Patriot Water Treatment Wins Case Against Ohio EPA

Earlier this year MDN reported on the story of the Patriot Water Treatment facility in Warren, Ohio. Patriot accepts and treats raw fracking fluid from Marcellus drilling operations, removing heavy metals, bromide and other contaminants. Last fall, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, a Republican who seems to be rather anti-drilling in his actions, declared that Patriot’s permits were illegal because they were not using the latest technology (see this MDN story).

The Ohio EPA took DeWine’s findings as a cue to go after Patriot to shut them down. They did so by not allowing the City of Warren to accept Patriot’s treated wastewater. With no place to send the treated wastewater, Patriot had to shut the plant down in April. Patriot appealed the EPA decision and on Tuesday, Patriot prevailed. The plant will reopen today.

Employees are back to work at Patriot Water Treatment today, thanks to a ruling Tuesday by the Environmental Review Appeals Commission that says the Ohio EPA was wrong.

Patriot owner Andrew Blocksom spent part of the Independence Day holiday Wednesday calling his employees back to work.

"What a wonderful celebration of what this country is supposed to be about and what a great present for the Fourth to be able to call people and tell them to come back to work," Blocksom said Wednesday.

"Just having the support we got from so many people, it meant the world, because you think you’re crazy, like, ‘This is America; it shouldn’t be like this’ and we’re thrilled that justice prevailed and Ohioans can go back to work."

The Columbus-based Environmental Review Appeals Commission on Tuesday issued a decision that the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s action banning the City of Warren from accepting waters from Patriot was unlawful.

Production at Patriot Water has been idled since April 1, and the company laid off most of its 25 employees on April 14 after the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency issued new permits to Warren’s Water Pollution Control Department that included the ban on accepting brine water treated at Patriot.

The water, which is a byproduct of oil and gas drilling, was Patriot’s sole product and the reason the Warren company opened.

The ruling found essentially that Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Director Scott Nally had no jurisdiction to issue the permit that included the ban against accepting Patriot’s treated brine. That ban was identified as "Section BB."

"Here the commission finds that no valid factual foundation exists to establish the correlation between the restriction imposed by Section BB and the goal of reducing TDS (total dissolved solids) or protecting water quality. Instead, the evidence established that Section BB was included for the primary purpose of ensuring compliance with R.C. 1509.22, a statute outside of Chapter 6111 and over which the director has no jurisdiction."

ERAC’s ruling negates the stipulation, so that term was removed from the permit. That means OEPA must accept Patriot’s right to do business.*

It’s always nice to share some good news for a change. Kudos to Patriot for sticking with it and winning the right to operate their safe and vital business.

*Warren (OH) Tribune Chronicle (Jul 5, 2012) – Patriot calls back workers