EPA seeks wastewater info from gas drillers

PHILADELPHIA, PA, May 12, 2011 -- EPA has requested information from six natural gas drillers in the Marcellus Shale region about how and where they dispose of or recycle drilling process wastewater...

May 12th, 2011

PHILADELPHIA, PA, May 12, 2011 -- EPA has requested information from six natural gas drillers in the Marcellus Shale region about how and where they dispose of or recycle drilling process wastewater.

"We want to make sure that the drillers are handling their wastewater in an environmentally responsible manner," said EPA mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. "EPA is continuing to work with PADEP officials who are on the front lines of permitting and regulating natural gas drilling activities in Pennsylvania."

EPA's action follows a request by PADEP asking drillers to voluntarily stop taking wastewater to Pennsylvania wastewater treatment plants by May 19. EPA wants to know where drillers are now going to dispose of their wastewater and will work with PADEP to ensure EPA has access to this information. The companies must report back to EPA by May 25 with information on the disposal or recycling of their drilling process water.

The drilling companies contacted are: Atlas Resources, Talisman Energy, Range Resources, Cabot, SWEPI, and Chesapeake Energy Corporation.

EPA has also requested that PADEP:

• Notify EPA when facilities are accepting hydraulic fracturing wastewater so EPA can assess if a pretreatment program or additional permit limits are needed;
• Apply water quality standards for the protection of drinking water at the point of wastewater discharge, rather than at the point of first downstream drinking water intake;
• Consider more "representative" sampling where drinking water facilities are downstream of treatment plants accepting Marcellus Shale gas wastewater; and
• Be aware that EPA has sent a letter to PADEP's southwest regional office clarifying that Federal Underground Injection Control permits are required for any placement of hydraulic fracturing wastes in injection wells or bore holes.

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