Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

October 30, 2013

Environmental group sues company over waste dumped into in Allegheny River

Source: The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 28, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

An industrial treatment plant near Allegheny National Forest is dumping illegal amounts of salty, contaminant-laden wastewater from drillers into the Allegheny River in violation of state and federal laws, an environmental group charged in a federal lawsuit.

The state director of Clean Water Action said the group can’t say whether Waste Treatment Corp.’s discharges into the river in Warren include wastewater from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the process of getting gas from the Marcellus shale.

“From our perspective, we just don’t want it in the river,” said Myron Arnowitt, whose group asked a federal judge in the lawsuit filed Monday to order Waste Treatment to stop discharging and fix any damage done to the river.

Waste Treatment did not return a call for comment.

The company has said it does not discharge fracking water, Arnowitt said. Marcellus drillers statewide announced a voluntary effort in 2011 to stop sending fracking water to such plants.

The company has a discharge permit dating to 2003, but Arnowitt said it does not cover the types of pollutants it is discharging. The state Department of Environmental Protection is reviewing an application for a new permit.

“We’re concerned that DEP is delaying action,” he said. “While they’re trying to figure out what this permit should be, (the company) continues to discharge.”

A DEP spokesman said he could not comment.

The DEP in September filed notice in Commonwealth Court that it was suing Waste Treatment but did not include any specific complaints.

A DEP study last year found pollutants reduced water quality downstream of the plant to levels that can’t support aquatic life, leaving the water two- to four-times saltier than sea water, Arnowitt said. Warren is about 150 miles upriver from Pittsburgh.

Clean Water Action is suing under the Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act.

 …

September 20, 2013

State to undertake $500,000 cleanup of Pottstown Plating

Source: http://www.pottsmerc.com, September 18, 2013
By: Evan Brandt

The state is stepping in to make sure a half-million-dollar environmental cleanup at a closed plating facility in the borough gets completed after the bankrupt owner stopped work.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection announced Wednesday it would take over the removal of hazardous materials left over at the former Pottstown Plating on South Washington Street at the intersection with Industrial Highway.

The company, which performed electroplating, opened in 1950 and closed in 2009 just before going bankrupt, according to the DEP.

When the DEP inspected the site in 2009, it found a number of environmental issues that needed to be addressed and the company’s owners hied a contractor to removed hazardous waste there.

However, work stopped in 2010 “due to lack of funding,” and when the DEP issued an order for the clean-up to continue in October 2011, no further action was taken, according to the DEP release.

DEP spokesperson Lynda Rebarchak said the estimated cost for the cleanup is $553,851.

“Since this does not include off-site lab analysis costs, or extra funds for unexpected expenses, the final cost is likely to be higher,” she wrote in an email to The Mercury.

So far, there is no evidence there have been any releases into the environment.…

September 13, 2013

Pennsylvania drillers may soon face tightened environmental regulations

Source: http://www.lexology.com, September 5, 2013
By: Scott J. Bent, Baker & Hostetler LLP

Oil and gas drillers in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale formation may soon find themselves subject to more stringent environmental protection standards under regulations proposed by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (“the Department”). The Department announced on August 27, 2013 that the proposed regulations were approved by the state’s Environmental Quality Board. The proposal now moves to the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office and the Office of General Counsel, followed by a public comment period.

The proposed regulations address four general issues: 1) protection of public lands and resources; 2) orphan and abandoned well identification; 3) pollution containment practices; and 4) protection of water resources.

Protection of Public Resources

Under the proposed regulations, applicants for well permits must notify the appropriate public resource agency (such as the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources or the Pennsylvania Game Commission) if a well site is within a certain distance of public lands or resources. For example, notice is required if a site is within 200 feet of a national natural landmark or within 1,000 feet of a water well, surface water intake, reservoir, or other water source used by a water purveyor.

The resource agency has an opportunity to provide comments and recommendations to the Department and the well operator. The Department makes the final determination on the permit application, and it may add conditions to the well permit to mitigate potential impact to public resources.…

August 7, 2013

Gas leaks from shale wells rare

Source: The Columbus Dispatch, August 5, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

Minutes after Debby Kline flicked a lighter near a bathroom sink in her Portage County house in northeastern Ohio, she called the fire department.

A sink-to-ceiling flare erupted when she tried to light a candle on Dec. 21, she told a TV news show. State oil and gas regulators are still investigating what caused natural gas to bubble out of the faucet.

Kline’s Nelson Township house is within a half-mile of two Utica shale wells that state records show were drilled and fracked in October and November.

Videos of burning water in Ohio and Pennsylvania households have helped bring attention to shale drilling and fracking, but such incidents are rare. Most complaints associated with oil and gas drilling are about drinking-water wells that run dry or produce water that’s discolored, smelly or clogged with sediment.

But in some cases, natural gas from poorly cased and cemented wells can seep into drinking-water wells, making faucets spit fizzy water that some homeowners can ignite.

“We encourage people not to do that, because there is an explosive risk,” said Kevin Sunday, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

Ohio Department of Natural Resources officials said they could not discuss Kline’s case while it is being investigated. Kline also declined to comment.

Oil- and gas-industry advocates say shallow pockets of natural gas can leak into groundwater. They say drilling gets blamed for something that has been going on, unnoticed, for years.…

May 1, 2013

Franklin Forks Residents Concerned About Methane In Water Wells

Source: http://www.wicz.com, April 30, 2013

A response wasn’t long in coming, following the latest bit of news on a very controversial subject. Just one day after the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection said methane found in private water wells in Franklin Forks Township was naturally occuring and not the result of natural gas development, one of the homeowners whose well was tested still has questions.

Tammy Manning said she’d like to see the tests themselves that the DEP conducted and not just the results.

She says the agency isn’t making those tests available.

“Very vague. I think they’re not giving us the full information. I asked them for the test results and how they determine that and they won’t give it to me,” said Tammy Manning. Franklin Forks Township resident.

A spokesperson for the DEP says while the tests aren’t available to the public, a homeowner would likely have a chance to see them. A spokesperson for Energy-In-Depth, an industry-funded group, says the DEP investigation closes the door on the idea the methane migration in Franklin Forks was due to gas drilling.

Manning says she might have her water tested privately.

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April 30, 2013

Pa.: Drilling not to blame in tainted-well case

Pennsylvania environmental regulators on Monday concluded that Marcellus Shale drilling was not responsible for a high-profile case of methane contamination of private water wells in northeastern Pennsylvania.

The state Department of Environmental Protection said it has closed the books on an investigation of the methane migration in Franklin Forks, Pa., which anti-drilling celebrities Yoko Ono and Susan Sarandon visited in January.

Citing a 125-page consultant’s report, DEP says the methane in some residents’ wells is naturally occurring shallow gas, not production gas from well drilling.

Matthew and Tammy Manning last year sued WPX Energy, the company that drilled gas wells about 4,000 feet from their Susquehanna County home.

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February 7, 2013

Fracking With Bad Water

Source: Forbes, February 4, 2013
By: James Conca

Acid mine drainage causes severe environmental...

Typical acid mine drainage or mine influenced water causing severe environmental problems by releasing acid, iron and sulfate in large amounts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, you have a dwindling supply of fresh water for drinking and for wildlife, you have large amounts of contaminated water from old mining operations that we don’t know what to do with and are really expensive to clean-up, and you have the need for large amounts of water for the dramatic increase in fracking operations that don’t need to use fresh or potable water but are presently using both fresh and potable water from these very dwindling supplies.

This looks to be an opportunity too good to pass up. Let’s use the mine water for fracking and stop using the precious fresh water. Sounds easy. And the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) is trying to do just that.

Based on a recommendation by Governor Corbett’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission, the PADEP published a white paper in January detailing how the agency intends to review proposals from Oil & Gas drillers on using Mine Influenced Water (MIW) for drilling operations (PADEP white paper).

It remains to be seen if the policy is supported by environmental organizations and the Oil & Gas industry, but it should succeed as long as we can sort out the liability issues.…

January 18, 2013

New Pa. Auditor Will Probe Impact Of Fracking, DEP Regs

Source: Law360, January 16, 2013
By: Matt Fair

Minutes after he was sworn in as the state’s new auditor general on Tuesday, Eugene DePasquale said his office would undertake a sweeping investigation into potential water pollution resulting from the hydraulic fracturing boom in the state’s Marcellus Shale region.

DePasquale, a former Democratic legislator in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, told supporters during his inaugural address that one of his first actions would be to launch an inquiry into the Department of Environmental Protection’s protocols for monitoring pollution generated by gas drillers in the state.

“Today it is clear: We must strive to grow our economy and protect our environment at the same time,” DePasquale, a former DEP staffer, told a group of supporters in the state museum after his swearing-in. “That is why one of my first official duties as auditor general will be to initiate a performance audit of the [DEP] to make sure our constitutional right to pure water is not being compromised by natural gas drilling.”

While recognizing the immense economic potential of natural gas drilling, he said that he wanted to ensure that Pennsylvania’s waterways don’t suffer the same fate they saw as a result of the state’s coal boom.

“While natural gas drilling has brought new opportunities to small towns and rural communities throughout the state, that same drilling poses challenges to our environmental regulators, our local communities and our natural resources,” he said. “At the same time, we cannot forget mistakes made in the past. Our Pennsylvania waterways are still suffering — despite billions of dollars in cleanup — from inadequate oversight of the coal industry in previous generations.”…

October 4, 2012

Mobile Home Park magnate will pay over $1 million for drinking water and waste water violations

Source: http://www.fox43.com, October 1, 2012

The owners of 73 mobile home park communities, which house thousands of residents, have agreed to pay a $1,339,000 penalty to resolve allegations that they violated federal and state environmental laws and regulations concerning the treatment of sewage and drinking water. The settlement agreement was filed in federal court on Friday. Frank Perano and a series of his corporations and related entities own, operate, and/or manage mobile home parks in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Virginia. After a joint multi-year investigation, EPA and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) found evidence of more than 4,300 Clean Water Act violations at 15 mobile home parks in Pennsylvania where the defendants treat waste water, and more than 900 Safe Drinking Water Act violations at 30 mobile home parks also in Pennsylvania. The complaint filed with the proposed consent decree in federal court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania details violations during the past five years. The monetary settlement will be divided between the United States and Pennsylvania. The Clean Water Act violations involved illegal discharges of partially treated or untreated sewage into nearby streams and failure to properly operate and maintain treatment facilities. Safe Drinking Water Act violations generally involved the defendants’ exceedances of federal drinking water standards for certain pollutants and their failure to notify residents about drinking water problems. EPA and PADEP identified the violations by conducting inspections, sharing technical and legal expertise, and requiring the defendants to provide documentation concerning sampling, operation and maintenance, and other regulated activities. …

July 7, 2011

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.…