Under the Horizontal Well Act, passed during a December 2011 special session, the wastewater impoundment study was to examine "the safety of pits and impoundments ... including an evaluation of whether testing and special regulatory provision is needed for radioactivity or other toxins held in the pits and impoundments."
"Upon a finding that greater monitoring, safety and design requirements or other specialized permit conditions are necessary," the DEP is required to propose new rules to establish those requirements.
Huffman said he anticipates that lawmakers will want to see some results from this study when the new legislative session begins in mid-February, and he hopes to have a report completed by then.
In another study, the DEP was to examine "the noise, light, dust and volatile organic compounds generated by the drilling of horizontal wells" to determine if a 625-foot buffer zone between drill sites and homes was adequate. If the buffer distance is determined to be inadequate, the DEP would have authority to propose new rules to deal with the issue.
Huffman said that study, due to lawmakers by Dec. 31, 2012, is not close to being finished.
"That one has a lot of holes and gaps in it," Huffman said. "There is still some data to be collected. We don't have a date yet on when it will be done."
The third study required by the legislation -- examining air pollution from oil and gas operations -- is not due to lawmakers until July 1, 2013.
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.