Glenn O. Hawbaker, Inc., long known for providing stone quarries and asphalt plants in Pennsylvania and Ohio, provides civil construction services for shale well sites. The company is also involved in water withdrawal and treatment, logistics of supplies and the creation of specialized aggregate products for the shale industry. Hawbaker recently held an open house to launch the startup of its very first shale wastewater injection well–in Newcomerstown (Tuscarawas County), Ohio. Hawbaker held a Grand Opening Open House for their injection well last week. What’s that? You don’t think injecting wastewater in the ground is a good thing? We’d like a chance to change your mind about that…
Folks in the business know there’s two kinds of “wastewater” coming out of shale (and conventional) wells: (1) flowback, or the water and sand (and little bit of chemicals) that come back out of the hole following hydraulic fracturing; and (2) brine, or “produced water” that comes out of the hole for months and years after flowback quits coming out. It’s called brine because it’s “salty,” with lots of minerals. This is not water from near the surface that’s part of the water cycle, the water we use for drinking. No. This is “water from the depths”–from a mile or more down. It’s there naturally. Did you know there’s a virtual ocean beneath us?
At the National Association of Royalty Owners’ Pennsylvania annual meeting held this past March, MDN editor Jim Willis heard Scott Perry, head of the oil and gas division of the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection, strongly endorse wastewater injection wells as one of the *best ways* to get rid of brine. Perry said that sometimes brine has low levels of radioactivity and even with recycling, it can (over time) potentially harm the environment when releasing it via streams and rivers. Perry prefers pumping brine back down into the ground from whence it came. But won’t the brine find a way to leak back out of the ground again–potentially into groundwater supplies? Perry said the liquids that were previously in deep water injection wells (oil and gas) were locked down there for millions of years and never leaked out. With proper capping, neither will brine.
So yes, using injection wells is good for the environment. Something we should support.
Here’s the location of the new Glenn O. Hawbaker injection well–easy to get to from shale fields in Ohio and Pennsylvania: