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Friends of Blackwater says citizen comments prompted hearing for Tucker drill waste site

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After receiving 1,100 comments opposing a permit to dispose of nearly 600 barrels of brine and other drilling waste daily by injecting it into an inactive well along a Tucker County stream, the state Department of Environmental Protection has agreed to hold a public hearing on the matter.

The permit, sought by Pillar Energy LLC of Charleston, would authorize the operation of a disposal well along Horseshoe Run near the community of Leadmine to serve the company’s gas drilling activity in the area. The disposal well is located within about 250 feet of the trout stream, according to a map accompanying the permit application.

According to the Friends of Blackwater, a public hearing on the permit request is expected to take place sometime in March, following a two-month extension of a public comment period that ended last week.

Comments submitted to the DEP by members of the conservation group raised concerns about the dangers of drilling waste leaking from the injection well or nearby storage tanks into the groundwater or Horseshoe Run, a tributary of the Cheat River. Major flooding took place along Horseshoe Run in July 2018 and June of last year, they noted.

If the permit in its current form is issued, it “could undermine years of restoration work on the Cheat that has been completed to return ecological health to the watershed,” said Judy Rodd, Friends of Blackwater director.

Reach Rick Steelhammer at rsteelhammer@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-5169 or follow

@rsteelhammer on Twitter.

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