DEP targets drilling-related storm runoff

CHARLESTON (AP) — West Virginia regulators are developing a permit to control stormwater runoff from drilling-related construction activities.

The Department of Environmental Protection is seeking public comment on a draft general permit through April 19. A public hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. April 9 at the DEP’s headquarters in Charleston.

The proposed permit would regulate stormwater discharges from construction activities associated with exploration, production, processing or treatment operations or transmission facilities that disturb at least 1 acre.

While many companies act responsibly, they are not required to control this runoff, said Scott Mandirola, director of the DEP’s Division of Water and Waste Management.

“If someone’s constructing an oil and gas well site, their permit will have erosion and sediment control requirements in it by law,” Division of Water and Waste Management director Scott Mandirola told The State Journal. “But pipelines and certain compressor and pump stations don’t fall under that. In some cases, say, for a pipeline, you’re talking about 50-foot- to 100-foot-wide areas that go on for miles.”

Federal law exempts these construction activities but the DEP is authorized under the state Water Pollution Control Act to regulate them, he said.

“This will put these activities on an even footing with every other industry in the state that’s doing construction activity greater than an acre,” he said.

Public comments on the draft permit can be submitted by mail to the Department of Environmental Protection, Attention: Tonya Ombler, 601 57th Street, SE, Charleston, WV 25304, or by email to Tonya.K.Ombler(at)wv.gov.

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