By Cindy Rank
The Antero Clearwater permit appeal reported in the December 2017 Highlands Voice led to a settlement agreement requiring stronger monitoring requirements for the landfill accepting frack waste byproducts.
On December 11, 2017 the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy and the West Virginia Rivers Coalition entered into an agreement with Antero Treatment, LLC, to settle the permit appeal involving Antero Clearwater’s landfill that accepts salt by-products from their adjacent fracking wastewater recycling facility.
The new facility and landfill spans a 447-acre site across Ritchie and Doddridge Counties along Route 50 near West Union WV midway between Clarksburg and Parkersburg. The permit allows the discharge of stormwater runoff and associated pollutants from 13 outfalls into tributaries of the Hughes River, within five miles upstream of the City of Harrisville’s public water system intake.
As reported in the December 2017 WV Highlands Voice the permit appeal was based on lack of evaluation and monitoring for the potential for radioactivity and other harmful pollutants from waste disposed at this site. The agreement modifies the landfill permit to include new enforceable monitoring requirements for at least the next twelve months:
- Monthly laboratory analysis for radioactivity of material entering the landfill;
- Monthly groundwater sampling for radioactivity;
- Regular monitoring for bromide, known to cause problems for drinking water treatment, in surface water discharges; and,
- Regular monitoring for Total Dissolved Solids in surface water discharges.
Underground injection of massive amounts of wastewater from horizontal drilling and hydrofracking appears to have created unstable geological conditions in Texas, Oklahoma and elsewhere. So, it’s no wonder industry and the state are looking for better ways to deal with the ever-increasing amounts of wastewater and contaminants released during the fracking process. However, an urgent need to find safe, reliable treatment options is no excuse to permit untested methods without including essential monitoring requirements.
It’s good that the settlement will result in knowing more about what is going on at this site. As Angie Rosser of the Rivers Coalition indicated, the state is tasked with evaluating new sources of pollution brought about by the fracking boom and it is incumbent upon us to find out sooner rather than later if we’re seeing harmful things, like radioactivity, affecting our water supplies.
[Appellants were represented by Mike Becher of Appalachian Mountain Advocates.]