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Report: drilling waste records don't add up


Marie Cusick/ StateImpact Pennsylvania

Drilling waste at a site in Tioga County.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Marcellus Shale natural gas drillers have under-reported the amount of waste they send to landfills.
The paper analyzed records of nine landfills in the southwestern part of the state and found they reported three to four times the amount of waste that drillers claimed to have dropped off.
The paper found EQT Corp. reported 21 tons of drill cuttings in 2013, while six landfills in southwestern Pennsylvania reported receiving 95,000 tons.
The state Department of Environmental Protection is looking into the discrepancies.
From the Post-Gazette:

The EQT case — 21 tons vs. 95,000 tons — may be the most dramatic example of how data submitted by oil and gas operators don’t match up to reporting required of landfills. The DEP said it has been aware of the problem for “a number of months” and is looking into why the different reporting channels aren’t yielding the same results.
When the EQT figures were brought to its attention, the DEP launched an investigation into the company’s reporting practices, said John Poister, a spokesman for the agency.
“We don’t understand why there’s that discrepancy,” [DEP waste management director] Mr. Forbeck said.

The DEP told the paper one of the reasons for the vastly different numbers could be that drillers report their waste electronically to the department, and may be making estimates. In contrast, landfills file paper reports to DEP’s regional offices that include more detail and more types of waste.
In his recent audit of the DEP’s handling of Marcellus Shale development, state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, said he wants the department to implement a cradle-to-grave tracking system for drilling waste.

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