The Department of Environmental Protection announced Thursday it will soon offer new technical guidance designed to ensure compliance with updated wastewater-treatment regulations and radiation protection plan requirements.
The guidance explains revisions to Title 25 Chapter 95 of the Pennsylvania Code that require new or expanded sources of natural gas wastewater to treat the wastewater to the federal drinking water standard of less than 500 milligrams per liter of total dissolved solids prior to discharge.
“This technical guidance is another step in this administration’s continuing efforts to protect Pennsylvania’s water resources,” DEP Secretary Mike Krancer said. “This document clearly communicates to any facility seeking to increase its discharge of treated wastewater or to any facility seeking to start accepting wastewater that they must meet certain obligations.”
Krancer also said the guidance will ensure consistency in the department’s decision-making process in issuing these permits.
In April 2011, Krancer called on the natural gas industry to stop sending unconventional gas production wastewater to facilities that were permitted prior to revisions to the Chapter 95 regulations, which took effect in August 2010.
The industry quickly complied. To ensure the continued protection of state waterways, the department is now issuing this guidance to explain the regulations governing new and expanded sources of discharged wastewater.
The technical guidance document, to be published in the November 12 Pennsylvania Bulletin, will assist DEP’s permitting staff in implementing the new total dissolved solids effluent standard for discharges of treated natural gas wastewater.
The revised Chapter 95 regulations ensure that drinking water, waterways, and watersheds in the state are not impacted by high levels of total dissolved solids. The most common total dissolved solids in Pennsylvania are chlorides and sulfates.
The guidance also clarifies that all facilities that accept shale gas extraction wastewater that has not been fully pre-treated to meet the discharge requirements must develop and implement a radiation protection plan. Such facilities must also monitor for radium-226, radium-228, uranium and gross alpha radiation in their effluent.
The department will host web-based training sessions in the coming weeks to explain the implementation of the guidance document to treatment plants and their customers.
DEP regulates the treatment and discharge of industrial wastewater in the state as part of its administration of the federal National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES).