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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), August 14, 2014 | Go to article overview

LOCAL [Derived Headline]


GREEN GROUP SAYS DRILLERS USED KEROSENE

At least four Marcellus Shale gas drilling companies in Pennsylvania have used kerosene, a diesel fuel equivalent, as a component of their hydraulic fracturing fluid mixture without getting required federal permits, according to a report issued Wednesday by the Environmental Integrity Project.

The federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 exempted most "fracking" chemicals from federal regulation under the so-called "Halliburton Loophole," but still required fracking operations using diesel to get special permits.

The Environmental Integrity Project report, however, found that the companies drilling and fracking in Pennsylvania did not apply for those Safe Drinking Water Act permits and the EPA did not enforce its own regulations.

The 25 Pennsylvania wells are among 351 in 12 states that used small amounts of diesel fuel or its chemical hydrocarbon equivalents as a corrosion inhibitor in fracking fluids from 2010 through this July, according to the report.

None of the 33 drilling companies applied for permits, and the states where they operated did not require them to do so. Most of the states did not know the drilling operations were using diesel products in their fracking fluids, said the report by EIP, a Washington, D.C.-based organization led by former EPA regulators that advocates for enforcement of existing federal and state anti- pollution laws.

The EPA said it conducted a lengthy review process to clarify what diesel-style chemical components are covered by the fracking permit requirement. Drilling companies and industry organizations said diesel use has largely been phased out and criticized the EIP report as "distorted" and "misleading."

In Pennsylvania, the shale gas wells "fracked" using small amounts of kerosene are in Westmoreland, Crawford, Tioga, Lycoming, Potter and Elk counties.

Patrick Creighton, a spokesman for the Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry lobbying group, said none of the Pennsylvania wells cited in the EIP report was in violation of the 2014 EPA guidance and used kerosene, not diesel.

"This report is a purposeful misrepresentation of the facts, as EIP is attempting to retroactively apply EPA's 2014 guidance to wells completed prior to the guidance being issued," Mr. Creighton said.

But Mary Greene, author of the report and a former EPA enforcement office attorney, said the industry is parsing terms when it insists that kerosene isn't diesel and not subject to federal and state permitting requirements. Kerosene and #1 diesel fuel are chemically closely related, and differences in the refined petroleum products are insignificant in terms of potential groundwater contamination, she said.

WEEKEND TRANSIT DETOURS SET

Closures of the Mount Washington Transit Tunnel and track work will cause a series of detours on rail and bus routes this weekend, Port Authority announced today.

The tunnel will close for maintenance from 11 p.m. Friday to 11 a.m. Saturday and again from the start of service Sunday until about 1 p.m. Rail service will detour via the old Allentown line. A free rail shuttle will operate between First Avenue and Station Square.

Buses will detour through Allentown on inbound trips and via the Wabash Tunnel traveling outbound.

The Red Line will have a separate detour from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday during track work. Outbound trips will detour at South Hills Junction to the Blue Line. Shuttle buses will operate from South Hills Junction to Overbrook Junction and Willow Station.

SOUTHBOUND I-79 CLOSED AFTER CRASH

Southbound Interstate 79 remained closed this afternoon as cleanup continued at the site of a truck crash on the bridge that crosses Route 51 in Robinson.

PennDOT spokesman Steve Cowan said once cleanup of the truck and its contents is complete, the bridge will undergo inspection. …

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