FAYETTEVILLE — The Fayette County Commission’s chambers shook with cheers and applause Tuesday as commissioners unanimously passed an ordinance to ban the storage, disposal or use of oil and natural gas waste countywide.
The ordinance interprets state code as allowing county commissions to pass ordinances to protect public health and safety and eliminate public nuisances.
It is the first of its kind in West Virginia.
Under the ordinance, no permit, order or charter issued by a state agency will be deemed valid in Fayette County, including permits issued by the Department of Environmental Protection.
Citizens began urging the commission to pass a county ordinance due to controversy over an injection well site in Lochgelly operated by Danny Webb Construction, positioned just upstream from a drinking water intake on New River. As previously reported by The Register-Herald, water testing conducted by Duke University showed frack waste had infiltrated Wolf Creek, a tributary to the New River.
Newly appointed Commission President Matt Wender made it clear the county is acting protect its citizens’ health and the environment where the DEP has failed.
“While we looked for the DEP to protect the interest of our health, they have given us little or no confidence they are doing that. They allowed Danny Webb to operate for a year without a permit, which was a great undermining of any conviction we had that the state, through the office of the DEP, was looking out for the wellbeing of our citizens,” he said.
Commissioner Denise Scalph added that the county has been used as a dumping zone at the detriment of its citizens.
Twelve-year-old Eden Gilkey gave an impassioned plea for the commission to pass the ordinance, noting that many who have lived near the injection site, even her classmates, have become sick…
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