Wednesday, April 20, 2011

PA Allowed Wastewater from Drilling into Unequipped City Treatment Plants

what do we get from the recent action by PA DEP to request drillers stop using municipal water treatment facilities to take in wastewater from Marcellus Drillers?

Heads should roll from previous administrations which enabled the treatment facilities to accept the wastewater when it was known such facilities were not able to properly deal with the wastewater.

Heads should roll from any previous legislators who supported this travesty.

Net the Truth Online

Drilling water ban a boon?
Official: EPA ruling could mean more volume at plant
April 20, 2011
It's too early to tell if Warren might benefit from a decision Tuesday by Pennsylvania to ban cities from accepting natural gas drilling wastewater, a Warren official said.

Tom Angelo, director of the Warren Water Pollution Control department, said revenues could rise if wastewater shipped from Pennsylvania wells consistently reaches a higher concentration level of salt.

The city's treatment system, which is legally capped at 100,000 gallons a day, has been handling 30,000 gallons to 80,000 gallons a day of brine water sent from Patriot Water Treatment in Warren, Angelo said.

That volume may change "very quickly," he said, following the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's order that companies drilling in the Marcellus Shale rock formation stop taking wastewater to 15 treatment plants by May 19.

"They'll be scrambling quickly. We'll probably see 700,000 gallons a week," he said.

The department is paid both by volume of water and the water's salt level. The Warren treatment plant will see more revenue if the salt content consistently reaches the allowed ceiling of 50,000 milligrams per liter of water, he said.

He pointed out Warren is better prepared than Pennsylvania cities to accept the polluted water, which drillers pump into 5,000-foot deep wells to shatter the shale rock and release natural gas.

"The biggest problem Pennsylvania had was they were allowing gas and oil companies to go directly to a (city) wastewater treatment plant and discharge with no limit on volume of water or level of salt," he said.


Other major gas-drilling states require wastewater to be injected it deep underground into disposal wells. But in Pennsylvania, some wastewater is treated by sewer authorities, largely in western Pennsylvania, and discharged into rivers from which communities draw drinking water.

Environment regulators cited elevated levels of bromide in rivers in western Pennsylvania in its announcement.

Officials at Pittsburgh-area drinking water authorities in Beaver Falls and Fredericktown say their facilities have flunked tests for trihalomethanes in the past couple years.

Complicating the matter is that, in addition to gas drilling, Pennsylvania's multitude of acid-leaching, abandoned coal mines and other industrial sources are also a major factor in the high salt levels that lead to trihalomethanes in drinking water.

Pennsylvania imposed tougher wastewater treatment standards for drilling wastewater in August, although it still allowed facilities that had been permitted to accept drilling wastewater before August to continue accepting limited amounts under the same treatment standards. Fifteen of those 27 facilities that were grandfathered under the August rules were still accepting the wastewater, the DEP said.

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