Facility Faces Opposition

Proposed landfill’s location concerns area residents

Morgantown Dominion Post
1 July 2011
By Michelle Wolford

BRUCETON MILLS — More than 150 people turned out Thursday at the Bruceton School gymnasium to learn more about a proposed landfill for oil and gas waste. Hosted by Friends (FOC) of the Cheat, the forum focused on the environmental risks involved in locating such a facility near the confluence of the Little and Big Sandy creeks.

Amanda Pitzer, executive director of FOC, said much of the activity around Marcellus shale drilling is in the northern part of Preston County — a gas-gathering line, a compressor station for it, and the proposed the landfill.

The landfill’s location is FOC’s primary concern, Pitzer said, because “it’s close to the banks of the Little and Big Sandy.” She said FOC and other organizations have worked hard to clean up the waterways from the effects of acid mine drainage. She said that waterway is one of very few creeks that drains to the Cheat River that is not impaired. The area is also a whitewater destination that brings tourism dollars to the county.

The proposed site is 250 acres off Hobart Benson Road. “The edge of the property is maybe 500 feet from the Big Sandy,” she told the audience that packed the Bruceton gym.

The landfill would be the first of its kind “designed solely for this waste, and CCS Midstream’s first for Marcellus waste.” The site will take drill cuttings, drill mud, which is used to lubricate the drills, and dried drill backwater, or fracking water — a proprietary combination of chemicals used in the gas fracturing process. Among the chemicals used are BTEX — benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene. “All four are carcinogens,” Pitzer said.

All are exempt from federal hazardous waste protection, she said, “So what happens in 20 to 25 years when the landfill shuts down? There’s no money to clean it up.”

C. Laura Dulaney is a Bruceton town council member, realtor and business owner who attended the forum.

She said Pitzer “did a great job of presenting the facts as she knew them. More people need to get involved and understand the importance of this project and how it would affect our land and streams and property values.

“My biggest concern is what it’s got to mean for the future, for my daughter,” she said. “I love the water and I have a big concern now, but also what are we leaving for the future?”

Rick Benson lives on Hobart Benson Road, about half a mile from the proposed landfill site. He said CCS Midstream has done core borings at the site, which he said is a reclaimed strip mine.

“I’d like to see the core borings fail,” he said, adding that the site deemed unsuitable for the purpose. “We’ve created so many bad things ourselves that we don’t know how to get rid of,” he said. “If we’d just left well enough alone. ...”

Pitzer said the first hurdle for CCS Midstream is the Preston County Solid Waste Authority (SWA). The SWA has told CCS that it won’t accept Hobart Benson Road as the access to the facility, and has asked the company to provide an environmental impact statement.

Pitzer urged those concerned about the landfill to make their opinions known to the county commission and to the SWA.

The next meeting of the SWA is at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Preston County Extension Service office on Court Street in Kingwood.