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Ohio Utica Shale

Pennsylvania regulators shut down wastewater facility

By Bob Downing Published: August 6, 2013

From the Associated Press:

State regulators have shut down a gas drilling wastewater treatment facility that a Texas firm had planned at the site of a former rodeo arena.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has sought to forfeit the bond posted as part of the project, and to force the companies that planned the treatment plant to close it and clean it up.

Officials with Aquatic Synthesis Unlimited and its partner company, Terra Services, of Irving, Texas, didn’t immediately return calls for comment Monday on regulators’ actions.

The companies announced two years ago they would use special equipment and processes to treat wastewater so it could be reused for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, instead of fresh water. Planners also said the plant in Rayne Township, Indiana County, would eventually treat acid drainage from abandoned coal mines, but that didn’t materialize.

The plant site is about 50 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

“They could never get going,” department spokesman John Poister told the Indiana Gazette. “They were only able to operate sporadically between July and August” last year, before the plant was idled in September.

No water was supposed to be stored or discharged from the site, but Poister said about 1 million gallons of water accumulated and remains at the plant and must be cleaned up.

The company tried to haul some of the water away, so it could be disposed of at injection wells, but the department stopped that because it violated a conditional permit the plant received in April 2012 to treat and recycle the wastewater, Poister said.

Rows of 21,000-gallon storage tanks remain on the site, though Poister said he wasn’t sure how many contained wastewater.

Officials with Aquatic Synthesis Unlimited told state officials this spring that plans for the company’s financial reorganization had failed, which prompted the Department of Environmental Protection to revoke the water treatment permit. The company also forfeited a $1 million bond posted before any of the work began.

The department has hired URS Energy and Construction, a Pittsburgh firm, to clean up the site. That should begin in a few weeks, Poister said.

 

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