Monday, November 15, 2021

Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services, FracTracker Alliance Call On Citizens To Report Dumping Of Oil & Gas Drilling Wastewater On Dirt & Gravel Roads

Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services and the FracTracker Alliance are asking citizens to report the road spreading of oil and gas wastewater in order to protect community health and the environment from chemical contamination.

If you see this being performed in your community, notify Fair Shake Here

It would be helpful for these groups to know which township or borough the spreading was observed in and if a specific company was performing the spreading. 

Your notifications will help obtain further information on this practice to help stop it going forward. [Read more here]

[Note: DEP changed its regulations to ban the road spreading of unconventional shale gas drilling wastewater on roads in 2016, but conventional oil and gas drillers are not included in the ban.]

Background From FracTracker

Though a 2018 legal win against unauthorized brine spreading signaled the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to enact a statewide ban on the practice, brine spreading continues in our communities. 

Brine is wastewater from oil and gas industry activities, and it can contain high levels of sodium, chlorides, and other contaminants—the health impacts of which are still mostly unknown.

Pending the DEP’s evaluation of regulations around brine spreading, Fair Shake and FracTracker urge you to take action and spread awareness about this issue to protect the health of our neighbors and our environment.

In early October this year, Fair Shake was informed that the DEP’s Bureau of Waste Management is currently evaluating whether the approximately 17 companies that are ridding themselves of brine wastewater by spreading it are conforming to the “Coproduct Determination” Program. 

This program falls under Chapter 287.8 of the Residual Waste Management Regulations. 

The DEP’s review is in response to the increasing concern and information that gas fracking and drilling wastewater contains hazardous materials and NORMs [naturally occurring radiation].  

In addition, reports and research exist that brine wastewater spreading is not as effective for dust suppression than other commercial products designed for such use. [2]

According to Chapter 287.8 regulations, a producer wishing to use a waste or “coproduct” in place of another commercial product may make a “coproduct determination,” essentially allowing that producer to self-determine and self-certify that such waste material has the same physical and chemical characteristics as an intentionally manufactured product or raw material. 

The producer must also self-determine if the waste material presents no greater threat of harm to human health and the environment than the use of an intentionally produced product. 

It seems to be an unchecked privilege of producers to make these determinations—to their own benefit—which presents an impressive conflict of interest. 

The DEP does not oversee these determinations, and only receives reports on how wastewater is used or disposed of. [3] 

This is where the hang up is and the DEP is now evaluating whether the self-determinations made by some 17 companies on the safety and chemical characteristics of wastewater brine are appropriate or not. 

If some of the self-determinations are incorrect, the PA DEP has hinted that it may issue notices of violations or other enforcement. 

The question remains, how is the DEP allowing brine wastewater coproduct determinations and uses of it to continue after it issued the moratorium on using it as a road dust suppressant in 2018? 

Fair Shake is looking into what, if any, part of the DEP’s review process of the coproduct determinations that it can take part of or provide comment on.

Click Here for more information.

Related Article This Week:

-- A First-Hand Account Of How Repeated, Unlimited Road Dumping Of Oil & Gas Drilling Wastewater Is Tearing Apart Dirt Roads And Creating Multiple Environmental Hazards - By Siri Lawson, Farmington Township, Warren County

-- Trout Unlimited: What Do Pennsylvania's Dirt And Gravel Roads Have To Do With Trout? 

-- EQB Accepts Petitions For Study To Increase Oil & Gas Well Bonding; Majority Of 100,508 Conventional Wells In PA Are Not Covered By Any Bonding Requirement 

-- DRBC Extends Comment Period On Draft Regulations Covering Discharges Of Wastewater From Fracking Operations & Ban On Road Dumping Of Wastewater & Co-Products

Related Article Last Week:

-- Bay Journal: Dirt Roads & Drilling Wastewater - Dustup Rises Over Health Issues

Related Articles:

-- The Science Says: Spreading Conventional Drilling Wastewater On Dirt & Gravel Roads Can Harm Aquatic Life, Poses Health Risks To Humans - And It Damages The Roads

-- How The Conventional Oil & Gas Drilling Industry Eliminated Any Restrictions On The Disposal Of Millions Of Gallons Of Its Wastewater On PA’s Dirt & Gravel Roads

-- 17 Conventional Oil & Gas Drilling Operators Under Review By DEP To Determine If They Comply With Program Allowing Road Dumping Of Drilling Wastewater

-- Penn State Center For Dirt & Gravel Road Studies: Road Dumping Of Oil & Gas Wastewater To Control Dust Is Environmentally Unsound Practice

-- Conventional Oil & Gas Drilling Advisory Council Critical Of DEP For Working With Penn State On Independent Studies Of Road Dumping Drilling Wastewater They Had Been Aware Of Since August, 2020

-- New Penn State Study Shows Road Dumping Oil & Gas Drilling Wastewater Has Little Dust Suppression Benefit, Contains Pollutants Harmful To Human Health, Agriculture, Aquatic Life

-- DEP: Potential For Environmental Impacts From Spills Or Leaks Of Radioactive Oil & Gas Waste Materials Is Real; Health Dept. Not Aware Of All Chemicals In Oil & Gas Wastewater Making Risk Assessment Difficult

-- 80 Organizations, 1,800+ Concerned Citizens To DEP: Ban Road Dumping Of Drilling Wastewater; Dept. Of Health Unaware Road Dumping Is Occurring

-- 65+ Groups Ask Biden Administration To Reclassify Oil & Gas Drilling Waste As 'Hazardous' To Prevent Road Dumping Of Wastewater And Other Practices

-- Op-Ed: Why Is the General Assembly About To Hurt Us By Authorizing Road Dumping Of Oil & Gas Wastewater?

-- Op-Ed: Will Our Dirt Roads Again Be Used As Dumping Sites For Oil & Gas Well Wastewater

-- Op-Ed: The Story Behind Stopping Conventional Oil & Gas Brine Spreading On Dirt Roads

-- Earthworks’ New Report, Interactive Map Tracks Disposal Of 380 Million Barrels Of PA Oil & Gas Drilling Wastewater, Including Road Dumping

-- House Republicans Pass Bill Legalizing Road Dumping Of Conventional Oil & Gas Well Wastewater, Rolling Back Environmental Protection Standards

[Posted: November 15, 2021] PA Environment Digest

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