Parsons, WV: Recently, the West Virginia DEP held a public hearing regarding an underground injection well permit renewal near Camp Horseshoe in Tucker County. A crowd of about 50 citizens gathered in the Tucker County Board of Education Gym to speak with DEP representatives, ask questions, and share concerns.
Pillar Energy, LLC is requesting a permit from the DEP to inject 590 barrels of fracking brine per day into an existing well next to Horseshoe Run, a tributary of the Cheat River, near St. George, WV. This potentially toxic mixture could leak into the ground water or Horseshoe Run and the Cheat River, negating much of the restoration work that has been completed to restore ecological health to the watershed.
Local non-profits Friends of Blackwater and Friends of the Cheat submitted coordinated official comments objecting to this potentially harmful waste disposal, and over 1,700 public comments from members of the community led to this public hearing being held.
“The injection well could fail and the bad water come back up through an old water well is right next to it. Such event could hurt people, farm animals and waterways including Horseshoe Run, a native trout stream” said Judy Rodd, Executive Director of Friends of Blackwater, to WBOY 12 News.
A total of 15 citizens spoke at the hearing, ranging from neighbors of the well site, local business owners, environmental activists, government officials, and non-profit organizations. A wide variety of concerns and questions were raised, such as:
· Will this injection site undo significant investments spent on restoring, supporting, and protecting the Upper Cheat watershed and Horseshoe Run?
· Is brine from gas wells truly radioactive, as described in the article America’s Radioactive Secret published in Rolling Stone on January 21, 2020?
· Should there be a spill, are the truck drivers trained to cope with toxic water and protect themselves, the public, and surrounding land and water?
· Are the roads and bridges to and from this well site realistically able to withstand consistent, heavy truck traffic?
· Has the Division of Oil and Gas suggested that Pillar deliver brine to a commercial injection site, which may be more efficient and provide additional safety features to prevent spill impacts to the environment?
· How, if at all, will this benefit the Tucker County community?
As is customary with public hearings like this, the DEP will now review the commentary before making any decisions or announcements regarding the future of this permit renewal. While the community awaits further information, it’s important to note that there’s still time to share your comments, concerns, and questions with the DEP before the comment period expires on March 15, 2020. You can submit your feedback via Friends of Blackwater’s petition or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org directly.