Greetings. My name is Walter L. T. Hang. I am the President of Toxics Targeting, Inc., an environmental database firm in Ithaca, NY. My firm’s state-of-the-art Geographic Information System (GIS) maps the locations of more than 550,000 known and potential toxic sites in New York and allows detailed local, state and federal government data to be retrieved on a site-by-site or areawide basis. We provide services to many of New York’s most respected engineering and environmental consulting firms, government agencies, public drinking water purveyors, attorneys and real estate professionals.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the environmental and public health concerns of natural gas drilling and hydrofracturing wastewater problems in New York. I commend your efforts because I believe this issue warrants New York’s utmost concern.
For decades, New York has failed to identify, investigate and clean up gas drilling wastewater hazards reported at hundreds of sites. Toxics Targeting has compiled detailed data from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) hazardous substances spills database regarding gas drilling wastewater releases that have reportedly impacted homes, waterways, drinking water wells and natural resources.
New York’s existing gas drilling wastewater problems could be vastly exacerbated if Marcellus Shale horizontal hydrofracturing is permitted to proceed without adequate safeguards. That is why I urge you to require that the problems I will document today to be fully resolved before New York’s de facto horizontal hydrofracturing moratorium is lifted by the adoption of a Final Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS).
Gas Drilling Wastewater: Flowback and Produced Water or Brine
Generally speaking, there are two main categories of gas drilling wastewater: flowback and produced water, also known as brine.
After a vertical or horizontal gas well is drilled in various geologic formations in New York, it is typically hydrofractured to facilitate the release of gas. This is accomplished by pumping fracturing fluid into the well under enormous pressure after portions of the well casing have been perforated. Hydrofracturing a single Marcellus Shale well requires approximately five to seven million gallons of fracturing fluid.
Fracturing fluid is mostly water with a variety of chemical additives to reduce the coefficient of friction of the fracturing fluid, to prop open the fractures caused by the procedure and to otherwise increase the release of gas from the rock.
Once the hydrofracturing process is complete, the pressure on the system is relieved. According to the DEC, approximately five percent to 35 percent of the fracturing fluid reportedly flows back out of a horizontally hydrofractured Marcellus Shale well in northern Pennsylvania. This wastewater is called flowback. Rates of flowback vary by geologic formation and other factors.
As gas flows out of a well, it generates “produced water” or brine. This material is typically collected in tanks at the well pad over the lifetime of the well.
Approximately 7,000 gas production wells in New York generate flowback and produced wastewater. A comparable number of oil production wells in the state also generate produced water. There is currently no regulatory system to track those wastewaters from “cradle to grave.” As a result, the volume and fate of those wastewaters is unknown to environmental authorities.
Toxic Constituents of Gas Drilling Wastewater
Both flowback and produced water/brine are documented to be contaminated with three main categories of toxic pollutants:
a) Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) have been reported in gas drilling wastewater generated in Pennsylvania up to 413,000 parts per million. These TDS constituents include sodium, chloride, bromide and a wide spectrum of toxic metals, including lead, barium, mercury and chromium. Many TDS constituents are elements that never break down when released into the environment. As a result, they can cause permanent pollution hazards.
b) petroleum hydrocarbons, notably in the diesel range, have been reported up to 72,600 parts per billion in gas drilling wastewater generated in West Virginia. Benzene, a known human cancer-causing agent was reported in gas drilling wastewater generated in Pennsylvania up to 660 parts per billion. Many of these constituents resist biodegradation and are toxic even at exceedingly low levels of exposure. For example, the Maximum Contaminant Level for benzene in New York State drinking water is five parts per billion.
c) a wide range of Naturally Occuring Radioactive Materials have been documented in gas drilling wastewater, including: radium 226, 228 and 224, thorium 228, radon 222 and lead 210 . Radionuclides can cause severe health effects and can have long half-lives. Radium 226, for example has a half-life of 1,600 years.
While a great deal of attention has been focused on flowback concerns, contaminant concentrations in produced water are often higher for all three contaminant categories.
Both flowback and produced wastewater are highly complex mixtures of hundreds, if not thousands, of inorganic as well as organic compounds. To date, those wastewaters have yet to be fully characterized by analytical studies.
Gas Drilling Wastewater Hazards in New York
Gas drilling wastewater is inadequately regulated in New York by DEC as well as by the
U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). I would like to summarize three types of pollution problems that have been documented.
Gas Drilling Wastewater Spills
Massive gas drilling wastewater releases are documented to have been caused by hundreds and perhaps thousands of spills, accidents and other uncontrolled discharges in New York. Gas drilling wastewater spills up to 100,000 gallons have been reported to DEC in a single incident. Many spills are never cleaned up in strict compliance with remediation requirements. Shockingly, there is no specific regulatory requirement to report gas drilling wastewater releases in New York State. As a result, the full scope of this problem is unknown. In contrast, petroleum releases are required to be reported to a DEC hotline within two hours or fines up to $25,000.00 can be levied per day of non-compliance.
These gas drilling wastewater spills refute DEC’s assertion that its existing regulatory efforts are sufficient. The spills I am presenting for your review all involve serious problems and include spills reported as recently as this summer.
National Fuel Gas, Hallsport Independence Road, Willing, NY; 9707892; 10/03/1997; 15,000 gallons. Brine Tank Overflowed due to apparent equipment failure (valve failure) material is flowing overland into local creek... Water wells may be impacted... Possible that the creek was impacted. Meets clean up standards: NO.
National Fuel. Hallsport Road, Independence, NY; 0375293; 9/10/2003 Caller said that one of their valves broke, causing about 100,000 gal of brine solution to spill. Some of this got into Shanada Creek... The brine flowed to the west from the bldg to an outside drain and down a field to a wooded area near the injection well and then south to the creek... No action possible by spills. Meets clean up standards: NO.
LITTLE WELL - EAST SULLIVANVILLE ROAD HORSEHEADS, NY, 6/23/2011: EQUIPMENT FAILURE – BRINE – 200 gallons. “APPROX 200 GALLONS OF BRINE WATER TO GRAVEL AT WELL SITE. THE SPILL WAS THE RESULT OF A LEAK IN A PORTABLE STORAGE TANK.” Meets Cleanup Standards: NO.
STOSCHEK WELL - 49 BECKHORN HOLLOW ROAD VAN ETTEN, NY, 3/8/2010: EQUIPMENT FAILURE – BRINE – 756 gallons. “VALVE ON THE BRINE TANK FROZE AND BROKE. ALLOWING ABOUT 18 BARRELS OF BRINE TO LEAK OUT.” Meets Cleanup Standards: NO.
POYSA WELL #E1 - 61 BRIGGS HILL ROAD VAN ETTEN, NY, 4/8/2011: EQUIPMENT FAILURE – BRINE – 693 gallons. “Valve on brine tank at closed-in well froze and cracked allowing a release of 16.5 barrels of fairly fresh brine.” Meets Cleanup Standards: NO.
GRUNERT NO. 1 WELL – SOUTH MAIN STREET EXTENSION [?], NY NO ZIP PROVIDED, 6/1/2011: EQUIPMENT FAILURE – CRUDE OIL – 200 gallons. “LEAKING ABOVEGROUND PLASTIC TANK THAT’S INVOLVED WITH GAS WELL.” Meets Cleanup Standards: NO.
Land-Spreading of Gas Drilling Wastewater
DEC has long approved land-spreading of gas drilling wastewater for dust control, winter de-icing and roadbed stabilization.
DEC’s Beneficial Use Determination (BUD) program has approved natural gas wastewater to be spread on roadways at farms, residential and business properties, a summer camp for children, a water treatment plant, County fairgrounds, State lands as well as areas adjoining critical drinking water supply sources, including a major reservoir and “sole-source” and primary aquifers.
DEC has reportedly approved natural gas wastewater spreading in Chemung, Broome, Tompkins, Tioga, Chenango, Steuben, Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, Genesee, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany, Wyoming and Otsego Counties. For example, Chautauqua County reportedly spread a total 1,322,450 gallons of “gas well production brine” in 2010 – 2011.
I have posted documents related to this practice at: http://toxicstargeting.com/sites/default/files/pdfs/foil-hl-110718.pdf
DEC asserts that the BUD program requires gas drilling wastewater spreading to be done “safely.” DEC’s own data refute this assertion.
TUSCARORA BRINE APPLICATION – TOWN OF TUSCARORA DIRT ROADS TUSCARORA, NY, 6/21/2010: DELIBERATE – BRINE. “Caller states Town is using brine from gas wells to control dust on dirt roads and are applying it way too heavy causing runoff to ditches and streams. Also concerned about his well and what might be in the brine.” Meets Cleanup Standards: NO.
Natural gas wastewater spreading should have been banned decades ago when spraying waste oil on dusty roads was outlawed along with burying garbage in open pits. It is inconceivable that DEC still authorizes spreading potentially toxic and radioactive gas wastewater on roadways in watersheds all over the Central, Southwestern and Leatherstockings regions of New York.
See attached Overview Map illustrating where the gas wastewater has been approved for land-spreading. The map is also posted at: http://toxicstargeting.com/sites/default/files/pdfs/Overview_110720_1500...
Gas Drilling Wastewater Discharged to POTWs
Tens of millions of gallons of gas drilling wastewater have been discharged to publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) that are neither designed, constructed nor maintained to be able to break down or remove gas drilling wastewater pollutants. This is an extremely important public policy matter that must be fully resolved prior to permitting horizontal hydrofracturing in New York’s tight shale.
Gas drilling wastewater is fundamentally incompatible with the “secondary” biological treatment systems employed by virtually all municipal treatment systems in New York to break down human sewage. These “activated sludge” and “trickling filter” or “biotower” systems promote the growth of bacteria that degrade human wastewater components.
Many of the constituents of gas drilling wastewater resist biological degradation and “pass through” into receiving bodies of water, concentrate in residual biosolids, or sludge, and can pose hazards to treatment plant workers.
It is entirely appropriate that your hearing is being held today in Canandaigua because the Canandaigua Wastewater Treatment Facility reportedly received 177,000 gallons of gas drilling wastewater generated in Pennsylvania by EOG Resources, Inc. without knowing the source of the wastewater.
The facility reportedly stopped accepting all gas drilling wastewater in September 2009. Prior to that time, it had reportedly accepted gas drilling wastewater for up to nine years.
Canandaguia exemplifies how toxic gas drilling wastewater has been discharged to POTWs in New York's Finger Lakes Region without approved pretreatment programs and in contravention of pretreatment and other regulatory requirements. This illustrates the fundamental inadequacy of New York's enforcement efforts regarding treatment of gas drilling wastewater. Unfortunately, Canandaguia is by no means the only facility in the region that accepted gas drilling wastewater.
The City of Auburn Water Pollution Control Facility reportedly received more than 16 million gallons of "gas well drilling process wastewater" from 7/1/09 to 6/30/10. The facility reportedly accepted gas drilling wastewater from a number of firms, including Fortuna Energy, Inc., Range Resources, Inc., Lenape Resources, Inc., Epsilon Energy USA, Inc., Southwest Energy Company, Strategic Environmental, LLC, Norse Energy Corp. USA and Chesapeake Appalachia, LLC.
The attached documents reveal gas drilling wastewater accepted by the facility was not characterized on a comprehensive basis. Dozens of pollutant parameters were "Not Sampled," including Total Dissolved Solids subject to pretreatment restrictions. See: http://toxicstargeting.com/sites/default/files/pdfs/AubDEC_Jan09letter-N...
On 3/31/11, the City of Auburn reportedly cited six natural gas firms for "Significant Non-Compliance With City of Auburn Sewer Use Law." I am providing for your review a section of the public notice in the Auburn Citizen on that day as an attachment.
Auburn voted to ban further shipments of gas drilling wastewater to its plant in July 2011 after the practice received coverage in The New York Times and citizens launched a campaign to halt the gas drilling wastewater program.
The Cayuga Heights Wastewater Treatment Facility reportedly accepted approximately three million gallons of natural gas drilling wastewater without an approved pretreatment program, a requisite "headworks analysis" or strict enforcement of local pretreatment requirements. That practice was reportedly halted circa 4/09 after I brought the matter to DEC's attention.
This facility discharges into Southern Cayuga Lake upgradient of the drinking water intake for the Bolton Point system that supplies approximately 30,000 local residents. That receiving body of water is listed on the national 303(d) registry of impaired waterbodies and required a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) comprehensive clean up plan by 3/31/06 due to its status as "High Priority Waters." To date, no TMDL has been proposed or adopted.
Inadequate Federal and State Regulatory Oversight
EPA has undertaken extensive investigation of POTWs that are not equipped or regulated to manage gas drilling wastewater. These efforts occurred after more than 850,000 local residents near Pittsburgh could not drink water drawn from the Monongahela River in the autumn of 2008 after gas drilling wastewater discharges caused unacceptably high TDS levels in the river’s ambient water. POTWs reportedly were accepting gas drilling wastewater up to 40% of their influent.
EPA theoretically requires stringent gas drilling wastewater regulatory controls, but those requirements are not enforced in New York. This may be due to a long-standing dispute with DEC regarding shared regulatory authority over wastewaters discharged into POTWs.
DEC manages the State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit program for direct discharges into surface and groundwaters. EPA retains primacy for the pretreatment program involving on-line discharges to POTWs.
EPA is particularly concerned that a) some gas drilling wastewater components are "not significantly removed by most conventional POTW treatment systems."
b) some gas drilling wastewater components "may result in POTW process inhibition in activated sludge, nitrification, and anaerobic digestion processes."
c) "...some of the constituents in oil and gas extraction waste, such as metals, can precipitate during the treatment process and contaminate biosolids which may require expensive decontamination of biosolids drying beds or change the chosen method of use or disposal."
d) "Bromide, which can be present in SGE wastewater in significant concentrations, has the potential to be present in POTW effluent as a disinfection byproduct and may cause an increase in whole effluent toxicity21."
I am providing for your review additional, extraordinarily detailed EPA technical comments in an attachment.
Regrettably, neither EPA nor DEC have taken any meaningful action to address those concerns in New York
There has not been a single horizontal hydrofractured Marcellus Shale gas well drilled in New York. Until a Final SGEIS is adopted, that de facto moratorium will remain in effect. It is absolutely imperative that the concerns I have summarized today are fully resolved prior to the permitting of horizontal hydrofracturing in New York’s tight shales.
After DEC issued its draft SGEIS on 9/30/11, it received withering criticism from government authorities, EPA and concerned citizens. I drafted a coalition letter requesting that Governor Paterson withdraw the draft SGEIS due to its fundamental shortcomings. That letter eventually gained more than 10,000 signatories.
On December 10, 2010, Governor Paterson signed Executive Order No. 41 requiring DEC to: “make such revisions to the Draft SGEIS that are necessary to analyze comprehensively the environmental impacts associated with high-volume hydraulic fracturing combined with horizontal drilling, ensure that such impacts are appropriately avoided or mitigated …”
I reviewed the Revised Draft SGEIS released by DEC in September 2011 and determined that it is a deliberately misleading, factually incorrect, incomplete and inadequate proposal for safeguarding New York’s environment and public health. I drafted a coalition letter to Governor Cuomo which requests that he immediately withdraw the proposal in order to resolve its fundamental shortcomings. Nearly 11,000 elected officials, government authorities, environmental and civic organizations and citizens have signed that coalition letter. Until that requirement is fully achieved, the de facto moratorium on horizontal hydrofracturing in New York’s Marcellus Shale must be continued.
With regard to today’s hearing, the coalition letter specifically requests that Governor Cuomo:
Ban gas drilling wastewaters from being discharged into Publicly Owned Treatment Works designed for sanitary waste and adopt strict pretreatment standards. POTWs are not designed, constructed or maintained to remove or break down the high levels of Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), toxic petroleum constituents and radionuclides documented in gas drilling wastewater. Pennysylvania has banned this practice. EPA has just begun the process of adopting national pretreatment standards for gas drilling wastewaters. DEC inexplicably proposes to allow gas drilling wastewater to continue to be discharged into POTWs with biological treatment systems.
Ban toxic gas drilling wastewater from being recycled as hydrofracturing or drilling fluid. Gas drilling wastewaters, including flowback as well as produced water or brine, are currently exempted from “GA” effluent limitations designed to safeguard drinking water drawn from the ground in New York. The Revised Draft SGEIS fails to eliminate this exemption even though gas drilling wastewater is documented to contain pollutant concentrations would vastly exceed applicable GA effluent limitations. For example, benzene reported in gas drilling wastewater up to 660 parts per billion is only allowed at one part per billion in permitted groundwater discharges.
Ban land-spreading of toxic gas drilling wastewaters. DEC allows gas drilling brine to be land-spread for dust control, roadbed stabilization and melting ice and snow. EPA recommended: "A program must be implemented to properly manage the elevated radionuclide concentrations in the brine to protect the worker health, public health, and the environment." The practice of gas drilling wastewater spreading must be immediately halted.
I would like to note that horizontal hydrofracturing in Marcellus Shale is, in effect, deep well injection due to the fact that up to 95% of the fracturing fluid reportedly remains in the ground. In New York, deep well injection permitting requires individual Environmental Impact Statement review, not the Generic EIS review that DEC is undertaking. In short, the entire premise of the SGEIS permit guideline proceeding is specious. This is yet another reason why DEC’s efforts are inadequate and warrant starting the process all over again.
I urge members of the Environmental Conservation Committee to require DEC to eliminate the GA effluent limitation regulatory exemption described herein. That can be accomplished immediately by regulatory fiat and need not require passage of legislation. I urge the members to take similar action to eliminate New York’s hazardous waste exemption for gas drilling wastes. There is no reason why gas drilling should enjoy regulatory exemptions that are not granted to other heavy industries.
Finally, it is my understanding that consideration is being given to allowing gas drilling wastewater to be accepted by the Niagara Falls Wastewater Treatment Plant. While this plant is equipped with a Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) treatment system, it is by no means a panacea for New York’s gas drilling wastewater problems.
I am providing gas chromatography/mass spectrometry analytical results for the facility’s effluent discharge from a study that I participated in circa 1981. Various toxic pollutants were detected in the plant’s effluent discharge, including benzene, phenol, 2, 4 - dichlorophenol, 2, 4, 6 - trichlorophenol, 1, 2 – dichlorobenzene, 1, 2, 4 -trichlorobenzene, 1, 1, 2, 2, - tetrachloroethane, chloroform, 1, 2, - trans- dichloroethylene, methylene chloride, tetrachloroethylene, trichloroethylene and mercury.
These data document that the facility is unable to remove all of the toxic chemicals reported in gas drilling wastewater. As a result, the facility must not be allowed to accept gas drilling wastewater without a) a comprehensive pretreatment program and b) a Total Maximum Daily Load clean up plan. A TMDL is required because the plant discharges into the lower Niagara River, which is included in the national 303(d) impaired waterbody registry.
Thank you for your consideration. I would be pleased to try to answer any questions that my testimony might have raised.
PUBLIC NOTICE OF SIGNIFICANT NON-COMPLIANCE WITH CITY OF AUBURN SEWER USE LAW P.Y. 2010 The following permitted industries are listed as having been in violation of Title 40 and Section 403.8(f)(v)(A,B&F) of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) during the City of Auburn Industrial Pretreatment Year 2010. This notice is published in accordance with 40 CFR Part 25 and covers the period from October 1, 2009 to December 31, 2010: Pretreatment Year Periods: First Evaluation Period - October 2009 through March 2010 Second Evaluation Period - January 2010 through June 2010 Third Evaluation Period - April 2010 through September 2010 Fourth Evaluation Period - July 2010 through December 2010
Violation 40 CFR 403.8(f)(2)(vii)(A): Type "A" violations are defined by the CFR as "Chronic violations" of wastewater discharge limits..." in which sixty-six percent or more of all of the measurements taken during a six-month period equal or exceed (by any magnitude) the daily maximum limit or the average limit for the same pollutant parameter.
Violation 40 CFR 403.8(f)(2)(vii)(B): Type "B" violations are defined by the CFR as "Technical Review Criteria" (TRC) violations, those in which thirty-three percent of more of all of the measurements for each pollutant parameter taken during a six-month period equal or exceed the product of the daily maximum limit or the average limit multiplied by the applicable TRC (TRC=1.4 for BOD, TSS, fats, oil, and grease, and 1.2 for all other pollutants except pH).
Violation 40 CFR 403.8(f)(2)(vii)(F): Type "F" violations are defined by the CFR as "Failure to provide, within 30 days after the due date, required reports such as baseline monitoring reports, 90-day compliance reports, periodic self-monitoring reports, and reports on compliance with compliance schedules;"
3. Industry Name: Anschutz Exploration (emphasis added) Address: 555 Seventeenth Street Suite 2400 Denver, Colorado Type "F" Violations: 90-Day self-monitoring reports were not submitted for the second, third or fourth quarters of 2010. Actions Taken: Anschutz Exploration was notified of reporting requirements on January 26, 2011 that the City of Auburn would no longer accept water without quarterly reports. Waste water was sampled in February 2011 by the City in accordance with EPA-approved pretreatment program protocol. Compliance Anschutz is scheduled to submit samples in the second quarter 2011 in accordance with their discharge permit requirements. Anschutz submitted first quarter sample results in lieu of the fourth quarter 2010 results, and required certification verifying that no water from horizontal Marcellus Shale formation was discharged to the Auburn Wastewater Facility in 2010. Penalties: No penalties were assessed.
4. Industry Name: Chesapeak Energy (emphasis added) Address: Chesapeak Appalachia, LLC Eastern Division 6100 N. Western Avenue Oklahoma City, Ok. 73118 Type "F" Violations: 90-Day self-monitoring report was not submitted for the fourth quarter of 2010. Actions Taken: Chesapeak Energy was notified of reporting requirements on January 26, 2011 that the City of Auburn would no longer accept water without quarterly reports. Compliance Chesapeak is scheduled to submit samples in the second quarter 2011 in accordance with their discharge permit requirements. Chesapeak submitted required certification verifying that no water from horizontal Marcellus Shale formation was discharged to the Auburn Wastewater Facility in 2010. Chesapeak has elected not to make deliveries until further notice. Penalties: No penalties were assessed.
5. Industry Name: Empire Energy (emphasis added) Address: PO Box 100 Mayville, N.Y. 14757 Type "F" Violations: 90-Day self-monitoring reports were not submitted for the second, third or fourth quarters of 2010. Actions Taken: Empire Energy was notified of reporting requirements on January 26, 2011 that the City of Auburn would no longer accept water without quarterly reports. Waste water was sampled by the City in February 2011 in accordance with EPA-approved pretreatment program protocol. Compliance Empire is scheduled to submit samples in the second quarter 2011 in accordance with their discharge permit requirements. Empire submitted required certification verifying that no water from horizontal Marcellus Shale formation was discharged to the Auburn Wastewater Facility in 2010. Penalties: No penalties were assessed.
6. Industry Name: Epsilon Energy USA, Inc. (emphasis added) Address: 3343 PA State Route 3004 Meshoppen, Pa. 18630 Type F Violations: 90-Day self-monitoring report was not submitted for the second quarter of 2010. Epsilon only discharged waste water on June 14 and 15, 2010. Actions Taken: Epsilon was notified of reporting requirements on January 26, 2011 that the City of Auburn would no longer accept water without quarterly reports. Compliance Epsilon submitted required certification verifying that no water from horizontal Marcellus Shale formation was discharged to the Auburn Wastewater Facility in 2010. No additional deliveries were made in 2010 and none are planned for 2011. Penalties: No penalties were assessed.
7. Industry Name: Norse Energy(emphasis added) Address: 3556 Lakeshore Road Suite 700 Buffalo, N.Y. 14219 Type F Violations: Norse delivered waste water to the City treatment plant only in the fourth quarter of 2010.The 90-Day self-monitoring report was not submitted for the fourth quarters of 2010. Actions Taken: Norse was notified of reporting requirements on January 26, 2011 that the City of Auburn would no longer accept water without quarterly reports. Waste water sampling is planned in the first quarter 2011 by the City in accordance with EPA-approved pretreatment program protocol. Compliance Norse is scheduled to submit samples in the second quarter 2011 in accordance with their discharge permit requirements. Norse submitted required certification verifying that no water from horizontal Marcellus Shale formation was discharged to the Auburn Wastewater Facility in 2010. Penalties: No penalties were assessed.
8. Industry Name: Talisman Energy (emphasis added) Address: 337 Daniel Zenker Drive Horseheads, N.Y. 14845 Type F Violations: Talisman delivered waste water to the City treatment plant in all four quarters of 2010. 90-Day self-monitoring reports were not submitted for the second, third or fourth quarters of 2010. Actions Taken: Talisman was notified of reporting requirements on January 26, 2011 that the City of Auburn would no longer accept water without quarterly reports. Waste water was sampled by the City in in February 2011 in accordance with EPA-approved pretreatment program protocol. Compliance Talisman is scheduled to submit samples in the second quarter 2011 in accordance with their discharge permit requirements. Talisman submitted required certification verifying that no water from horizontal Marcellus Shale formation was discharged to the Auburn Wastewater Facility in 2010.
Penalties: No penalties were assessed. ___________________ Vicky L. Murphy Director of Municipal Utilities Mar 31, 2011
EPA Document Excerpts
"For SGE [shale gas extraction] wastewater, that discharge characterization should include the concentrations of total· dissolved solids, specific ions, such as chlorides and sulfate, specific radionuclides, metals,and other pollutants that could reasonably be expected to be present in wastewater from a well. In addition to the ions, radionuclides, and metals that can be expected to be present in wastewater produced from a well, the characterization should include all chemicals used in well drilling, completions, treatment, workover, or production, that could reasonably be expected to be present in wastewater [emphasis added]. Pursuant to the permit, this information must generally be reported to EPA and/or the State program before the POTW may accept the HFFW. "Adequate notice" is meant to provide the EPA (or the state NPDES permitting authority) with enough time to determine if the POTW NPDES permit needs to be modified in order to address potential effects due to the potential new indirect discharger.
Constituents in SGE wastewater such as total dissolved solids (TDS) have been found to be present at concentrations ranging from 280 mg/l to 345,000 mg/1. 19 Chloride has been reported in concentrations up to 196,000 mg/1.20 TDS is not significantly removed by most conventional POTW treatment systems; therefore, pretreatment of the wastewater would be required prior to discharge to the POTW. However, very little comprehensive data have been collected nationwide on TDS treatment capability at POTWs. Common constituents of TDS include calcium and magnesium (also a measure of"hardness"), phosphates, nitrates, sodium, potassium, sulfates, cWoride, and even barium, cadmium, and copper. A literature data search revealed that some of these individual constituents of TDS may result in POTW process inhibition in activated sludge, nitrification, and anaerobic digestion processes. POTWs may exhibit these process inhibitions from these individual constituents at concentrations that are several magnitudes lower than the composite TDS found in: SGE wastewater (example: sulfate at 400-1000 mg/l disrupting anaerobic digestion processes; chloride at 180 mg/l disrupting nitrification processes21 ). High concentrations of chlorides, such as in Marcellus SGE wastewater, can disrupt biological treatment units [emphasis added]. Some POTWs that had previously accepted oil and gas extraction waste through their pretreatment programs experienced operational problems due to high concentrations and spikes in concentrations ofTDS.22 In addition, some of the constituents in oil and gas extraction waste, such as metals, can precipitate during thetreatment process and contaminate biosolids which may require expensive decontamination of biosolids drying beds or change the chosen method of use or disposal [emphasis added]. Bromide, which can be present in SGE wastewater in significant concentrations, has the potential to be present in POTW effluent as a disinfection byproduct and may cause an increase in whole effluent toxicity21.
Because there is a significant possibility that SGE wastewater may "pass through" the POTW, causing the POTW to violate its permit, cause "interference" with the POTW's operation, or contamination of biosolids, acceptance of the waste is not advisable unless it's effects on the treatment system are well understood and the wastewater is not reasonably expected to cause pass through or interference. POTWs cannot accept Marcellus wastewater if acceptance of the wastewater would result in violations of the POTW's permit, the POTW's requirement under 40 CFR 403.5(c) to develop and enforce local limits to implement the general and specific prohibitions of403.5(a)(l) and (b), or contamination that interferes or disrupts biosolids processes, uses, or disposal. NPDES permits for discharges from POTWs to water of the U.S. also must meet applicable water quality-based requirements that are discussed in more detail in question number 21.
Radionuclides in Marcellus SGE wastewater also pose a challenge for POTWs. Radionuclides are discussed below in the response to question number 19."
The Ravaged River (1981). New York Public Interest Research Group.