The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has renewed Danny E. Webb Construction’s two underground injection control well permits in Lochgelly amid a wave of controversy.

Webb operates two injection wells in Fayette County where liquid waste associated with the oil and gas industry is injected underground.

This renewal comes one month after property owner North Hills Group terminated a lease agreement with Webb, asking him to stop injecting waste on its property.

North Hills Group owns land where one well is situated, Webb owns the other. The wells are permitted separately and the permits last five years.

North Hills Group Board President Patricia Hamilton sent a letter terminating the lease with Webb on July 24, copying it to Randy C. Huffman, DEP Secretary;  James Martin, Chief of the DEP Office of Oil & Gas; and the West Virginia Environmental Quality Board.

However, Kelley Gillenwater, spokeswoman for the DEP, said Webb told her office Aug. 21 that the lease had not been terminated.

Hamilton said Tuesday that she believed the group’s letter was clear — the lease has been terminated — and the group has received no assurance the waste disposal has stopped.

Lochgelly resident Bradley Keenan, who appealed the DEP’s decision to allow Webb to operate without a permit since March 17, 2014, expressed concern over the agency’s decision.

“The North Hills Group property owners have sent the termination letter to both the DEP and the Environmental Quality Board. They both have it. By renewing the permit, the DEP is allowing illegal dumping onto other people’s property,” he said.

The repermitting has rendered a series of appeals before the Environmental Quality Board moot.

The board ruled in April 2015 the DEP violated the law by allowing the Lochgelly wells to operate without a permit. At that time, the board gave the DEP 30 days to issue Danny Webb Construction Inc. a new permit or shut down operations.

In response, the DEP issued an order to stop all operations at the site on May 8; however, that order was reversed by the West Virginia Environmental Quality Board on May 14.

Since then Webb has been allowed to continue operating.

— E-mail: splummer@register-herald.com; follow on Twitter @Sarah_E_Plummer

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