Formation of the

  Coal Mining
  Mountaintop Removal
  Electricity from
    coal burning

  Reforming mountaintop

  Solid waste disposal
  Deep mining of coal
  Coal, people, politics,
    and money


Solid Waste Disposal     Another continuing threat to valleys is solid waste landfills. The problem has been aggravated by the desire of urban northeastern states to have their refuse hauled to rural West Virginia. The 1980s and 1990s were ripe with statutory regulation and lawsuits, so there is much recent history regarding landfills.

      The pertinent state statute is the Solid Waste Management Act [W. Va. Code ch. 22, art. 15]. A principal focus of the statute is limiting the monthly amount in tons of solid waste to be placed in the "solid waste facility." In March 1998 the state Legislature enacted Senate Bill 178, modifying state solid-waste law, to overcome constitutional infirmities in the old statute, which was held by a U. S. District Court judge to discriminate against out-of-state trash haulers. West Virginians have proclaimed loudly that they do not want their state to become the garbage pit of the east coast.

     Valleys have become the repository of hazardous wastes, too. The Hazardous Waste Management Act [W. Va. Code ch. 22, art. 18] designates WVDEP as the lead agency to secure federal money ("benefit") and requires that the state's waste disposal program be "equivalent to and consistent with" the federal Solid Waste Disposal Act [42 U.S. Code sec. 6901 et. seq.]. 

      Other federal statutes of interest are the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)[42 U.S. Code sec. 6921, et. seq.] under which EPA regulates hazardous waste from "cradle to grave."  The federal "Superfund" (CERCLA) statute [42 U.S. Code sec. 9601 et. seq.] , and the 1986 amendments known as SARA, are familiar to many Americans as efforts to clean up toxic waste sites. SARA title III includes community-right-to-know mandates regarding hazardous chemicals.

      In recent years there has been a push to restore and use abandoned, polluted industrial sites known as "brownfields."  West Virginia's brownfields statute [W. Va. Code ch. 22, art. 22] is called the Voluntary Remediation and Redevelopment Act  and DEP's regulations contain a "West Virginia Remediation Agreement For No Further Action Investigation Activities." 

     As part of the federal-state regulatory scheme, West Virginia's Office of Waste Management within DEP is in charge of enforcing state law concerning subject matter covered under RCRA and CERCLA.
Last updated on Tuesday, July 25, 2000