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Fracking Waste Debated For Landfills

Reported: Feb. 17, 2014 10:43 PM EST
Updated: Feb. 17, 2014 11:10 PM EST

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Stefano DiPietrantonio) - What's the best thing to do with all that hazardous waste, leftover from the fracking process? That question got a lot of attention at a public hearing Monday night before the House Judiciary Committee.

Both sides turned-out to make their case. The flap is over HB 4411. It would give the DEP Secretary the authority to give landfills the go-ahead, to increase capacity. to store fracking waste. It got the thumbs-up from the House Energy Committee last week. But there are some folks who said adding the hazardous waste to our landfills, is a recipe for disaster.

"The only reason I got involved was because I started thinking, why are so many kids sick in my area?," said a tearful Mary Rahall from Fayetteville, WV. She said there's been an increase in live and kidney disease in children, even an increase in cancer-related deaths. These are just some of the reasons she gets emotional. Rahall said she and thousands of others oppose dumping fracking waste into our state landfills.

"It's actually called flowback water, brine, and it's disposed in large sediment pits. and into an injection well," said Rahall.

One of which she said is located about a half mile from a large daycare center, homes and public schools.

"Hauled in from other places and dumped in our community," she said. "The sediment pits have been leaking since 2003. into the water supply."

If landfills were to take the waste, they'd have to increase their capacity, or build separate areas to handle it, instead of having dozens of smaller mini-sites across the state.

"And we feel, along with the Department of Environmental Protection, that this is a safer, more responsible way to dispose of the cuttings," said Delegate Kevin Craig of the 16th District, who sponsored HB 4411.

Craig also said it's an improvement on the horizontal drilling act they passed two years ago, which called for the responsible disposal of these cuttings. And will mostly affect areas, with heavy drilling in the north-central part of the state.

"Current landfills, some of the counties affected would be Wetzel County, more in the Marcellas drilling area," said Craig.

It's estimated, there's more than a 200-year capacity left in Wetzel County. That's no consolation for Mary Rahall.

"Our communities are being turned into a sacrifice zone, for fracking, which I think is horribly wrong," said Rahall. "We need to be considered as humans, with a right to clean air and water."

DEP Cabinet Secretary Randy Huffman has said solid waste landfills are the best option, because there are already regulations in place, like double-lined walls, leak-detection systems, as well as groundwater monitoring wells.

And there is an amendment to the bill, which would require radiation monitors to be installed at the landfills, which accept the drilling waste. HB4411 goes to the full House next for a vote. A similar bill is also working it's way through the Senate right now.

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