WV State agency for enforcing oil and gas drilling laws
Reporting Violations: Information on Filing a Complaint
with the WV DEP Office of Oil & Gas
The WV DEP Office of Oil and Gas is the state agency responsible for enforcing oil and gas drilling laws. You can and should file a complaint with the Office of Oil and Gas (OO&G) if a driller on your land, or anyone’s land, is not complying with the Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Field Manual, is allowing pit water to spill out without treating it, or otherwise doing things that may be illegal. You many also file complaints and report suspicious activity to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). (Click here for information on their “Eyes on Drilling” Tipline.)
Filing complaints is important to correct the problem. Filing complaints is also important, because it gives elected officials who may actually want to do the right thing proof that there are problems out there.
We have found that it is best to make complaints to the OO&G office in Charleston, as opposed to contacting the inspector directly. This is also what the agency prefers. Helen Hardman is the person that typically logs the complaints and contacts the inspector. The best thing to do is to take pictures of the problem and start keeping a diary of what you see and who you talk to about it. It is best to take the pictures with a digital camera, if you have one, and e-mail your complaint along with the pictures to Helen.M.Hardman@wv.gov. You can also mail them in or fax your complaint to the number below. Or you can call on the phone. Again, the person to contact at this time is Helen Hardman. She can be reached at (304) 926-0499, ext. 1650 or (304) 926-0450 (OO&G main number). If Helen is unavailable, someone else can take the complaint through the main number.
Complaints may also be mailed or faxed to:
Office of Oil and Gas
601 57th Street, SE
Charleston, WV 25304-2345
FAX: (304) 926-0452
If possible, we recommend filing complaints electronically via and including digital photos. Please consider sending a copy of your complaint to us at email@example.com and to your legislators. (Click here to find out who your legislators are and how to contact them). Then follow up and let us know how the DEP responds. We may be able to help.
Emergency spills and other pollution should be reported immediately by calling 1-800-642-3074.
This web site will tell you how to do a full inspection of a well site
Below are some guidelines from DEP’s Citizen’s Guide on filing a complaint:
- Before you file an environmental complaint, it is important to understand that your name may be released by the agency. In order to remain anonymous, you must request your complaint to remain anonymous.
- Complaints received by phone are always accepted; however, it is recommended that you follow up the phone conversation with a written complaint. The written complaint starts a paper trail that is much easier for the agency to track and monitor.
- You also should document the names of the people you contact, the dates of phone conversations, and the topic of the conversation. If you made a written complaint, keep a copy of your letter, and the written responses you receive.
- When a complaint is called in, it is important that it be delivered to the appropriate field office. If you want to speak to the inspector personally, your call may need to be transferred to a field office. Be patient. It may seem as though you are being given the runaround, but we want to connect you to the correct office.
- The response time for an inspector to visit the site of the complaint may depend on the urgency of the complaint. The inspectors are assigned to specific areas of the state, and most inspectors serve several counties and many facilities.
- When filing a complaint, it is extremely helpful to the agency if you explain your problem in as much detail as possible. Include information like the time and date the problem occurred; the exact location to be investigated as well as directions to the site; a phone number so the inspector can call you; explicit details of the problem.
Information on EPA “Eyes on Drilling” Tipline
(Excerpted from an EPA Press Release, 1/27/2010)
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established the “Eyes on Drilling” tipline for citizens to report non-emergency suspicious activity related to oil and natural gas development. The agency is asking citizens to call 1-877-919-4EPA (toll free) if they observe what appears to be illegal disposal of wastes or other suspicious activity. Anyone may also send reports by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Citizens may provide tips anonymously if they don’t want to identify themselves.
In the event of an emergency, such as a spill or release of hazardous material, including oil, to the environment, citizens are advised to call the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802.
Public concern about the environmental impacts of oil and natural gas drilling has increased in recent months, particularly regarding development of the Marcellus Shale formation where a significant amount of activity is occurring. While EPA doesn’t grant permits for oil and gas drilling operations, there are EPA regulations, which may apply to the storage of petroleum products and drilling fluids. The agency is also very concerned about the proper disposal of waste products, and protecting air and water resources.
EPA wants to get a better understanding of what people are experiencing and observing as a result of these drilling activities. The information collected may also be useful in investigating industry practices. The agency is also counting on concerned citizens to report unusual or suspicious activity related to drilling operations. EPA is asking citizens to report the location, time and date of such activity, as well as the materials, equipment and vehicles involved and any observable environmental impacts.
Tip line number (toll free):
Tip email address: email@example.com
Tip mailing address:
EPA Region 3
1650 Arch Street (3CEOO)
Philadelphia, PA 19103-2029
Documenting Suspicious Activity
To the extent possible, record:
• Location of the event
• Date of the event
• Time of the event
• Who, if anyone you interacted with during the event
Photos and videos are great ways to document observations. Be sure to record the date and time the photo or video was taken. Email your digital files, or mail your photographic prints, video cassettes, or CD-ROM disks to EPA using the contact information above.
When describing what you observed, include:
- Activity taking place, including description of equipment and materials involved
- Descriptions of vehicles
- Company name or logo
- License plate number
- Type of vehicle
- Destination of discharge (physical location and stream name, if known)
- Environmental impacts: discoloration, dying vegetation, dead fish or other wildlife
Thank you for reporting this information to EPA.
(Note that the EPA usually first responds by contacting the State to investigate. If that happens and you are unhappy with what the State's action, maybe call EPA again.)