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Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Manifestation of an Epiphany, Frack Waste Plan

An epiphany is an experience of sudden and striking realization. Generally the term is used to describe scientific breakthrough, religious or philosophical discoveries, but it can apply in any situation in which an enlightening realization allows a problem or situation to be understood from a new and deeper perspective.

by Laurie Barr 12/14/2017

At the Headwaters of the Allegheny River, Coudersport Borough Manager Bev Morris was approached by Scott Blauvelt of JKLM Energy LLC (JKLM)4 with a “water remediation strategy” involving the regional sewage plant, suggesting the facility, AKA Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW), could be a location to “dispose of their fracking water,” according to the April 2016 Coudersport Area Municipal Authority meeting minutes1.

The following month (on May 20, 2016), Thomas Joseph and Mike Broeker of Epiphany Solar Water Solutions5 met with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) staff for a “pre-consultation permitting” meeting for Centralized Waste Treatment (CTW) Facilities. And three days later, on May 23, Joseph and Broeker attended CAMA’s monthly meeting2 and presented the board members with a “Letter of Intent (LOI).2” After a discussion, the CAMA board members voted 4-1 in favor and signed the (agreement) Letter of Intent (LOI).

The LOI spelled out the plan. "Epiphany and CAMA intend to dedicate time, effort and expense to enable deployment and operation of Epiphany oil and gas produced water purification solutions." And as arranged, the sewage authority has since invested heavily in the venture.

The plan is for Epiphany to construct a facility in close proximity of the POTW, to pre-treat wastewater from unconventional wells and discharge that pre-treated waste to the POTW for further treatment & discharge to the Allegheny River under CAMA’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.

On July 12, 2017, CAMA board members leased the land next to the sewage plant for Epiphany’s pre-treatment facility. According to the terms of the lease addendum, CAMA agreed to pay for premises improvements, including the “purchasing, hauling, dumping, leveling and compacting of gravel and/dirt fill in the area of the premises to be leased by the tenant, including all required engineering and permitting for the successful completion of the project.”

Last month, during CAMA’s (Nov 27th) meeting CAMA’s engineer explained as part of the review process of the Chapter 106 (Floodplain Management) permit, filed with the DEP, notification went to the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission (PHMC) and upon their review they determined that archeological resources could be present. This requires (CAMA) to have a “phase one archeological survey” completed.

The CAMA engineer provided a cost estimate of $4.559.51 from a company that did previous work for the authority. He explained if artifacts are found and deemed to be significant, CAMA would then need to enter into a storage agreement with the state museum for “$350 dollars per cubic foot” per year; for whatever is required to be stored. And he explained “we can’t move that permit forward without the phase one study.”

The engineer then delivered another fiscal blow by explaining that he had been informed by the DEP that CAMA would also need to file a “change in waste stream” form, amending the sewage plant’s current NPDES permit. He estimated the cost to be around six thousand dollars and said that this would be a 6-9 month process. He emphasized that this is required, “if CAMA wants the project to keep moving forward.”

CAMA’s solicitor George Stenhach explained the $4.559.51 archeological study is an “unforeseen cost” that would have to be addressed so it would not be a cost to the authority. And with regard to the $6,000 NPDES permit amendment, Solicitor Stenhach explained “that’s a whole separate ball game, it’s beyond the scope of the lease.” He continued, “that has yet to be negotiated, as an underlying issue as to whether or not we (CAMA) would proceed with the project.”

According to the (LOI) agreement, Epiphany’s facility would pre-treat wastewater and then discharge that pre-treated waste at “less than 500 parts per million” Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) to CAMA’s sewage plant for further treatment and discharge into the Allegheny River under the existing CAMA NPDES permit.

However, after Thomas Joseph and Michael Broeker of Epiphany Solar Water Solutions met with the DEP for a “pre-consultation meeting” on May 20, 2016 to discuss potential permitting paths forward for Epiphany’s proposed facility, the DEP outlined the requirements in a follow-up letter to Epiphany3, explaining, in order to satisfy regulations, discharge to a POTW from the pre-treatment facility would be subject to TDS limitations of 95.10.

The EPA implemented new “pretreatment standards for discharges of wastewater from unconventional oil and gas wells to POTWs” in June of 2016.

The Epiphany facility plans are currently undergoing a technical review by DEPs engineers and the Air Quality Exemption application is being reviewed by the DEP’s Air Quality program.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program, under the Clean Water Act (CWA) requires public notification & public comment period of at least 30 days. During that 30 day period anyone interested may submit comments and/or request a public hearing.

According to DEP, waste from the region’s unconventional wells is currently processed at zero discharge facilities.

DEP officials have set up an email account for those interested in submitting comments regarding the Epiphany Solar Water Solutions pre-treatment facility application. They (DEP) explained, they may not be able to respond to all of the questions and comments, however DEP assured that all comments will be considered during the permit review process. The email address is: RA-EpncEpiphany@pa.gov

The DEP stressed “if” the permits are authorized “we will take any action needed to protect the state’s waterways.”

In October a group of residents compiled a list of questions and concerns and submitted them to the DEP and also presented them (in November) to the CAMA board. CAMA agreed to review them and respond.


Copies of the Letter of Intent, CAMA meeting minutes, lease, lease addendum, the facility application and the air quality exemption application are available at savetheallegheny.org.

1. April Meeting Minutes and Letter of Intent: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BwV75wo6lhJPNVBMa3p4dUdHNlU/view?usp=sharing

2. May 2016 Meeting Minutes: https://docs.google.com/document/d/11YlF84MzkY8FnsYCfK2HwtLFOvxrZsCYlA5yHhpxkeU/edit?usp=sharing

3. DEP pre-consultation meeting follow-up letter laying out permitting options for Epiphany:

4. Public Heralds coverage of JKLM’s “North Hollow” Well: http://publicherald.org/invisible-hand/north-hollow/

5. BBB Epiphnay Solar Water Systems: https://www.bbb.org/pittsburgh/business-reviews/water-filtration-and-purification-equipment/epiphany-solar-water-systems-in-pittsburgh-pa-71018039
6. Letter of Intent: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1TLXCWG3NjURXXuffvR19OO_1O5t6MyhAI1zgLmww8u4/edit?usp=sharing

7. Lease https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BwV75wo6lhJPTEJtSmRqUkJCVms/view?usp=sharing

Epiphany Water SolutionsEpiphany Solar Water Systems, LLC
Epiphany Solar Water Systems is a Pittsburgh, PA based manufacturer of water purification/desalination systems. Our technologies are currently being utilized in the treatment of produced water from Hydro-fractured natural gas wells.



Anonymous said...

It doesn't appear to be Epiphany's design, the application filed with the DEP is for Tetra Tech facility.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for laying out the whole situation, Laurie! Now people can read everything for themselves and come to their own conclusions. I believe JKLM thought they could "steamroll" the residents of Potter County. They can't! We live here, and we can decide how we want to treat our beloved "God's Country"!

Tim Glassmire said...

Move on and leave us alone!!!

Anonymous said...

Tetra Tech is an engineering and consulting firm, they are hired by Epiphany to do the design work.

Anonymous said...

Three things you should never discuss, Religion, politics and drilling.

Anonymous said...

There is so much here that I don’t know where to start! This is not acceptable. This is an abuse of power. CAMA can’t use public funds to largely benefit JKLM and/or Epiphany. Board members can’t take from public’s coffers to benefit of a private entity. And equally troubling is there’s nothing in the lease that says how CAMA plans to recover the public’s money if the DEP and EPA permits are denied or DEP shuts the facility down and that is a very real possibility. And I can’t believe there’s no bond in place for CAMA to recover the public’s money if Epiphany simply walks away! This is unheard of! The whole plan stinks. This scheme has put CAMA and CAMA alone on the hook if radioactive sediment is found downstream. CAMA had a duty to handle the public’s money more responsibly than this. The first question a judge would ask board members is; would you have funded the JKLM/Epiphany waste treatment plan if you were spending your own money? This is NOT HOW PUBLIC FUNDS CAN BE SPENT. Due diligence would have revealed Epiphany’s past and their D- BBB rating. I look forward to hearing how this is explained by board members down the road.

Anonymous said...

10:50:00 AM Thank you for the clarification. After attending a CAMA meeting I was under the impression that TJ was the engineer that designed the system to purify water in world countries. He seemed more like a snake-oil salesman than an engineer to me.

Anonymous said...

If George Stenhach is involved as a solicitor then that should be enough for anyone to want to steer clear of this whole shitty mess.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like someone needs to get an attorney and get this taken care of

Anonymous said...

5:22 agree. The board should know better than to follow his advice.