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Friday, September 12, 2014

Warren County firm agrees to stop discharging Marcellus Shale wastewater

Warren County firm agrees to stop discharging Marcellus Shale wastewater
September 11, 2014 2:01 PM

By Don Hopey / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A Warren County waste treatment firm has agreed to build a state-of-the-art treatment facility to settle a federal lawsuit alleging it had illegally and repeatedly discharged Marcellus Shale gas drilling wastewater containing high concentrations of salts, heavy metals and radioactive compounds into the Allegheny River.

Under terms of the settlement agreement with Clean Water Action, a statewide environmental organization, Waste Treatment Corp. has agreed to stop discharging up to 200,000 gallons a day of shale gas drilling wastewater. Within eight months, it will build the new treatment facility that will have the ability to remove more than 99 percent of the pollutants.

The settlement, which was signed by the treatment company and Clean Water Action Wednesday, also requires the company to reduce its discharge of conventional drilling wastewater by 35 percent.

“From the start our goal has been to protect the Allegheny River and the health of people who use it,” said Myron Arnowitt, state director for Clean Water Action. “This settlement creates a long-lasting solution that will greatly improve our water quality.”

The settlement represents the first time an existing industrial treatment plant discharging gas drilling wastewater in Pennsylvania agreed to install effective treatment technology to protect local rivers, Mr. Arnowitt said.

In 2011, the state Department of Environmental Protection fined Waste Treatment $100,000 for violating its water discharge permit, which does not permit it to treat oil and gas wastewater. And in 2012, DEP water testing found levels of chloride, bromide, lithium, strontium, radium-226 and radium-228 downriver from the treatment plant that were more than 100 times higher than those found upriver from the plant. Read more...

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