Sunday, January 3, 2010

Protecting the River from Gas Drilling -- PA Action Happening Now

The PA Dept. of Environmental Protection has proposed regulations for natural gas drilling wastewater and other discharges that are high in Total Dissolved Solids (TDS). A discharge standard of 500 mg/L TDS, 250 mg/L for chlorides and 250 mg/L sulfates have been proposed based on a stated goal of protecting drinking water quality. While this is a step in the right direction, the regulations need to be stronger and the standards need to be protective of fish and aquatic life as well as drinking water -- and to accomplish this 500 mc/L of TDS is simply not strict enough. 

Further, the proposed rules do not include any testing or regulation of the many dangerous chemicals that are used in hydrofracking and that are produced as toxic flowback when a shale gas well is developed; this is a gross oversight.

Most importantly, the State continues to crank out drilling permits and issue discharge permits for facilities that do not meet this standard now; they plan to continue to allow gas projects and discharges to proliferate even though the new rules are not expected to be adopted until 2011.  There must be no new gas well drilling permits nor any wastewater discharge permits issued until protective standards and comprehensive regulations are adopted and implemented by PADEP; it is irresponsible for DEP to continue to issue permits for wells that will produce more wastewater than existing facilities can process. A MORATORIUM should be implemented until our streams and rivers are protected from gas drilling wastewater pollution!

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