Some Treatment Facilities Will Stop Getting Shale Water [Times Leader, Wilkes-Barre, PA]

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

HARRISBURG -- At the direction of GovernorTom Corbett, acting Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Krancer has called on all Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling operators to cease delivering wastewater from shale gas extraction to the 15 facilities that currently accept it under special provisions of last year’s Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) regulations.

He is asking drillers to halt the practice by May 19.
 
“While the prior administration allowed certain facilities to continue to take this wastewater, conditions have changed since the implementation of the TDS regulations," Krancer said. “We now have more definitive scientific data, improved technology and increased voluntary wastewater recycling by (the) industry. We used to have 27 grandfathered facilities; but over the last year, many have voluntarily decided to stop taking the wastewater and we are now down to only 15. More than half of those facilities are now up for permit renewal. Now is the time to take action to end this practice.”

One of the 15 are in the eastern half of Pennsylvania -- Sunbury Generation in Snyder County. The other 14 facilities are in Western Pennsylvania. They are:

* Clairton City Municipal Authority, Allegheny County                                                                                      * McKeesport City Municipal Authority, Allegheny County
* Johnstown Redevelopment Authority, Cambria County
* Ridgway Borough, Elk County
* Franklin Township Sewage Authority, Greene County
* Tunnelton Liquids Co., Indiana County
* Hart Resource Technologies Inc., Indiana County
* Brockway Area Sewage Authority, Jefferson County
* Punxsutawney Borough Municipal Authority, Jefferson County
* Reynoldsville Borough Authority, Jefferson County
* New Castle City Sanitation Authority, Lawrence County
* Franklin Brine Treatment Corp., Venango County
* Waste Treatment Corp., Warren County
* Kiski Valley Water Pollution Control Authority, Westmoreland County
 
The 2010 revised regulations require publicly owned treatment works and centralized waste treatment facilities to treat new or increased discharges of TDS to more stringent standards. Removing TDS from water also removes bromides. The previous administration, however, chose to allow facilities that had historically accepted drilling wastewater to continue to accept it, as long as they did not increase their input load of wastewater.
 
Recent surface water sampling has found elevated levels of bromide in rivers in the Western portion of the state, where the majority of natural gas drilling is taking place. Bromide, itself non-toxic, turns into a combination of potentially unsafe compounds called Total Trihalomethanes once it is combined with chlorine for disinfection at water treatment facilities.
 
“While there are several possible sources for bromide other than shale drilling wastewater, we believe that if operators would stop giving wastewater to facilities that continue to accept it under the special provision, bromide concentrations would quickly and significantly decrease,” Krancer said.