Monday, December 27, 2021

DEP Lists 84 Townships As ‘Waste Facilities’ Where Conventional Oil & Gas Wastewater Has Been Disposed Of By Road Spreading; Municipalities Need To Do Their Due Diligence

The Department of Environmental Protection’s
Current List Of Oil And Gas Waste Facilities identifies 84 municipalities in 13 counties where conventional oil and gas wastewater is disposed of by road spreading.

The list of municipalities is taken from the annual reports submitted by conventional oil and gas operators.  These reports show how liquid and solid waste is disposed of in general terms and where.

Unconventional-- shale gas-- operators are required to file monthly reports showing many more details, even though conventional and unconventional wastewater has very similar contaminants, in particular Total Dissolved Solids, chloride, sodium, magnesium, calcium, arsenic, lead, nickel, radioactive radium [Read more here], bromine, barium, strontium, chromium, cadmium, copper, benzine, iodine, ammonia, Diesel-Range organics and Gasoline-range organics [Read more here] and more that are potentially harmful to public health and the environment when the wastewater is spread on dirt and gravel roads.   [Read more here.]

Shale gas companies are also prohibited from road spreading their wastewater.

Municipalities Listed As ‘Waste Facilities’

DEP’s database describes these 84 municipalities as “Waste Facilities” because of the road spreading--

-- Butler County: Townships - Donegal, Fairview;

-- Cambria County: Townships - Elder, Jackson;

-- Clarion County: Townships - Redbank, Richland;

-- Crawford County: Townships - Athens, Beaver, Bloomfield, Conneaut, Cussewago, East Fallowfield, East Mead, Fairfield, Greenwood, Hayfield, North Shenango, Randolph, Richmond, Rome, Sadsbury, Spring, Summerhill, Summit, Troy, Union, Venango, Vernon, Wayne, Woodcock;  Borough- Conneautville;

-- Elk County: Townships - Highland;

-- Erie County: Townships - Amity, Fairview, Franklin, Greenfield, Le Boeuf, McKean, North East, Union, Venango, Washington, Waterford, Wayne; Borough - Union City;

-- Forest County: Townships - Green, Harmony, Kingsley, Tioesta;

-- Greene County: Townships - Springhill;

-- Jefferson County: Townships - Beaver, Eldred, Perry, Warsaw;

-- Mercer County: Townships - Annin, Deer Creek, Fairview, French Creek, Greene, Jefferson, Lake, New Vernon, Perry, Salem, Wetmore;

-- Potter County: Township - Genesee;

-- Venango County: Townships - Canal, Cornplanter, Cranberry, Irwin, Jackson, Mineral, Oil Creek, Pinegrove, Richland; and

-- Warren County: Townships - Columbus, Eldred, Farmington, Southwest, Spring Creek, Sugar Grove, Triumph

Click Here for the Current List Of Oil & Gas Waste Facilities.

No Permits Required

In a 2018 settlement of an appeal to the Environmental Hearing Board over DEP’s approval process for authorizing the road spreading of conventional oil and gas wastewater, DEP offered in writing “a rather unusual concession,” according to the EHB-- DEP said, “the brine described in Hydro’s 2017 Plan Approval [the subject of the appeal] is a residual waste that the Department cannot authorize to be disposed or beneficially used under the Solid Waste Management Act without a permit….”  The emphasis and the quote are from the EHB.  [Read more here.]

In point of fact, DEP has not required a permit for the road spreading of conventional drilling wastewater as they said they were required to do in the settlement, even though the conventional operators are actually disposing of their waste in the exact same manner as Hydro Transport did.  

There are no environmental standards, guidelines, setbacks, public participation or notice requirements or pre-approvals before road spreading of the wastewater takes place, like a real waste facility permit would require.

As previously reported by PA Environment Digest, conventional operators have attempted to justify the disposal of their wastewater by road spreading without a permit through the Coproduct Determination process in DEP’s Residual Waste Regulations, but failed to meet those requirements, according to DEP.  [Read more here.]

As a result, disposal of conventional oil and gas wastewater by road spreading is now  illegal, until the operators can meet the requirements of 25 Pa Code Section 287.8 in the Residual Waste Regulations.  [Read more here.]

From 2018 to 2020, conventional oil and gas operators reported road spreading 2.3 million gallons of wastewater, illegally according to DEP’s recent decision.

Municipal Due Diligence

Municipalities need to do their due diligence when approached by or contacting conventional oil and gas operators about disposing of their wastewater through road spreading because DEP has said none of the conventional operators or residual waste haulers meet the Coproduct provisions in the Residual Waste Regulations.

These companies were identified by DEP as having reported road spreading to dispose of their wastewater in 2020-- Cameron Energy Company, CRS Energy LLC, DJR Well Services Inc., Elder Oil & Gas Company, Energy Resources of America, Inc., G & G Gas, Inc.; Heiter Robert & Carol, Howard Drilling, Inc., JMG Energy LLC, L & B Energy LLP, LHS Prod LLC, Glenn Weaver & Son LLC, LT Oil Company, LLC, McComb Oil Inc., Pembrooke Oil & Gas, Inc., Pennfield Energy, River Ridge Gravel Company, Stedman Energy, Inc. and Vista OPR Inc..  [Read more here.]

In addition, these companies reported road spreading of conventional wastewater from 2018 to 2020 to DEP-- Bobcat Well & Pipeline LLC, CRS Energy LLC, Diversified Oil & Gas LLC, Elder Oil & Gas Company, Empire Energy E&P LLC, Enervest OPR LLC, GASP Investment LLC, Gloria J & Roger S. Wenzel, Metzler Jeffery A, Millennium Oil & Gas, Inc., Missing Moon Oil, Inc, Savko John A, Victory Oil & Gas Company and WB Prod Mgmt. Company.  [Read more here.]

Municipalities should check with DEP before accepting, approving or asking for the road spreading of conventional drilling wastewater to see if the company providing the wastewater meets the Coproduct provisions of the Residual Waste Regulations.

Only DEP can make the decision if a residual waste hauler or conventional oil and gas operator meets the requirements of the Coproduct provisions of 25 Pa Code Section 287.8 of the Residual Waste Regulations, as they recently demonstrated.  [Read more here.]

In fact, DEP Deputy Secretary for Oil and Gas Management Scott Perry told the conventional oil and gas members of the PA Grade Crude Development Advisory Council at its December 16 meeting they should work with DEP’s Bureau of Waste Management on this issue.

This due diligence will help municipalities avoid the situation where they are helping to promote a potentially illegal activity.

Any municipality interested in conducting a Coproduct Determination itself needs to be aware of all the stringent documentation, testing, risk assessments and evaluations required in 25 Pa Code Section 287.8 of the Residual Waste Regulations.

It’s not as simple as writing a one-page letter as some have tried to do and DEP has already said in its recent reviews of Coproduct Determinations do not meet the regulations.  [Read more here.]

Report Illegal Road Spreading

If road spreading of conventional oil and gas wastewater is happening in any of these 84 municipalities-- or any others-- it is being done illegally if it does not meet the Coproduct Determination requirements and should be reported to DEP immediately by calling 1-800-541-2050 or Click Here to submit a complaint.  

Reporting Errors

As noted in a recent report by the Better Path Coalition, DEP’s Oil & Gas Waste reporting database contains a variety of significant reporting mistakes and they recommend the independent state Auditor General do an audit of the reports to help identify those issues.  [Read more here]

(Written By: David E. Hess, Former DEP Secretary.  Comments should be sent to:


--  The Allegheny Front - Reid Frazier: Despite Moratorium, 2 Million Gallons Of Conventional Oil & Gas Waste Spread On PA Roads Since 2018

Related Articles:

-- Millions Of Gallons Of Conventional Oil & Gas Wastewater Spread Illegally On Dirt Roads, Companies Fail To Comply With DEP Waste Regulations

-- 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

-- Preliminary Results From New Penn State Study Find Increased Cancer, Health Risks From Road Dumping Conventional Drilling Wastewater, Especially For Children

[Posted: December 27, 2021]  PA Environment Digest

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