The Fayette County Commission voted unanimously today to pass an ordinance banning oil and gas waste within Fayette County. This ordinance is the first of its kind within West Virginia and outlaws the storage, disposal, or use of oil and gas waste in the county. Headwaters Defense, a local grassroots organization, delivered a petition containing 5,000 hand-written signatures in support of this ordinance.
“This is a big step in protecting our water and health here in Fayette County” said Brandon Richardson a local resident and organizer with Headwaters Defense. He continued “The passage of this ordinance today is due to the efforts of local residents who have worked for years to stop oil and gas waste disposal in Fayette County.”
Residents have pushed for this ordinance in part because of problems associated with a wastewater injection well operated by Danny Webb Construction (DWC) in Lochgelly, WV since 2002. A property owner neighboring the well site has documented spills, leaks, and releases of oil and gas waste into the Wolf Creek watershed on multiple occasions. On March 4 of 2014, the permit for Webb’s site was revoked, but they continued to operate without a permit for over a year. Despite complaints to several government agencies, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) reissued a permit for Danny Webb’s underground injection operations in September of 2015. 
Kristy Gilkey, a local resident and Headwaters Defense member, who has worked for years to oppose the well, said, “The County Commission has stepped in where the state of West Virginia and the DEP have failed to adequately protect our land, water, health and safety.”
The County ordinance has a provision that allows citizens to enforce penalties against corporations who violate the ordinance in both civil and criminal court. Headwaters Defense is holding a rally tonight at 7pm where they will discuss enforcement strategies. Fayette County is preparing itself for a legal challenge from Danny Webb Construction and the law firm that represents the corporation.
“We are determined to protect the rights of the citizens of Fayette County and we are prepared to defend this ordinance in court.” says Brandon Richardson, a member of Headwaters Defense.