Pennsylvania Gas Drillers to Stop Giving Treatment Facilities Wastewater

Source: 
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

Environmental Protection Secretary Krancer calls for end to antiquated disposal practices that are harmful to the environment

At the direction of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Krancer ordered Tuesday all Marcellus Shale natural-gas drilling operators to cease by May 19 delivering wastewater from shale gas extraction to 15 facilities that currently accept it under provisions of last year’s total dissolved solids regulations.

The 2010 revised regulations require publicly owned treatment works and centralized waste treatment facilities to treat new or increased discharges of the dissolved solids to more stringent standards. Removing dissolved solids 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 is non-toxic but insidious, eventually turning 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.

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