In the complicated, ongoing story of fracking wastewater treatment in Warren, Ohio, the existing permit that allows the Warren Water Pollution Control Facility (sewage treatment plant) to dispose of treated brine water in the Mahoning River expires today. But because the renewal of the permit is something that has been appealed, according to Ohio EPA rules, the facility can continue to accept brine water from fracking.
The situation is wrapped up with the Patriot Water Treatment facility in Warren. Patriot accepts and treats raw fracking fluid from Marcellus drilling operations, removing heavy metals, bromide and other contaminants. Patriot then sends the brine (salty) water that’s left to the local Warren sewage treatment plant where it’s processed and released into the Mahoning River along with all of the other treated sewage.
Last fall, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine ruled that the permits issued to Warren and to Patriot were not legal because the Patriot facility was not fitted with and using “certified innovative technology” required to treat fracking wastewater (see this MDN story). DeWine asked the Environmental Review Appeals Commission to dismiss appeals by Patriot.
A new permit to disallow Warren to process fracking wastewater has been drafted, but is not yet in place, which means, according to Warren Water Pollution Control Department Director Tom Angelo, the facility will continue to operate as it has.
Angelo explained Monday that when a new permit is not yet in effect, a facility may continue to operate under the terms of the existing permit, and Warren will continue to receive treated brine water from Patriot until the issue is settled.
"We have an existing permit that is still in place," he said.
Warren also has requested an adjudication hearing with a pre-hearing date set for Feb. 14.
"By Ohio EPA’s own rules, they can’t move forward on the issuance of a new permit if there is an adjudication request," Angelo said.*
Patriot has stated they will use all legal means necessary to protect their business:
"Consistent with applicable Ohio law and consistent OEPA practice, Patriot Water Treatment and Warren will continue to operate as usual pending the outcome of the adjudicatory hearing," the company said in a release. "In addition, Patriot is committed to using all legal and regulatory remedies available to protect its legal right to operate."*
*Warren (OH) Tribune Chronicle (Jan 31, 2012) – Warren set to keep brine treatment