Pennsylvania

Energy. Environment. Economy.

Where Does Pennsylvania’s Drilling Waste Go?

FracTracker.org documents PA's drilling waste

Natural gas drilling creates a lot of waste: brine, used fracking fluid and sand, not to mention the rock and dirt displaced by drilling.

StateImpact Pennsylvania has told you how more and more of the fluid is going to deep injection wells in Ohio. We’ve mapped the location of these Ohio wells, and plotted the handful of injection sites in Pennsylvania.

The amount of fracking fluid drillers are treating and recycling continues to increase, too: the amount of fluid reused by Pennsylvania drillers jumped by nearly 370 percent during the last reporting period.

But recycling and deep injection wells don’t tell the whole story. Drilling “cuttings” – that’s the dirt and rock – are carted to landfills, and more than 1 million barrels of brine went to waste treatment centers last year.

The folks at FracTracker have put together a comprehensive page of tables and maps documenting where Pennsylvania’s drilling waste is headed. It’s worth checking out.

Here’s FracTracker’s summary of the data:

In terms of solid waste, the majority–218,000 tons–is actually shipped out of state.  On the other hand, most of the liquid waste is dealt with in Pennsylvania (15.1 million barrels), but the 1.7 million barrels sent to Ohio is certainly significant. The 3.5 million barrels sent to an “unspecified location” is actually good news: the vast majority of that is recycled for use in subsequent wells. Not only does this give operators something constructive to do with the waste they produce, it also helps preserve fresh water resources in the region by offsetting water withdrawals….While the recycling efforts are starting to make a dent in the overall picture of how Pennsylvania handles its Marcellus Shale waste fluids, it still far from being the primary means of disposal. In fact, two thirds of the liquid waste produced is still being treated at brine and industrial waste facilities…

 

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