Natural gas drillers in Pennsylvania have until Thursday to stop taking their wastewater to municipal treatment plants. The request by the Department of Environmental Protection is voluntary.
Back in April, the Pennsylvania DEP asked drillers to stop sending wastewater to treatment facilities not equipped for the job. The DEP had come under fire for allowing the release of radioactive water into rivers and streams.
With drillers seeking to find new places to take their water, new industrial facilities are coming on line.
Tom Carroll is a spokesman for Altela–a New Mexico company that has technology to treat wastewater. Altela says it’s about to start treating drilling wastewater at a facility in Williamsport.
“That water is essentially like rainwater, it can be used for anything,” said Carroll. “It can go into the river without causing any human health hazards whatsoever, unlike the water that’s going into the rivers now which shows higher levels of chemicals like benzene.”
Carroll says about ten percent of the water, or sludge that remains needs to be trucked to disposal sites out of state. The wastewater has a high salt content and contains toxic chemicals, some of which are radioactive.