All CATEGORIES
☰ Menu
Ohio Utica Shale

Coast Guard seeking public comment on barges, shale wastes

By Bob Downing Published: November 6, 2013

From the Associated Press today:

The U.S. Coast Guard is seeking public comments on a proposal that would allow barges to transport shale gas wastewater, a drilling byproduct that can include chemicals, radioactive material and heavy metals.

Some states, such as Texas, have large numbers of underground wells where the wastewater can be disposed. But Pennsylvania — where a recent boom in shale gas drilling is producing tens of millions of gallons of wastewater every year — has only a few such disposal wells.

The Coast Guard is accepting comments until Nov. 29. The official title of the proposal is Carriage of Conditionally Permitted Shale Gas Extraction Waste Water in Bulk.

Extracting the gas trapped in shale formations requires pumping hundreds of thousands of gallons of water, sand and chemicals into the ground to break apart rock and free the gas. Some of that water, along with large quantities of existing underground water, returns to the surface, and it can contain high levels of salt, heavy metals and low-level radiation.

In the past five years, a lot of Pennsylvania shale wastewater has been taken to Ohio by truck or train, and much of it is now being recycled. But the Coast Guard said barge companies are interested in taking wastewater to disposal sites in Texas and Louisiana, too.

Patrick Creighton, a spokesman for the Marcellus Shale Coalition, said the industry group thinks wastewater transport via barge can be done in a safe way.

“The Coast Guard is going to move forward in a way that’s responsible,” Creighton said.

But Erika Staaf of the group PennEnvironment said barge transport is no improvement on current methods.

“Transporting drilling waste by truck leads to increased air pollution, risks accidents and spills, puts undue pressure on local roads and infrastructure; transporting this waste by barge in our nations rivers is unnecessarily risky,” she wrote in an email.

Staaf faulted the Coast Guard proposal for not specifically mentioning environmental safeguards, since any spill on rivers such as the Ohio or Monongahela would have major cleanup costs.

According to the Port of Pittsburgh, one barge has the capacity of about 70 large tractor-trailer trucks.

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection spokesman John Poister noted that the agency doesn’t regulate what is carried in barges on waterways. Its priority “would be to insure the safety of drinking water supplies and protection of water quality in rivers and streams,” Poister wrote in an email.

Print
Add This

SUBSCRIBE VIA RSS

OHIO.COM VIDEOS

See the most recent drilling report and an injection wells map From NewsOutlet.org

Utica and Marcellus shale web sites

Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management State agency Web site.

ODNR Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management. State drilling permits. List is updated weekly.

ODNR Division of Geological Survey.

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Ohio State University Extension.

Ohio Farm Bureau.

Ohio Oil and Gas Association, a Granville-based group that represents 1,500 Ohio energy-related companies.

Ohio Oil & Gas Energy Education Program.

Energy In Depth, a trade group.

Marcellus and Utica Shale Resource Center by Ohio law firm Bricker & Eckler.

Utica Shale, a compilation of Utica shale activities.

Landman Report Card, a site that looks at companies involved in gas and oil leases.FracFocus, a compilation of chemicals used in fracking individual wells as reported voluntarily by some drillers.

Chesapeake Energy Corp,the Oklahoma-based firm is the No. 1 driller in Ohio.

Rig Count Interactive Map by Baker Hughes, an energy services company.

Shale Sheet Fracking, a Youngstown Vindicator blog.

National Geographic's The Great Shale Rush.

The Ohio Environmental Council, a statewide eco-group based in Columbus.

Buckeye Forest Council.

Earthjustice, a national eco-group.

Stop Fracking Ohio.

People's Oil and Gas Collaborative-Ohio, a grass-roots group in Northeast Ohio.

Concerned Citizens of Medina County, a grass-roots group.

No Frack Ohio, a Columbus-based grass-roots group.

Fracking: Gas Drilling's Environmental Threat by ProPublica, an online journalism site.

Penn State Marcellus Center.

Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.

Allegheny Front, environmental public radio for Western Pennsylvania.