McLEAN, Va. (AP) — Environmentalists say a memo released quietly by West Virginia regulators earlier this year has carved a major loophole in the state rules governing landfills, all with the intent of aiding the boom in gas drilling.
The new rule specifies that landfills can accept unlimited amounts of solid waste generated from horizontal gas drilling, more commonly known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking. That creates a big gap in a decades-old law that strictly limited the tonnage a landfill could accept.
The drilling waste is known in the industry as "drill cuttings," a sludgy mix of dirt, water, sand and chemicals dredged up in the drilling process.
Environmentalists say the drill cuttings raise possible concerns about radioactivity. Drilling groups and landfill owners say the concern is overblown.