By Rachel Morgan, shalereporter.com
The risks of hauling fracking wastewater are plenty — from leaking brine tanks to accidental spills to intentional dumps.
An illegal dumping incident in Youngstown, Ohio, shed light on such issues.
And experts are worried.
They expressed their concerns regarding brine transport — and how they mitigate them.
Keeping fracking wastewater from polluting soil and water is a major concern, state Department of Environmental Protection officials say.
DEP spokesman Kevin Sunday said the agency manages the storage, handling and transportation of brine under its residual waste regulations. DEP considers it nonhazardous commercial waste.
“There are regulations in place that make sure the storage vessels have leak detection, storage impoundments have impervious liners and trucks have to meet weight limits and have some spill control equipment on board,” Sunday said.
Are spills a concern, considering fracking wastewater’s chemical and potentially radioactive content? Sunday said DEP implements three strategies to manage such incidents.
He said there are a regulatory framework in place to prevent spills, industry practices that go beyond what regulations require, and a science-based approach to cleaning up spills so that the environment and public are not at risk.
Brine transporters also must ensure there are no leaks in their trucks, and they must have equipment on hand to control spills, he said. They also must be licensed to transport residual waste.
Recently, intentional illegal brine dumps have become a potential concern.
In Youngstown, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency said the company accused of dumping fracking wastewater into a storm drain that empties into the Mahoning River watershed had dumped an estimated 252,000 gallons of fracking wastewater. The company’s chief executive officer, Ben Lupo, who owns both D&L Energy and Hardrock Excavating, told officials he dumped brine at least six times before he was caught by Ohio Department of Natural Resources officials on Jan. 31.
David Sternberg, an EPA press officer, said such unpermitted discharges are illegal, and anyone who witnessed an illegal dumping should report it to the EPA.
Sunday said that in Pennsylvania, operators who spill are entirely responsible for the cleanup, remediation and costs associated with the spill.
“When responding to any spill, release or discharge of any material, we coordinate with state and county emergency response officials to contain, control, mitigate and remediate any impacts to the environment and public health,” Sunday said. “Each emergency situation brings with it its own unique set of circumstances.”
When asked if DEP works with other state agencies to regulate brine hauling, Sunday said the agency works with the state and national Department of Transportation and state police to ensure that all waste haulers are in safe working condition.
To report illegal fracking wastewater dumping, contact the EPA tipline at www.epa.gov/tips/
This story is part of a project on the shale-gas industry recently prepared by the Beaver County Times, a Calkins Media newspaper near Pittsburgh. For more stories, visit www.timesonline.com. Source: http://www.shalereporter.com/industry/article_c9f85e36-fa41-5262-a8f0-d7d0b97803b4.html