Tuesday, September 20, 2022

DEP Tells Citizens Advisory Council Road Dumping Conventional Oil & Gas Wastewater Still Does Not Meet Residual Waste Regulations; Remains Illegal

On September 20, Ali Tarquino Morris, Director Of DEP’s Bureau of Waste Management, told the
Citizen Advisory Council conventional oil and gas operator plans to dispose of their wastewater by dumping it on dirt and gravel roads as a dust suppressant continue to fail to meet the state’s Residual Waste Regulations.

In 2021, DEP began to analyze plans from conventional oil and gas operators under 25 Pa Code Chapter 287.8 which outlines what is known as a co-product determination.  Read more here.

A co-product is a waste that could be used in place of a commercial product, if it is no more dangerous to the environment or health than a commercial product.

DEP determined in December 2021 the plans they analyzed failed to demonstrate they met the Residual Waste Regulations. Read more here.

Tuesday, in response to a question by Council member John Walliser, PA Environmental Council, Tarquino Morris, said, “To date, none of those determinations that the department requested to review have been approved. At this point, all of those pending determinations remain unsatisfactory, and that they don't satisfy the requirements in our regulations for making such a determination.”

Walliser also asked if DEP is considering a ban on road spreading conventional oil and gas wastewater, noting unconventional shale gas drillers are already banned from road dumping.

“That's a multi-program issue, and it's definitely still under consideration,” said Tarquino Morris.  “DEP's evaluation of the Penn State study and considering the potential impact to regulatory development or policy decisions are still ongoing.”

In May, Penn State University released a study of road spreading conventional oil and gas wastewater which found the wastewater running off the roadways after road dumping contains concentrations of barium, strontium, lithium, iron, manganese and other pollutants that exceed human-health based criteria and levels of radioactive radium that exceed industrial discharge standards.  Read more here.

On April 13, the Department of Environmental Protection advised 18 municipalities in four counties the road dumping of conventional oil and gas drilling wastewater is illegal and considered waste disposal.  Read more here.

DEP’s letters were advising the municipalities because they were locations where conventional drilling operators reported they disposed of their wastewater by indiscriminately dumping it on dirt and gravel roads.  Read more here.

In August, more complete DEP records now show conventional oil and gas drillers reported spreading 977,671 gallons of untreated drilling wastewater on Pennsylvania's roads in 2021, according to an updated report by the Better Path CoalitionRead more here.

Residents in conventional oil and gas drilling counties continue to report road dumping of conventional wastewater on roads as this is written.

Updating Regulations

DEP is now in the process of updating conventional oil and gas environmental protection and waste disposal and handling standards, after the last comprehensive update was killed by the General Assembly in 2016.  Read more here.

The first of two regulatory packages is expected to come before the Environmental Quality Board for action in the next few months, according to comments by Kurt Klapkowski, Acting DEP Deputy Secretary for Oil and Gas Management, at the July 25 meeting of DEP’s Oil and Gas Technical Advisory Board.

The second package-- dealing primarily with waste disposal, handling and similar  requirements-- may not be ready to go back before oil and gas advisory committees until December 18 when DCED’s PA Grade Crude [Oil] Development Advisory Council meets. 

The last draft of the waste handling regulation update was posted by DEP in September, 2021.

However, that draft did not address many key issues, like continuing to allow the road dumping of conventional oil and gas wastewater on dirt and gravel roads.

Conventional Compliance Review

DEP was required to submit a report to Gov. Wolf’s Office on September 1 detailing the conventional oil and gas drilling industry’s compliance with environmental and regulatory requirements.  Read more here.

The review was requested by the Governor after he allowed Republican legislation to become law in July banning any increase in conventional oil and gas well plugging bonding amounts to deter future well abandonments.  Read more here.

The report is to include DEP’s recommendations for preventing new abandonments and encouraging compliance.

The new federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law well plugging program requires states to take steps to prevent new oil and gas well abandonments.

There is no word yet on whether the report and recommendations will be made public.  Read more here.


-- WESA: Global Leaders Meet In Pittsburgh In Hopes Of Charting A Clean Energy Future

-- Clean Energy Justice Convergence: Citizen Activist Events Related To Global Clean Energy Action Forum In Pittsburgh

Related Articles This Week:

-- Penn State Research Links Groundwater Contamination To Areas Of Unconventional Shale Gas And Conventional Oil And Gas Drilling  [PaEN]

-- House Committee Fails To Address $70 Million In Penalties On Natural Gas Pipelines Or Real Concerns Of People Living Near Gas Production & Distribution Facilities  [PaEN]

-- U.S. Dept. Of Interior Notified DEP A Republican Bill Allowed To Become Law In July May Block Funding For New Federal Conventional Oil & Gas Well Plugging Program  [PaEN]

-- DEP Finalizing First Bid Packages To Plug 249 Conventional Oil & Gas Wells Under New Federal Taxpayer Funded Well Plugging Program  [PaEN]

-- PA Environmental Council: Clean Hydrogen & Carbon Capture Can Be Part Of A Comprehensive Decarbonization Strategy: Responsibly Deployed With Environmental Integrity, Accountability And Equity  [PaEN]

-- Landowners Urge Lawmakers To Pass Real Community Solar Energy Bills To Give $1.8 Billion Boost To PA Economy, Help Farmers As Senate Committee Meets Sept. 20  [PaEN]

Related Articles:

-- Penn State Study: Potential Pollution Caused By Road Dumping Conventional Oil & Gas Wastewater Makes It Unsuitable For A Dust Suppressant, Washes Right Off The Road Into The Ditch  [PaEN]

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

-- Conventional Oil & Gas Drillers Reported Spreading 977,671 Gallons Of Untreated Drilling Wastewater On PA Roads In 2021  [PaEN]

-- DEP Advises 18 Municipalities Where Road Dumping Of Conventional Oil & Gas Drilling Wastewater Is Occurring The Practice Is Illegal And Considered Waste Disposal   [PaEN]

-- 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   [PaEN]

-- On-Site Conventional Oil & Gas Drilling Waste Disposal Plans Making Hundreds Of Drilling Sites Waste Dumps  [PaEN]

-- Conventional Oil & Gas Drillers Dispose Of Drill Cuttings By ‘Dusting’ - Blowing Them On The Ground, And In The Air Around Drill Sites   [PaEN]

-- 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  [PaEN]

-- Environmental Health Project - Part 1: Personal Narrative Of Environmental, Health Impacts From Oil & Gas Drilling On Siri Lawson, Warren County [PaEN]

-- Environmental Health Project - Part II: Personal Narrative Of Environmental, Health Impacts From Oil & Gas Drilling On Siri Lawson, Warren County  [PaEN]

-- Conventional Oil & Natural Gas Drilling: An Industrial Machine Moving Across The PA Countryside Leaving Behind Big Liabilities & Spreading Pollution Everywhere It Goes  [PaEN]

[Posted: September 20, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

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