WV Drill Cuttings in Landfill Bill Passes in Record Time

Last Thursday MDN told you legislation to codify into law a current directive by the state’s Dept. of Environment Protection to allow higher volumes of drill cuttings in WV landfills may get a second chance (see WV Drilling Cuttings in Landfill Bill May Get 2nd Life, If…). It already passed! On Friday during a special session of the legislature called by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, House Bill (HB) 4411 was one of ten pieces of legislation listed by the governor for consideration. The bill was voted on and passed (full copy of the bill embedded below). HB 4411 passed in record time after being dropped for consideration during the regular session. It is a certainty that Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin will sign it since he wanted it on the docket in the first place.

Most media stories, stoked by anti-drillers, focus on the “limitless” aspect of the directive-now-passed-law. That is, the law lifts arbitrary small caps on the amount of drill cuttings (leftover rock and dirt from drilling) that can be hauled to a landfill. Those stories would have you imagine this new law means that any municipal landfill can willy nilly now accept mountains of “radioactive” dirt–and that consequently West Virginia will become a radioactive hot zone. Zombies everywhere. Yes, limits are lifted under this bill. But, at the same time, the law stipulates that if a landfill accepts larger amounts of cuttings (over the previous lower cap), it must build a special, separate cell where the cuttings will be stored. The landfill must also monitor leachate from the cell to ensure nothing nasty leaks out. And the landfill must install radiation detectors to monitor truckloads of cuttings coming into the landfill. In other words, this is a good bill that not only gives drillers a safe place to dispose of drill cuttings–it protects WV citizens. But you wouldn’t know that from reading most stories…

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