New State Discharge Standards That Affect Marcellus Debated by Gas Industry

By Stouffer, Rick | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, April 17, 2009 | Go to article overview

New State Discharge Standards That Affect Marcellus Debated by Gas Industry


Stouffer, Rick, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


The state Department of Environmental Protection has developed new wastewater discharge standards that natural gas industry representatives say could negatively impact drilling in the state's Marcellus shale formation.

The standards will protect drinking water supplies and aquatic life, according to the DEP.

"We are establishing base standards for this water so dischargers move towards actually treating total dissolved solids in industrial wastewater, rather than simply depending on dilution to protect water quality," acting Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger said at a public meeting of the Marcellus Shale Wastewater Technology Partnership.

"We have expressed our concerns with the proposed standards, that they could have a significant impact on our industry," said Steve Rhoads, president of the Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Association. "We look forward to working with the department in determining cost- effective technologies to handle the total dissolved solids problem."

Drilling wastewater is produced when well drillers use high- pressure liquids to open fractures in rock formations to allow natural gas to flow. The wastewater produced, which can include salts, organic material and other dissolved materials, must be disposed of.

Rhoads said the proposed permitting strategy appears to concentrate on drilling into the state's Marcellus shale formation, development which only has been under way for about five years. …

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