Governor Tom Corbett says he will protect Pennsylvania’s waterways, and now he’s trying to live up to his words. Corbett instructed acting DEP Secretary Michael Krancer to shut the door on gas drillers that deliver wastewater to 15 treatment facilities.
Under current provisions of something called Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), drillers have been permitted to transport water mixed with fracking fluids and compounds from gas extraction to treatment facilities, but there enough data exists to suggest that it not in the best interest of people or the environment.
“We now have more definitive scientific data, improved technology and increased voluntary wastewater recycling by industry. We used to have 27 grandfathered facilities; but over the last year, many have voluntarily decided to stop taking the wastewater and we are now down to only 15.” Krancer said.
What has changed is the amount of bromide turning up routinely in rivers in the western half of Pennsylvania where drilling is prevalent. Bromide by itself is non-toxic, but when its mixed with chlorine at treatment facilities it can become a potentially unsafe compound know as Trihalomethanes (THM’s), according to scientific studies THM is a known carcinogen. Exposure to it over long periods, can lead to severe health problems, birth defects and more.
The DEP has given drillers 30 days to comply with the new order. Then what? Well, that is not clear.
Katy Gresh, with the Department of Environmental Protection, told Rock The Capital, “we are still evaluating what disciplinary action to take,” if companies violate the order. “This is a first step we can take quickly.”
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