CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Legislation which would have clarified provisions in the state’s Horizontal Drilling Act ran out of time on the last night of the legislative session. The state Department of Environmental Protection is working now to determine the next move.
“These drill cuttings can go to landfills now, but they have to count against the monthly tonnage and they mix is with the municipal solid waste,” said state DEP Secretary Randy Huffman. “That doesn’t make any sense.”
The bill would have allowed landfill operators to exceed tonnage with the shavings and moved them into a separate cell of the landfill. The proposal went to a conference committee with House and Senate members Saturday night but ran out of time. State Senate President Jeff Kessler has asked the governor to include the bill in a special session.
Huffman said the bill is needed.
“We require this to be segregated into a separate cell,” he said. “It’s kind of like operating two different landfills on the same piece of property.”
The Horizontal Drilling Act required the shavings to be moved to the landfill instead of being buried on site. However, without the legislation, landfills are struggling to comply with laws regarding how much material they can accept. Huffman said for now only landfills in Clarksburg and Wetzel County are impacted. The Clarksburg landfill is only occasionally exceeding monthly tonnage, but he added the Wetzel County landfill is routinely over the limit.
Until now, the rules were being adjusted by the authority power of the secretary, but Huffman said that will have to be reevaluated. He’s unsure if it’s legal to continue operating under an executive order after legislation to codify the rule failed to pass.
“We’re able to keep all this stuff separated. It’s homogeneous, it has the same protections as any other landfill and we think that’s the environmentally smart thing to do,” he said. “It’s just a situation where the law hasn’t caught up with what needs to happen and what is the most environmentally sound thing to do.”