Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pennsylvania asks drillers to stop sending wastewater to ill-equipped treatment plants

Pennsylvania regulators are asking the natural-gas industry to voluntarily stop sending hydraulic fracturing wastewater to treatment plants that are not equipped to remove some contaminants. "Last year, the state adopted new regulations that require most plants that accept drilling waste to meet strict standards for removing pollutants, including barium and strontium," Robbie Brown of The New York Times reports. "But 15 treatment plants are exempt from those tough new rules. Tuesday’s announcement discourages companies from treating waste at those plants."

Most states require drillers to dispose of wastewater by injecting it into deep disposal wells, but Pennsylvania sends hydraulic fracturing waste to sewage and industrial treatment plants, leading state and federal regulators to question whether the plants are capable of removing some contaminants, Brown writes. "Now is the time to take action to end this practice," Michael Krancer, the state’s acting environmental protection secretary, told Brown. "We now have more definitive scientific data, improved technology and increased voluntary wastewater recycling by industry." It is unclear whether the companies will comply with the request. (Read more)

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