Pennsylvania Fracking Waste Heading to Ohio

Source: http://news.yahoo.com, July 5, 2011
By: Jason Gallagher

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for natural gas along the Marcellus Shale deposit in Pennsylvania is one of the most controversial topics in the state. One of the factors that influence the anti-fracking crowd is the waste water that is generated from the process. Earlier this year, due to concerns from drilling chemicals and contaminated water, Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna River was named the most endangered river in the United States by American Rivers.

When fracking companies send high volumes of water laced with a number of chemicals into the ground to release the gas, some of that water is returned to the surface with a number of contaminants. That water needs to be reused or disposed of somewhere.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection was so concerned with the high levels of salt in the waste water it asked fracking companies to stop sending the water to municipal treatment facilities in the state in an effort to keep the tainted water out of rivers, according to My Fox Philly. In many other major gas drilling states, the water is disposed of by injecting it into disposal wells deep into the ground. With few options in Pennsylvania for disposal injection wells, fracking companies have started to ship their waste water across the border to Ohio.

Pennsylvania has six active deep injection wells for disposal compared to more than 170 in Ohio, largely due to the geological makeup of the ground beneath the states. Companies in the Keystone State sent almost 15 million gallons of water across the border in the last few months of 2010. Obviously waste disposal is a major cost for fracking companies, which has resulted in as much as 90-100 percent of the water used being recycled for use in future drilling operations.

However, the water can only be reused for a limited amount of time, which means disposal locations in Ohio are poised to capitalize on Pennsylvania fracking. In June of last year, Ohio quadrupled fees out-of-state haulers have to pay to dump waste into the state’s wells. Of course, Pennsylvania drillers have decided the increased cost is worth the trip and the fee; they are lining up to send the waste across state lines. So far this year, of all the waste disposed in Ohio’s deep injection wells, almost half came from other states.

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