The United States Coast Guard has a proposal to allow shale gas drillers to transport fracking waste water on barges.
The Coast Guard did not cite environmental risks in its policy proposal but focused on the threat to barge workers. It may allow barge transport if companies analyze the chemicals in each shipment, keep radioactive particles below set levels and limit workers’ exposure to gas venting from the tanks, according to a policy proposal published Wednesday.
The decision occurs after more than a year of study by the Coast Guard, which oversees the nation’s waterways. Opposition is starting to build.
All three responses posted online during the first day of open comment called it a bad idea. Drinking water intakes could be exposed to harmful risks, two residents of Ohio said.
Wastewater is a big business in modern shale drilling. Millions of gallons of water go into wells to crack underground rocks — hydraulic fracturing — and release gas, and companies spend millions of dollars to recycle that water for new wells or to ship it, often several hundred miles away, for safe injection underground.
The proposal is open for public comment until November 29.