New Frack Wastewater Well on the Way in Allegheny County, PA

The Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is the agency in charge of approving oil and gas wastewater injection wells, will hold a hearing next Wednesday in Plum, PA (Allegheny County, near Pittsburgh) on whether or not to approve an application and plan from Penneco Environmental Solutions (division of Penneco Oil Co.) to convert a plugged gas well into a brine (wastewater) injection well. Typically when a hearing like this is held, it’s an indicator that the EPA will approve the project. However, just because the EPA approves it doesn’t mean it’s a done deal. After an EPA approval, the application then goes to the PA State Dept. of Environmental Protection where it goes through another round of reviews–and likely more public hearings. The stuff getting disposed of, which we generically call wastewater, is technically called brine, because of it’s salty/mineral-ly composition. Brine is naturally occurring water from the depths that comes out of oil and gas wells for years after they are drilled. Because of the high concentration of minerals in the water, it either must go through a rigorous recycling process, or get disposed of via an injection well. OH has more than a hundred such wells. WV has a few dozen. PA has less than a dozen, due to the geology needed. Every new injection well in PA is a big deal, including this one…

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