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Ohio Utica Shale

W. Va. report cites problem with drilling waste pits

By Bob Downing Published: March 18, 2013

From the Charleston Gazette:


CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A legislatively mandated study by West Virginia University has found consistent and potentially significant problems with the way oil and gas companies build drilling waste pits and with how state regulators inspect those impoundments.

WVU engineers reported that field evaluations found insufficient compaction, soil erosion and seepage at sites where gas-drilling companies store wastewater from hydraulic fracturing and gas production activities.

Impoundments inspected as part of the study were found to be built larger than permitted, with different crest-berm widths and steeper upstream and downstream slopes than authorized.

While none of the problems "indicated imminent pit or impoundment failure potential," the WVU report warned, "the problems identified do constitute a real hazard and present risk if allowed to progress.

"Overall, these deficiencies reflect a lack of adherence to the best management practices . . . as well as poor construction knowledge," the 208-page report said. "These construction practices combined with a lack of field quality control and assurances are indicators of the source and frequency of the problems observed across all evaluated sites."

West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection officials, though, said the sites designed and constructed to current state standards scored higher on WVU's inspections than those built before new Marcellus Shale drilling regulations were enacted.

In a summary of the WVU report, the DEP said it "is able to conclude that the current regulatory framework is sufficient to properly regulate the construction, operation, and maintenance of large capacity pits and impoundments."

The report, required as part of West Virginia's new Marcellus drilling law, also found that none of the DEP inspectors had any formal training related to pit and impoundment inspection.




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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.