West Virginia County Denied Regulation of Frack Wastewater, Regional Problem Unveiled

By Eliza Laubach

A federal judge recently invalidated an ordinance concerning hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, passed in West Virginia last January. The Fayette County Commission’s ordinance banned fracking wastewater from being stored, disposed of or used in the county, except for temporary on-site storage.

The commission argued that county officials are allowed to protect residents’ health and welfare, but Judge Copenhaven ruled that the state has greater authority to manage fracking wastewater. The decision also served as a summary judgment on a lawsuit EQT Production Company filed against the commission regarding the ban and came just before a hearing was set to be held on the case. The commission plans to appeal the decision, according to The Register-Herald.

Frack wastewater contains endocrine disruptors, which are linked to birth defects and certain cancers. Researchers found these chemicals in a Fayette County creek near a storage site owned by a construction company that also sued the commission, according the The Register-Herald.

A June report by The Center for Public Integrity reveals that within the Marcellus Shale gas-drilling region, states have inconsistently regulated the industry’s by-products, which also include sludge, rock and soiled equipment. For instance, the report found intrastate transportation of radioactive sludge to landfills without much oversight. In May, environmental and community groups filed suit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency seeking stronger regulations for frack waste.

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