PA Drillers Comply with Federal EPA’s Request for Information on Wastewater Disposal

When the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently told Marcellus Shale drillers in the state to stop hauling wastewater from fracking to municipal sewage treatment plants that are not equipped to fully treat the wastewater by May 19 (see MDN story here), they all committed to comply and indeed did comply. But the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) jumped in and demanded detailed plans from six drillers as to just how they planned on treating and disposing of the wastewater once the they stopped using the municipal plants.

The EPA’s deadline for the six drillers to file plans was Wednesday, May 25. Five of the six complied by the deadline:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declined Thursday to reveal what the companies said about their wastewater disposal plans, saying it is just beginning to review the documents.

Meeting the EPA’s Wednesday deadline were Range Resources, Atlas Resources LLC, Talisman Energy USA, Cabot Gas and Oil Corp. and SWEPI LP. Only Chesapeake Energy Corp. missed the deadline. The six account for more than half of the Marcellus gas drilling in the state.

Matt Sheppard, a spokesman for Chesapeake, said company representatives met with the EPA Thursday and agreed to supply the requested information "on a rolling basis" beginning Thursday and continuing over the next two weeks.

"Chesapeake recycles and reuses the vast majority of our produced water in Pennsylvania and has been for quite some time," Mr. Sheppard said. "Material that is not being recycled is disposed of in government-approved underground injection wells."

He said those underground injection wells were located outside Pennsylvania in either Ohio or West Virginia.*

*Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (May 27, 2011) – Drilling firms plan wastewater disposal but details under wraps