LETTER TO THE EDITORf

Fracking Waste Chemicals Allegedly Found in WV Near Drinking Water Inputs

Updated 2 years ago Special to HuntingtonNews.Net
Open Letter to the WV Health Dept.

The following is a condensed version of an open letter to the Commissioner of the Bureau of Public Health from the Kanawha representative for the WV Mountain Party:  
  
Dr. Gupta;
  
Congratulations on being named Commissioner of the WV Dept. of Health and Human Resources' Bureau of Public Health.  As a Charleston resident, I was impressed by your leadership and honesty during the recent water crisis.

 
This open letter is to ask for your participation in the upcoming public hearing held by the WV Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) for the permitting of two Lochgelly horizontal hydrofracturing (frack) waste injection wells that have been operating out of compliance, and unpermitted, for over a year, and to apprise you of the surrounding issue.
 
It may become a challenge for you because, though the problem of industrial dumping is affecting the health of WV citizens, most solutions are being blocked by those who finance lawmakers overseeing state agency budgets.  This unfortunate situation has resulted in what follows:
 
Several years ago, six, small communities across southern West Virginia, showed an unusually high rate of illness which appeared to be caused by the injection of coal-prep slurry into underground mines.  Field studies conducted by WVU researchers, under the strict guidance of the DEP at the behest of the governor who owned an energy brokerage, failed to make the connection between coal slurry injection and the pollution.    While WVU claimed that no pre-injection tests were required, hence, no conclusions could be drawn, the Dept. of Health and Human Resources finally investigated and recommended a halt to the practice.
 
It seems one problem is that the DEP lets the extraction industries oversee themselves.  This includes for-profit frack waste injection wells and landfills; which, unmonitored, can influence contracted labs to produce desired test outcomes.
 
Moreover, in April, 2013, unlike coal slurry, SB 243, an amendment, reportedly proposed by DEP Director Huffman, was promoted by gas industry lobbyists and passed.   This law prohibits the listing of frack fluid chemicals, which makes water-supply monitoring nearly impossible. 

USGS scientists, nonetheless, found the same mix of unique chemicals that routinely appear in frack waste in samples taken downstream from the Lochgelly wells and upstream from a public water intake.  These chemicals are so pernicious, and the waste that contains them so unmanageble, that three states and several nations have banned fracking.   Further, the waste is dangerously radioactive.  Since the EPA  does not require it, however, the DEP does not effectively test frack waste for radioactivity.
 
By state law, injection of hazardous waste is not permitted in any underground injection control program in West Virginia, but the DEP is clearly allowing it.   Dr. Gupta, if even one-tenth of the 4000 underground injection control wells overseen by the DEP are managed as poorly as those in Lochgelly, perhaps you should consider adding your name to the petition the Natural Resources Defense Council sent last summer demanding that the EPA rescind West Virginia's right to govern this program.
 
That's why I am respectfully  requesting that you participate in the DEP's hearing at Oak Hill H.S., 350 W Oyler Ave., Oak Hill, from 6 to 9 PM, April 21.  I intend to provide persuasive evidence at that hearing that these wells have been leaking for some time, and will demonstrate how and why the DEP is hiding this fact.
 
  Sincerely,
 
  Tom Rhule
  1404 Watts St.
  Charleston, WV 26302    304 989 1629
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