Halliburton Energy Services has agreed to pay $1.8 million in fines to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection over numerous solid waste management violations at an Indiana County facility. You can read the settlement here.
The DEP says in a Tuesday release that Halliburton’s Homer City facility stored, treated and transported hydrochloric acid without obtaining proper permits between 1999 and 2011. That’s about 50 miles east of Pittsburgh.
DEP says the waste came from various natural gas well sites, and Halliburton transported it without proper trucking records and without using a licensed hazardous waste hauler. DEP says there’s no evidence the 255 violations caused harm to the public or the environment, and Halliburton signed a consent agreement on Feb. 7.
Halliburton, which is based in Houston, says it is working with DEP in an ongoing effort to ensure the safe development of natural resources.
According to the settlement, Halliburton also did not properly classify the hydrochloric acid as a hazardous waste and sent the waste to an unauthorized treatment and disposal facility.
The department became aware of the previous violations during two inspections in June 2011. DEP spokesman John Poister says Halliburton still operates the Homer City facility to ship unused or “new” hydrochloric acid, but no longer stores waste there.
As StateImpact Pennsylvania has reported, hydrochloric acid plays a key role in the hydraulic fracturing process:
After the natural gas well’s hole is bored, drillers will pump thousands of gallons of water mixed with acid down into the well. The point, as drilling website FracFocus explains, is to clear out cement debris left over from the drilling stage, and to help open up the underground shale fractures.
After the “acid stage” is complete, drillers inject slickening fluid and sand into the well, in order to flush the natural gas out.