Friday, April 22, 2022

Attorney General’s Office Reported To Be Investigating Conventional Oil & Gas Operators For Illegally Road Dumping Drilling Wastewater

On April 21, a consultant for conventional oil and gas operators on DCED’s
PA Grade Crude [Oil] Development Advisory Council reported the state Office of Attorney General is investigating the illegal disposal of conventional drilling wastewater through road dumping under DEP’s Residual Waste Regulations.

In December, DEP sent letters to conventional oil and gas operators saying they did not meet the “coproduct” requirements of the Residual Waste Regulations.  Read more here.

Meeting DEP’s “coproduct” regulations is the only legal way conventional operators could dispose of their wastewater by road dumping.

As a result of DEP’s determination, over 2.9 million gallons of conventional drilling wastewater dumped on dirt and gravel roads was done illegally from 2018 to 2021.  Read more here.

Typical Road Dumping

The typical road dumping 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.

There are no state standards restricting the amount of wastewater that can be dumped on roads, no setbacks from streams or wetlands to avoid contamination and no requirements for testing the wastewater before it is disposed of in this way.  Read more here.

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

AG Special Agents

“[At] about the same time [DEP determined the coproduct regulations were not met], a special agent from the Attorney General's Office began to visit and interview operators and consultants with known ties to preparation of coproduct determination,” said Burt Waite, an industry consultant and representative of the PA Independent Oil and Gas Association on the Advisory Council.

“I had an agent show up at my doorstep unannounced, knock on my door, wanting to quiz me about the preparation of co-product determination reports,” said Waite.  “It kind of took me back and it took other operators back when a special agent with the Attorney General's Office showed up.”

Click Here for an audio recording of Waite’s comments.

Road Dumping Continues This Year

Eyewitnesses report indiscriminate road dumping of conventional oil and gas wastewater continues in 2022. Read more here.

While road dumping typically occurs on dirt and gravel roads, there were reports again last week of road dumping occurring on State Route 6 in Warren County and other paved roads on a clear day.

Operators who say it is not happening are simply wrong.

Legislator Reaction

Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango), also a member of the Advisory Council and a supporter of the conventional industry reacted to the report, saying “I am deeply troubled that somebody is sicking the Attorney General Office on individuals like Burt for no apparent reason.

“I certainly hope it was not DEP that was releasing names or, pointing fingers in some direction to send Attorney General deputies to go to totally innocent individuals' homes and harass them.” said Sen. Hutchinson.

“I don't know where else they would get information of people that are interested, or involved in these situations, but this sounds like police state stuff to me.

“I wish this hadn't even come up today, because I'm very upset about this,” said Sen. Hutchinson. 

Click Here for an audio recording of the Senator’s comments.

Information Common Knowledge

DEP’s action related to conventional operator compliance with the coproduct provisions of the Residual Waste Regulations is public and common knowledge.

PA Environment Digest and the Better Path Coalition published and distributed several articles on the issue, along with the names of companies submitting coproduct determinations and naming Burt Waite as the consultant preparing several of those submissions.

The public information in these reports was obtained through Right To Know requests to DEP.  Read more here.

Copies of the articles were sent to all Senate and House members.

Office Of Attorney General

The Office of Attorney General was contacted for comments on this report, but there was no response.

Related Articles:

-- Conventional Oil & Gas Operators Continued To Illegally Road Dump Over 580,000 Gallons Of Drilling Wastewater In 2021 

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

-- Better Path Coalition Report: How To Close The Loophole Allowing Uncontrolled Road Spreading Of Conventional Oil & Gas Wastewater & Fix Oil and Gas Waste Reporting System 

[Posted: April 22, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

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