Delegate John Pino requested two things of the state Department of Environmental Protection during a November interim meeting. The first was information about the permit status of an injection well in Fayette County, his district. The second was for the department to conduct tests of a creek near the site for possible contamination.
Three weeks later, Pino said he still hasn’t heard from the agency.
The Lochghelly injection well is located between Fayetteville and Oak Hill and has concerned citizens in the area for years.
In March, the site’s permit was revoked, but that same day the Office of Oil and Gas issued an order allowing the site owner, Danny Webb Construction, to continue to accept waste until another permit application is submitted.
In June, a group of citizens and environmental groups asked the state Environmental Quality Review Board to review and reverse the order. Board members have yet to release a decision on the matter.
“We just don’t know the status of the permitting process as we speak,” Pino said Monday. “I’m not clear and that bothers me.”
The DEP has tested the water in Wolf Creek in the past. The creek runs adjacent to the site and feeds into the New River above a public drinking water intake.
Those tests showed increased levels of contaminants, but did not conclude the pollution came from the injection well.
Pino worries the proximity leaves the public vulnerable to another incident like January’s Freedom Industries spill.
“We surely would not want that to happen in another part of the state. We never want that to happen anywhere,” he said.
Pino said James Martin, chief of the DEP’s Office of Oil and Gas, reached out to him shortly after the interim meeting, but they could not agree to a time to meet when the delegate was still in Charleston. Pino said hasn’t heard anything from the department since.
Pino lost his bid for re-election in November and his term will expire in December.