FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. — The Fayette County Commission approved an ordinance to ban the storage, disposal, or use of oil and natural gas waste in Fayette County on Tuesday.
“We’re doing all we can to preserve the nature of Fayette County,” Commission President Matthew Wender said. “Fayette County’s economy has largely over the years shifted to be a county that’s dependent upon tourism.”
The county ordinance defines any violation as a misdemeanor charge, calls for a financial penalty of $1,000 to $5,000,000 dollars if the ordinance is violated, and offers the possibility of 90 days to one year in jail.
“The asset that we have as a county if we’re going to pursue tourism as a growing future for our economy, we’ve got to preserve these natural resources that we have,” Wender said.
Wender told MetroNews he expects a legal challenge to put this ordinance in the cross hairs of a court.
“This will be challenged very quickly,” he said. “At our meeting when we did our second reading of this, there were attorneys representing each of the two entities that currently have wells in the county as well as representatives of the oil and gas industry.”
According to Wender, the majority of Fayette County residents who support the ordinance are afraid of the possible health effects that can be caused by fracking.
“It’s the unknown nature of the chemicals that are being injected into the ground, the uncertainty that they’ll stay there, the uncertainty that they won’t leech into the water system, and what are the harmful ill-effects they’ll cause?” Wender said.
Lockgelly and Kingston are two of the areas with injection-control well sites where citizens are concerned by the potentially hazardous effects.
“There are a lot of people lay claim that our cancer rates in certain areas of Fayette County–Lockgelly being one of them–are extremely high compared to norms,” he said.
Grassroots group have celebrated the ordinance for it’s passage, but have similarly said they expect a legal challenge.