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Landfill Refutes Allegations

By Staff | Apr 15, 2009

Allegations of contamination of water wells in the Whiteman Hill area were the primary topic of contention during the April 7 Wetzel County Commission meeting.

Area residents Paul Weaver, Lou Rabel, and Helen Earley started off a Small Cities Block Grant public meeting by saying that none of them commented or implied that the Wetzel County Landfill was responsible for the contamination of wells in the area that has been eliminated from a SCBG application for Public Service District #1. However, comments of that nature were made at the March 24 meeting that was attended by several area property owners.

Adam Finley, manager of the Wetzel County Landfill, came to the April 7 meeting armed with maps and reports to prove that the landfill could not be responsible for any water well contamination in the Whiteman Hill area.

He said the landfill liner elevation is 1,000 feet down to 700 to 800 feet. The homes on Whiteman Hill are at 1,300 to 1,350 feet elevations, meaning they would have to drill a 5-600 feet deep water well to even be in the same area.

In addition, he said they have done studies to show how water flows underground in that area and it flows down from Whiteman Hill to Cider Run.

“It is not possible that the landfill can contaminate your wells,” said Finley.

“I understand your concern,” Commission President Don Mason told Finley. Mason said he believes the comments were made in the heat of discussion.

Even beyond the elevation argument, Finley presented a thick binder of statistical analysis on the landfill’s safety. “We build our landfills better than anybody in the state,” promised Finley, saying they follow and exceed state specifications. “We’re doing everything we can to protect the environment out there.”

They have one upgradient and six down gradient test wells, when they are only required to have one and three, respectively. “I can’t stress how we go above and beyond what we have to do,” stated Finley.

Rabel said why and how the wells are contaminated is irrelevant; what is relevant is the health and safety concern.

The Whiteman Hill area was recently cut from a SCBG application seeking a grant to supply water to Richwood Run, State Road Run, Eight Mile Ridge, and Chiselfinger Ridge. The project has a total price tag of $3.644 million.

The Whiteman Hill, or New Martinsville Ridge, area was originally part of the project, however it was cut because the cost per customer was too high, $42,000 per household, or $1.5 million. The maximum amount of a SCBG is $1.5 million.

“When applications are looked at by the infrastructure council, it’s the most bang for the buck,” said Keith Nelsen, PSD district manager.

That cost per household was based on 34 homes, but Weaver said he now has a list of 49 homes that want water. Nelsen said at least 10 of those homes cannot be counted because they have New Martinsville water.

“We’re not allowed to consider you as a customer because you’re already served by someone,” explained Nelsen.

However, if those 10 customers who installed and maintain their own water lines from New Martinsville would ask the municipal provider to release them in the event that a different water service was available, and the city would agree to the arrangement, then they could be counted.

The PSD #1 board meets the first Monday of every month at 10 a.m. in their building in Reader located behind the fire department.

Scott Hicks of Belomar Regional Council told the approximately 30 people in attendance at the meeting that they would be better off to apply for funding for Whiteman Hill from other sources.

“I think the well contamination is your best edge,” offered Nelsen.

To push the contamination, he suggested more wells need to be tested.

They also suggested the residents of Whiteman Hill keep talking with and writing to legislators, both on the state and national level, to try to get some funding for the project.

Also, at the conclusion of the meeting the commission approved a $10,000 expenditure for a preliminary engineering study for a water study on Whiteman Hill alone. The previous study could not be used because it included the other areas that were kept in the SCBG application.