West Virginia landfill barred from taking sludge from Pennsylvania

BRIDGEPORT (AP)  West Virginia regulators want to know how natural gas drilling sludge rejected by a landfill in Pennsylvania wound up in a landfill in Bridgeport.

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection ordered the Meadowfill Landfill to stop accepting the sludge until the agency determines why the Arden Landfill in Chartiers, Pennsylvania, rejected it, DEP spokeswoman Kelley Gillenwater told media outlets.

The sludge came from a Range Resources natural gas drilling operation in Pennsylvania.

Range Resources spokesman Matt Pitzarella told media outlets that the Pennsylvania landfill found that the waste contained radioactive materials slightly above background levels. He said the levels weren’t unsafe and did not pose a risk to workers or the community.

Pitzarella said the amount of waste was less than a pickup truck load.

Because it comes from deep in the Marcellus Shale, drilling sludge is more radioactive than topsoil.

The Meadowfill landfill was the closest disposal facility with appropriate permits, Pitzarella said.

Waste Management owns both landfills.

Waste Management meets or exceeds all regulatory requirements in West Virginia and elsewhere, company spokeswoman Lisa Kardell said in a statement issued to media outlets.

“Before accepting drilling waste at Meadowfill landfill, all required tests are performed and documentation is submitted to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection for approval,” she said.

A new West Virginia law requiring radiation monitoring of drilling waste at landfills does not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2015.

“The DEP is currently in the process of providing additional controls regarding the acceptance of drilling waste,” Kardell said. “Waste Management supports the DEP’s efforts on the new regulations.”

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review first reported the Meadowfill Landfill’s acceptance of the sludge.

Range Resources is exploring disposal options since the Meadowfill Landfill can no longer accept the waste, Pitazrella said.

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