U.S. EPA Tries to Tell PA DEP How to Do It’s Job – PA Pushes Back

Even though extensive testing done by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has proven Marcellus Shale wastewater does not increase levels of radioactivity in its waterways (see here), that doesn’t stop the over-reaching federal Environmental Protection Agency from interfering in PA’s business:

Even as the state announced Monday that water sampling on seven Pennsylvania rivers found no radiation problems related to Marcellus Shale wastewater, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency urged additional testing and said it will take a significantly more active role in reviewing permits and environmental impacts from the discharges.

In a letter to acting state Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Krancer, the EPA said municipal drinking water systems near sewage treatment plants receiving Marcellus Shale wastewater should be required to conduct expedited and more frequent radiation testing, and offered to work with the state to formulate a testing plan.

The EPA letter also said that the pollution permits of all sewage treatment plants accepting gas well wastewater must be amended to include provisions for its treatment. It urged the state to establish monitoring requirements and effluent limits for those facilities that “ensure protection of drinking water and aquatic life,” and asked the DEP to provide a list of sewage treatment plants that accept the wastewater and a schedule for completing the permit modifications.

“I stand ready to provide EPA’s support and to utilize our federal authorities to require drinking water and wastewater monitoring if that becomes necessary,” Shawn Garvin, EPA Region III administrator, wrote in the three-page letter. “In addition, EPA is prepared to exercise its enforcement authorities as appropriate where our investigations reveal violations of federal law.”*

But new DEP Secretary Michael Krancer, to his credit, is not going to be pushed around by the EPA. His response:

“We at DEP know what our responsibilities are,” Mr. Krancer said. “We will focus on protecting public safety and the environment and we will do that with facts and science. We will work with EPA to be sure that it is aware of everything we are doing in Pennsylvania in that regard.”*

*Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Mar 8, 2011) – No dangerous radiation found in Pa. water