Waste Treatment Corp. will have to pay a $25,000 fine and upgrade its plant to meet strict discharge limits for total dissolved solids and chlorides under the proposed consent decree.
The company has faced recent scrutiny from regulators and a lawsuit from environmental advocates after scientists with the Department of Environmental Protection found in 2012 that the plant’s discharge was harming water quality and aquatic life in the river. As part of the proposed agreement with the state, the company will have to install treatment improvements by Jan. 1, 2016 then conduct studies to ensure the water quality and biological community are restored downstream.
The treatment plant has been operating under a permit that sets no limit on the amount of total dissolved solids and chlorides it can send to the river from oil and gas and other waste streams. Although Waste Treatment stopped accepting shale drilling wastewater for discharge in 2011, it continues to release large amounts of salt. Continue Reading →
StateImpact Pennsylvania Reporters Katie Colaneri and Marie Cusick, left, lead a panel discussion on the health of the Delaware River watershed at WHYY in Philadelphia.
Thanks to all who participated in person and online in our Delaware River watershed event last night at WHYY in Philadelphia. In case you missed it, here are some of the highlights, including a Delaware watershed fact sheet and glossary of terms we handed out to our live audience. (You can check out that document below.)
So how healthy IS the Delaware River watershed?
Our panelists were asked to share some of the indicators they use to assess the watershed’s health and vitality. We also asked them to tell us how the watershed is doing by giving it a letter grade from A to F. Here’s what they said:
Waste Treatment Corporation in Warren, Pa. faces legal action from regulators and an environmental group over discharges to the Allegheny River.
Environmental regulators and a Warren County wastewater treatment plant are working toward a legal agreement to address harmful flows from the plant entering the Allegheny River.
Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Gary Clark said the agency is working with Waste Treatment Corp. on a consent decree that will bring the plant into compliance with state laws after DEP initiated a lawsuit against the company in Commonwealth Court last month.
Michael Arnold, Waste Treatment’s vice president of operations, said the plant has had several significant upgrades in recent years and the company intends to make more improvements as part of the consent decree with DEP.
He emphasized that the plant stopped discharging wastewater from Marcellus Shale natural gas development in 2011. The plant processes other forms of oil and gas wastewater, but it filters shale waste fluids and sends them to an injection well for disposal.
Environmentalists say Waste Treatment Corporation in Warren, Pa. continues to discharge oil and gas wastewater into the Allegheny River.
A Warren County wastewater treatment plant is violating federal and state laws by discharging improperly treated oil and gas waste fluids into the Allegheny River, an environmental organization claimed in a federal lawsuit filed today.
Clean Water Action said the company has violated permit limits on its discharges more than 400 times since 2010. The environmental group argues that the plant is also operating under a permit that does not allow it to discharge drilling wastewater at all but it continues to release about 200,000 gallons a day into the river while DEP considers the terms of a new permit.
“We would like to see some action taken to make sure that that kind of damaging and, we think, illegal discharge is stopped” while DEP sets appropriate permit limits, Clean Water Action’s Pennsylvania state director Myron Arnowitt said.
DEP has taken recent steps to address compliance issues at the plant, including filing a notice of coming legal action in Commonwealth Court last month. Arnowitt said the filing does not detail the state’s complaints against the company and a DEP spokesman said he could not comment Monday.
Joyce and Steve Libal run an orchard out of their 63-acre home in Apolacon Township, Susquehanna County.
It all started with beans.
Joyce and Steve Libal run a small orchard on their 63-acres in Little Meadows, Susquehanna County where they sell fruit and organic vegetables.
One day in early September, a friend came by to purchase ten pounds of green bush beans.
“In this area, with all the drilling going on, the conversations usually end up talking about the gas industry,” Steve Libal says. “And he just brought up that he had seen, he’s a borough councilman and they received a packet of information about a well pad behind our house.”
A map the gas company, Talisman Energy, sent to the municipality shows a plan for a well pad just beyond the thick row of trees at the back of their property. A dotted line shows a well bore moving 2,000 feet across their land. (You can see the map below.)
“I just thought this has to be some sort of horrible mistake,” Joyce said. “Someone made a mistake and we have to enlighten them so they can fix it.”
No one will ever live at 1101 Carter Road in Dimock again.
The 3.6-acre property is one of 18 in the Susquehanna County village where state environmental regulators in 2009 traced methane contamination in the water supplies back to faulty natural gas wells drilled by Cabot Oil and Gas Corp.
The last residents, Craig and Julie Sautner, were once outspoken critics of natural gas development. As part of a confidential settlement that ended their part in a bitter lawsuit against the company, the Sautners sold their property to Susquehanna Real Estate I Corp., a Cabot subsidiary, for $167,500 in August 2012 and moved out of the state. Last month, Cabot had the home demolished, leaving the lot largely empty save for a yard sign for Dimock Proud, a community group that supports natural gas drilling and promotes a positive image of the township’s environment.
Now, Cabot has sold the property, minus the oil and gas rights, to a neighboring family for $4,000. The deed stipulates that a home can never be built on the parcel: No building, according to the deed’s careful conditions, “shall be erected as or for or used or occupied as a residence or dwelling for human habitation.” The restriction applies “forever.”
The proposal largely codifies the agency’s existing procedures, which were adopted in May 2012 and revised several times since then. It addresses which wells are subject to the fee and the producers’ reporting requirements as well as how the fees are calculated, collected and distributed.
DCNR has described details of Anadarko Petroleum’s Loyalsock proposal in public meetings and resources posted online, but it had not previously released a copy of the company’s March 2012 development plan, which Anadarko had marked “confidential and proprietary.”
But in many ways, the redacted development plan, which is posted below, reveals less about Anadarko’s plans than DCNR has described, since pages of maps and details like the number of miles of new road development have been blacked out.
The before, during and after of the fracking fluid recycling process
A study published by the journal Environmental Science & Technology last week brought widespread attention to a fact Pennsylvania regulators have known for over two years: Radioactive material in treated oil and gas wastewater has accumulated in the stream sediment near a discharge pipe for a western Pennsylvania treatment plant.
According to a Department of Environmental Protection order from May, which is included below, Fluid Recovery Services found radiation contamination near two of its plants – the Josephine facility in Indiana County that discharges into Blacklick Creek (the focus of the recent journal article) and the Franklin facility in Venango County that discharges into the Allegheny River. The results were inconclusive at a third plant, the Creekside facility in Indiana County that discharges into McKee Run.