PA Town Proactively Protecting Area Roads from Marcellus Drilling Truck Traffic

The elected supervisors of Ross Township (Luzerne County, PA) are being proactive about protecting the roads in the township:

In August, Municipal Solutions of Linden, Pa., visited the township and inspected the construction of the roads to determine weight limits. Supervisors started the process as a proactive measure to protect them from damage that might be caused by heavy trucks carrying Marcellus Shale gas drilling equipment through the township.

Once weight limits are posted, it would require the gas exploration company to pay for any damages caused by trucks exceeding the weight limit.*

Seems to MDN this is a common sense precaution that other communities may also want to adopt.

*Wilkes-Barre Times Leader (Apr 7) – Ross Twp. addressing road protection

PA Secretary of Environmental Protection Says Marcellus Wastewater Discharge is Affecting Waterways

The Pennsylvania Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), John Hanger, released a press statement yesterday expressing concerns over Marcellus drilling wastewater being released into PA waterways.

From the DEP website:

HARRISBURG — High levels of total dissolved solids pollution from natural gas drilling and other sources pose a real threat to Pennsylvania’s streams and rivers, including aquatic life, warned Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger today.

“The treating and disposing of gas drilling brine and fracturing wastewater is a significant challenge for the natural gas industry because of its exceptionally high TDS concentrations,” said Hanger. “Marcellus drilling is growing rapidly and our rules must be strengthened now to prevent our waterways from being seriously harmed in the future.”

Hanger pointed to recent examples where TDS impaired streams and affected major sources of drinking water.

In 2008 and 2009, TDS levels exceeded drinking water standards along the Monongahela River, which is a major source of drinking water. Drinking water treatment plants do not have the equipment available to remove TDS, so any water polluted with TDS goes into Pennsylvania’s homes and businesses.

Similarly, in early September 2009, excessive TDS levels led to an environmental disaster that wiped out 26 miles of Dunkard Creek in Greene County, as well as many miles of the creek in West Virginia. These high TDS concentrations, coupled with other factors such as temperature and nutrient concentrations, enabled golden algae to bloom and created an inhospitable environment for aquatic life. The algae released toxins to the water column that literally wiped out aquatic life, including at least 16 species of freshwater mussels and 18 species of fish.

Dunkard Creek is an example of what can happen if TDS is not controlled, said Hanger, and the loss of this important public resource was an environmental and economic tragedy.

TDS is a measure of all elements dissolved in water that can include carbonates, chlorides, sulfates, nitrates, sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium. In addition to natural gas drilling, other sources of TDS include, abandoned mine drainage, agricultural runoff, and discharges from industrial or sewage treatment plants.*

*DEP Press Release (Apr 6) – PA Must Take Action to Protect Water Resources from Drilling Wastewater, Other Sources of TDS Pollution

Watertown, NY Votes to Accept Shale Wastewater in City’s Water Treatment Plant

The City of Watertown, NY has voted to continue accepting wastewater (flowback) from hydraulic fracturing—but it’s not wastewater from the Marcellus Shale. This wastewater comes from a driller in Central New York—Gastem—who is drilling Utica Shale gas wells using hydraulic fracturing. Utica Shale is much deeper than Marcellus Shale and uses much less water to frack the well because it is vertical and not horizontal as it would be with a Marcellus well.

The city’s water treatment plant accepted 35,000 gallons of wastewater from Gastem last summer and discharged the treated water into the Black River. Gastem wants the city to treat an additional 80,000 gallons this summer.*

The volume of wastewater being treated in Watertown is miniscule compared to what is generated from a Marcellus well. But it is interesting that the city council has decided there is no hazard for the citizens of Watertown from treated frack fluids.

*CNYcentral.com (Apr 7) – Watertown to dispose of gas well fracking fluid

Talisman Energy Sells Another $1.9B in Assets, Plans to Invest $1B in Marcellus Shale in 2010

Talisman Energy, one of Canada’s biggest shale gas drillers, is following through on its stated goal of investing $1 billion in the Marcellus Shale play. Today they announced five separate deals to sell off Canadian oil and gas holdings that total $1.9 billion.

The company has said it will use money from asset sales to fund its $5 billion capital program for 2010, which includes $1 billion towards the Marcellus shale play, said [Talisman spokeswoman Phoebe] Buckland.*

With $1 billion in hand, it looks like Talisman will be looking for more property to lease in the Marcellus. Stay tuned.

*The Canadian Press (Apr 7) – Talisman’s latest sale of non-core assets to reap $1.9B, support shale gas plan