West Virginia’s Policy on Disposing Marcellus Drilling Wastewater: Injection Wells

West Virginia’s policy on the wastewater produced from hydraulic fracturing is to dispose of it by pumping it into injection wells.

Dave Belcher, inspector supervisor for the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection Division of Oil and Gas, said that West Virginia has laws in place to address the leftover water.

“Once (companies) get into the product phase, we expect them to collect all their water,” said Belcher.

He said that from there, the water is trucked to disposal wells to be taken care of and that each company that produces fracked water is required to hold a disposal permit.

Fracked water would fall into Class II disposal, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards, and Jamie Peterson, who works for DEP Division of Oil and Gas in permitting, said that the main disposal method is underground injection wells.

He said that once the water is collected into tanks, it’s taken to disposal wells, where it is pumped back into the ground, often to depths of 8,000 feet below the surface. The wells’ integrity is tested every five years to be sure that the fracked water hasn’t risen to the surface, above the confinement layer that is laid on top.

“We’ve never had anything come back to the surface,” said Peterson.”(There is) monthly monitoring, so if there is a problem it can be seen.”*

*Cumberland News-Times (Mar 28, 2011) – Laws cover fracking water disposal, explains Division of Oil and Gas supervisor