Thursday, June 17, 2010

PA to Regulate Marcellus Wastewater

Today, the Pennsylvania state Independent Regulatory Review Commission approved new rules that will protect Pennsylvania’s streams and drinking water supplies against total dissolved solids (TDS) pollution from Marcellus Shade drilling wells. The new rules ensure that rivers and streams do not exceed the safe drinking water standard of 500 milligrams per liter.

"Millions of Pennsylvanians rely on the state’s rivers and streams for drinking water,"  Governor Edward Rendell told the press. "So we cannot allow new, heavily polluted sources of wastewater to contaminate them. That’s why these regulations are so important." The new regulations now await review from the environmental resources and energy committees in the state house and senate.

John Hanger, Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) noted that as the drilling industry expands their activities in the Marcellus Shale, the volume of wastewater returned to Pennsylvania streams could increase exponentially. "The only way to protect our water resources is to implement new wastewater treatment standards for the drilling industry," Hanger said. "All other industries are responsible for the waste they generate, and the drilling industry should be no exception."

Hanger noted that drilling wastewater contains very high levels of chlorides and sulfides, dissolved solids that contribute to the TDS measure. These must be removed from wastewater before the effluent is discharged into surface waters. High TDS levels have damaged industrial equipment, caused drinking water companies to issue drinking water advisories and even led to a massive fish kill on Dunkard Creek. Some of Pennsylvania’s rivers are already nearing their capacity to absorb and dilute additional levels of TDS.

Several states, including Texas, Oklahoma, New York, Iowa, Virginia, Arkansas and Tennessee, prohibit returning any drilling wastewater to streams. Read the DEP press release here.

1 comment:

  1. I hope everyone affected or concerned about our water and strengthening the regulations concerning the natural gas drilling will be attending citizens lobbying day on this Tues. in Harrisburg. We will participate in a rally also. For more info, contact Clean Water Action, Nathan Sooy or you can email me and I'll send info