Bill Hughes of Wetzel County Solid Waste Authority gave Wetzel County Commissioners an update March 29 regarding the state of Wetzel County's landfill.
Hughes stated that during the 2014 West Virginia Legislature session "not a lot of progress was made" in regards to the dumping of Marcellus Shale drilling waste.
The topic was first brought to the commission's attention in October 2013 when Hughes and fellow members of the WCSWA, Mark Cochran and Terri Tyler, reported that the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection released memos that have allowed any landfill to accept an unlimited amount of Marcellus drill waste. For over 20 years the total amount of waste that was accepted was legally limited to 9,999 tons per month. In July 2013, the county's landfill took in over 25,000 tons of just drill waste
On Dec. 14, 2011, the West Virginia Legislature passed House Bill 401, the Natural Gas Horizontal Well Control Act. This act requires the disposal of drilling waste to be disposed of "in an approved solid waste facility."
Furthermore, in a memo dated July 26, 2013, the DEP offered two options a landfill can pursue to address "tonnage issues created by the new legislative mandate: "Class B facilities can apply to expand to a Class A facility in order to increase its monthly tonnage limit from 9,999 to 30,000 tons, or a Class A or Class B facility can construct a cell separate from the municipal solid waste cells to be dedicated solely to the disposal of drilling waste. This cell would not count toward a facility's monthly tonnage limits. The memo from the DEP states that a perusal or application toward either of these options would allow the facilities to be eligible to exceed their monthly tonnage limits until June 1, 2014.
On March 29, Hughes stated that during this year's legislative session, H.B. 107 bill had been amended, relating to the disposal of drill cuttings and associated drilling waste generated from well sites at commercial solid waste facilities. Hughes stated there were three main changes.
First of all, the bill stated a solid waste facility could not exclude or refuse to take municipal solid waste in the quantity up to and including its permitted tonnage limit while the facility is allowed to receive drill cuttings or drilling waste above its permitted tonnage limits. "The legal limit (for Marcellus waste) is now gone," Hughes noted, adding that the landfill still has a maximum of "10,000 tons of municipal waste," per month.
The bill also states that $1 per ton must be paid by the oil and gas company for disposal of drill cuttings and drilling waste caused by horizontal well sites.
Furthermore, any solid waste facility taking drill cuttings and drilling waste must install radiation monitors by January 1, 2015.
Also, on or before July 1, 2015, an investigation and report is to be submitted to the Joint Legislative Oversight Commission on Water Resources and the Legislature's Joint Committee on Government and Finance. The bill states that this report is to examine the hazardous characteristics of leachate collected from solid waste facilities receiving drill cuttings and drilling waste." The report is also to research potential negative impacts on surface water or groundwater associated with the collection of drill cuttings and drill waste; the "technical and economic feasibility and benefits of establishing additional and/or separated disposal locations that are funded, constructed, owned, and/or operated by the oil and gas industry, and "the viable alternatives for the handling, treatment, and disposal of drill cuttings, including the potential for processing, reusing, and reapplying a portion of the collected drill cuttings as suitable fill material for roads, brownfield development, or other projects, instead of disposing of all collected materials into landfills."
Hughes added that the bill also states a "Gas Field Highway Repair and Horizontal Drilling Waste Study Fund" is created as a special revenue fund in the State Treasury to be administered by the West Virginia Division of Highways and to be used only on the improvement maintenance, and repair of public roads of three lanes or less located in the watershed from which the revenue was received that are identified by the Commissioner of Highways as having been damaged by trucks and other traffic associated with horizontal well drilling sites or the disposal of waste generated by such sites.
However, up to $750,000 from the fund shall be made available to the DEP to offset contracted costs incurred while undertaking the horizontal drilling waste disposal studies.
As for the special cells that are to collect drilling waste, the bill states that "on or before March 8, 2014, the facility has either obtained a certificate of need, or amended certificate of need, or has a pending application for a certificate or amended certificate of need, authorizing such separate cell . . ."
Additionally, "the secretary may only allow those solid waste facilities that applied by December 31, 2013 for a permit modification to construct a separate cell for drill cuttings and associated drilling waste, to accept drill cuttings and associated drilling waste at its commercial solid waste facility without counting the deposited drill cuttings and associated drilling waste towards the landfill's permitted monthly tonnage limits . . ."
As of press time, House Bill 107 has completed legislation and is awaiting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin's signature. To view the bill in its entirety, check out the West Virginia Legislature website at www.legis.state.wv.us/
Click on Bill Status, then change Regular Session to First Special Section using the drop-down menu. Then, under Bill Quick Search, type in 107. You can then click to view the bill, using html.