Before they could view documents for a recently proposed vast industrial landfill, Doddridge County residents were forced to travel almost 2 hours each way to an office in Kanawha County. Such documents could easily have been more readily available to the affected residents.
Even though such files are digitally stored, the WV Department of Environmental Protection “DEP” failed to provide easy internet access even to a copy of the completed permit application,
Completely omitted among all the provided information is that this $2 million landfill will be used to process and store extremely toxic, radioactive sludge. Thus, at the August 23 permit hearing, local citizens were insufficiently alerted to potential impacts to local sourcewaters. This was an obvious coverup by the WV DEP.
Other impacts will be substantial. At least 5-1/4 miles of streams will be destroyed. They are the type of streams that are considered important water resources. Fresh natural water sources are already over-stressed in Doddridge County. There are two dozen or so private local water wells that have reportedly been ruined by indolent oversight of local gas drilling permits issued by the DEP .
If this landfill is permitted as proposed, a number of wetlands will be destroyed. Recent permits authorized by the WV DEP have already allowed the destruction of these valued resources where Mark West's cryogenic unit expansion is now located. Only .05 percent of Doddridge County's total acreage are considered wetland. The additional loss of these already scarce resources will deal a serious blow to the County's water resources.
It is extremely troubling that the waste proposed for disposal is described in the permit simply as “salts”, Various salts can be beyond toxic. Once in water, some are corrosive, many caustic or flammable and some even form toxic gas.
Most alarming, though, is that the proposed permit describes sediment ponds that will apparently be used to settle heavy metals and other frack wastewater contaminants into sludge containing dangerously high concentrations of radionuclides.
Prior to banning horizontal hydrofracturing altogether, New York's State Department of Environmental Conservation logged extremely high Radium 226 levels in the type of water those pits will be turning to sludge. One peer-reviewed scientific study reported that millions of barrels of this wastewater in Pennsylvania and New York were over 3,600 times more radioactive than the federal limit for drinking water, and 300 times more radioactive than the Nuclear Regulatory Commission limit for nuclear plant discharges.
Despite the radioactive hazard, state and federal exemptions actually prevent hydrofracking wastewater from being properly regulated as hazardous. Such loopholes circumvent adequate baseline comparison tests which could otherwise determine if radionuclides and other relevant toxins are leaking from the landfill.
The 1600-year half-life of Radium 226 will long outlast the permit's bond requirements and every form of containment proposed. Radium 226 is colorless, odorless, tasteless, and being water soluble, travels easily up the food chain. When ingested, it replaces calcium in the joints where it will irradiate blood and connecting tissue. Radiation poisoning causesbirth defects, early aging and cancer.
Until the public is properly provided with all of the facts, and unless the risks to the long term health of the local community and the environmental tradeoffs are fully addressed, the award of Doddridge County's Class F landfill should be postponed.
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