Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Frack Waste Treatment Plant in Owego?

While I was deliberating budget matters during our town library board's monthly meeting, the members of the county planning board were deliberating whether or not to allow a frack-fluid treatment plant into the next town over.

Somehow a draft copy of the Tioga County (NY) Planning Board minutes for the Wednesday, October 21 meeting ended up in my in-box; reading them was nearly as exciting as reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

Patriot Water, LLC hopes to establish a treatment facility where the old Chevy dealership used to be. The business, they say, will treat hydraulic fracturing flowback fluid and transform it into "distilled water" which can be re-used by gas drillers for further fracking. It will also create a whopping 20 jobs.

The treatment facility will store frack fluid and their treated water in tanks on-site. They plan to build an enclosed impoundment (pool) to store incoming frack fluid - lined with two 36-ml rubber linings and assembled using bolts.

Patriot Water LLC estimates that the average truck traffic to their facility in the near future will be 4 trucks/hour running 24 hr/day - and that will increase over time. They also note that although their proposed site is in the 100-year 500 -year * flood plain (and there have been at least two big floods there in the 20 years I've lived here) that this will not be an issue. In fact - they're not required to obtain a floodplain permit! (corrected 10/ 27 at Owego Town Planning Board meeting)

The real gotta-turn-the-page reading came with the comments. Andy Blocksom, the Patriot Water representative, insisted time and time again that the 200,000 to 240,000 gal/day of frack fluid they'll process is not toxic. "It's just water with a small portion of heavy metals and brine," he said - and we all know how healthy arsenic and cadmium can be, not to mention Radium 226 and 228, just two of the "Normally Occurring Radioactive Materials" (NORM) that are sure to be present in flowback from Marcellus wells.

But, hey, DEC doesn't call this stuff toxic. They don't even call it hazardous. To DEC all this frackin' stuff is simply considered "industrial waste".

On top of that, if there is a flood Patriot Water will simply stop accepting frack fluid and let what they've stored just "dilute and drain" with the floodwater - into the Susquehanna.

At the end of the discussion the Tioga County Planning Board recommended approval of the site plan. Tonight - Tuesday, October 27 - the Town of Owego Planning Board will meet at 7pm to address the Patriot frack fluid ("this is not toxic stuff") treatment facility. Update later....

1 comment:

  1. Hmm...Schlumberger has a facility in Midland, TX. Now there is a huge plume of hexavalant chromium in the Trinity Aquifer and over 40 private water wells are contaminated.

    If it's not toxic, they should be willing to provide full disclosure.