Tuesday, January 25, 2022

DCNR Bans Use Of Oil & Gas Wastewater On Its Over 6,500 Miles Of Dirt, Gravel Roads

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has banned the use of oil and gas wastewater for any purpose on its over 6,500 miles of roads in State Forests-- a majority of which are dirt and gravel roads-- and on State Park roads.

DCNR is the largest owner of dirt and gravel roads in the Commonwealth.

DCNR’s latest Guidelines for Administering Oil and Gas Activity on State Forest Lands bans the application of brine or other produced oil and gas well wastewater on State Forest roads (page 46).

The same policy applies to roads within the State Park system, according to a DCNR spokesperson.

“The use of asphalt cutbacks (i.e., petroleum emulsions), chlorides (e.g., magnesium chloride, sodium chloride, calcium chloride), soy oils, paraffin dissolved in mineral oil, and produced fluids from well drilling and completion operations will not be permitted by the Bureau [of Forestry].”

“The benefits of chemical dust suppressants usually do not outweigh potential maintenance and ecological concerns associated with their use,” the Guidelines say.

When dust suppression is unavoidable on dirt and gravel roads, the Guidelines recommend the use of only “untreated fresh water” and specifically notes “potable water can retain chemicals that injure plant and aquatic life.” (page 46)

This is consistent with recommendations from the Penn State Center for Dirt and Gravel Road Studies which also recommends the use of plain water which doesn’t contain contaminants that can cause adverse impacts to the environment.  [Read more here.]

As DCNR notes in its Guidelines, the agency has a close working relationship with the Penn State Center for Dirt and Gravel Road Studies to develop and implement best practices for road construction and maintenance.

The Center for years has said road spreading of oil and gas wastewater is an “environmentally unsound” practice.  Read more here

Health, Environmental Hazards of Road Spreading

Since August of last year, Penn State and others have added to a growing body of research results documenting the potential harms to public health and the environment from road spreading oil and gas drilling wastewater.   [Read more science here.  Read more science here.]

The typical road spreading of oil and gas wastewater on dirt roads involves a vac truck making three or more passes on each section of road using a combination of an open value on the back of the truck and then a blanket pass with a homemade spreader bar that offers no control on the amount of brine spread.

See Photos Here - Read more hereSee Photos Here - Read more here.

84 Municipalities ‘Waste Facilities’

In addition, DEP officially lists 84 townships as “Waste Facilities” where conventional oil and gas wastewater has been disposed of by road spreading.  [Read more here.]

Townships have been advised to do their due diligence on any company offering to spread drilling wastewater on their dirt and gravel roads to make sure they comply with DEP’s Residual Waste regulations.  [Read more here]

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.

Spreading Wastewater Tears Apart Dirt Roads

The Penn State Center for Dirt and Gravel Road Studies has advised townships for years that road spreading oil and gas wastewater can cause water pollution and damage roads.  [Read more here]

The harm caused by the disposal of oil and gas wastewater on dirt and gravel roads has also been documented by a number of experts and by first-hand observations in Pennsylvania.  [Read more here]

Report Illegal Road Spreading

DEP recently determined conventional oil and gas companies and liquid waste haulers are not complying with Residual Waste regulations in road spreading their production wastewater and advised them to stop spreading until they comply.  [Read more here]

If road spreading of conventional oil and gas wastewater is happening on public or private dirt and gravel roads it is being done illegally and should be reported to DEP immediately by calling 1-800-541-2050 or Click Here to submit a complaint.  [Read more here.]

Related Articles:

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

-- 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 

-- DEP: Conventional Oil & Gas Drillers Tried 813 Times To Abandon Wells Without Plugging Them; Failed To Report Waste Generated 836 Times Over 2 Years  

Road Spreading Archive:

-- PA Environment Digest: All Road Spreading Conventional Oil & Gas Wastewater Articles

[Posted: January 25, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

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