Monday, February 3, 2014

Injection well OK for Pa fracking water; more coming

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that a natural gas drilling company soon will be disposing of fracking wastewater underground.

Seneca Resources Corp. has received federal approval to operate a new drilling wastewater injection well in Elk County, and more of those deep injection wells for the disposal of Marcellus and Utica shale gas drilling wastewater are on tap for Pennsylvania.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced last week that it had approved Seneca's proposal to convert one of its existing vertical gas wells into an injection well that will pump up to 60,000 gallons a day of drilling wastewater and salty brine about 2,400 feet below the surface into the Elk 3 Sandstone formation.
That formation is about 1,700 feet below groundwater aquifers that supply residential water to residents of the area, said Karen Johnson, chief of the EPA Region III groundwater and enforcement branch.
The EPA has permitted 30,000 Class II injection wells for drilling brine and wastewater disposal nationally -- about a third of those in Texas -- but the Seneca disposal well is just the ninth such well approved in Pennsylvania.
Ms. Johnson said more are in the offing for the state, including three more new disposal wells that could receive federal permits as early as this summer.
"We continue to have frequent meetings with [gas well] operators and a number of additional permits are under review," she said. "Independent companies and big operators are all saying they are going to need more capacity for disposal."
Drillers use about 4 million gallons of water and chemicals per well to hydraulically fracture or "frack" the deep Marcellus Shale gas formation with about a quarter of that eventually flowing back to the surface.
Drillers are no longer allowed to use municipal wastewater treatment facilities for disposal, Ms. Johnson said, and -- while many drillers recycle their water -- there is still a need for additional disposal locations
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