Posts Tagged ‘wastewater’

Marcellus Spills Fill PA Waterways

July 25, 2013

“Pretty Please” Doesn’t Stop Surface Discharges

Nearly everyday it seems there’s a new report of Marcellus shale gas waste spilling in Pennsylvania’s wetlands and streams, DEP violations like this recent “discharge” reported by SkyTruth:

Issued to Energy Corporation of America on July 22, 2013 — Code 307CSL: Discharge of unconventional industrial drilling waste to waters of Commonwealth without a permit in Clearfield, Girard Township (ID#673076)

And this large spill reported by Laura Legere in DEP: Spill At Well Site Seeps Into House, Miniature Horse Farm in The Times Tribune on May 1, 2013:

An unknown amount of the fluid escaped the pad, flowed down a hill, crossed a road and entered the basement and garage of a nearby farmhouse, Ms. Connolly said. It soaked property at the horse farm, whose owners were out of state, but a farmhand kept the animals safely away from the fluid.

On both sides of the shale gas safety debate, experts agree that “surface spills” hold the greatest threat for surface water and groundwater contamination. Pennsylvania, by the way, is home to more fresh water resources than any other state in the continental U.S.

Surface spills of fracturing fluids appear to pose greater risks to groundwater than hydraulic fracturing itself,” writes Bryan R. Walsh in Shale Gas: It’s Not the Fracking That Might Be the Problem. It’s Everything Else, Time Magazine, on February 17, 2012. While Walsh pays short shrift the long term impacts of deteriorating wellbore seals, his premise certainly rings true right now. Every week, we see more spills, more overturned tankers and leaky valves, each one a small-scale, highly toxic event unto itself, and it invariably concludes with a dead stream and DEP asking drillers to promise not do it again.

A Water-Tight Case?

And then there are spills so big and negligent that the EPA has no choice but to step in and sue the driller, as is the case of this EXXON/XTO Energy violation, reported earlier this week:

US Sues Exxon Fracker in Pennsylvania Over Polluted Drinking Water:  A federal lawsuit claims hydraulic fracking has polluted public drinking waters in Pennsylvania with toxic wastes by Erin McAuley, AlterNet, July 24, 2013

Yup, it’s true. Obama Administration Sues Exxon for Polluting Pennsylvania Drinking Water with Toxic Fracking Waste, AllGov.com, July 24, 2013   (more…)

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Tracking Frack Wastewater “Cradle to Grave”

June 6, 2011

“Tracking Fracking Water Goes High-Tech”

ARTICLE by Bill Toland, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A worker connects a hose to a truck to collect foam from a drill pit used in a Rice Energy Marcellus Shale drilling rig in Lone Pine, Washington County. The foam is created by combining soap, air and water, and is used to flush out drill cuttings to the surface. Once in the drill pit, it breaks down again into soap and water. The water is then taken to a disposal facility for treatment.

Water, as much as natural gas, is the lifeblood of the Marcellus Shale play. Drillers need millions of gallons of water to flush the gas out of its hiding spot, deep below ground. Water is hauled by truck, imported by pipeline, collected on-site by retention impoundments and spirited away to a treatment or disposal facility once the fracking fluid has been spent. Not only do drillers need a lot of water, they also need a very specific amount of water — per week, per day, even per hour.
So how do they track all that water? (more…)