Oak Hill.
Volunteers will also be gathering signatures throughout Fayette County’s Bridge Day celebration, and have been provided a booth by local concerned citizens to distribute informational leaflets at Space #27 SOUTH at the official Bridge Day Event.
WV Mountain Party
304 989 1629