There is confusion over who regulates fracking waste in Pennsylvania:
Along those lines, Pa. Dept of Environmental Protection plans tighter monitoring of radioactive fracking wastes:
With new evidence pointing to potentially dangerous levels of radiation in fracking wastewater, questions arise over just who regulates this stuff.
The short answer: No one, really.
Does the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or U.S. Department of Transportation step in, because this water is often transported across state lines? Does the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation regulate the tanker trucks being driven around on the state’s roads? What about the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which monitors every radioactive molecule emanating from nuclear power plants?
The answer, it seems, is a resounding no from every regulatory body except perhaps from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
Pennsylvania will step up its monitoring of naturally occurring radiation levels in water, rock cuttings and drilling wastes associated with oil and gas development in a yearlong study that will be peer-reviewed, the state’s environmental agency reports.EQT is claims that, "Marcellus Shale Production Growth To Continue Unabated In 2013"
The study will also assess radiation levels in the pipes, well casings, storage tanks, treatment systems and trucks used by the natural gas industry, which has drilled thousands of wells in the gas-rich Marcellus Shale over the last five years.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, which already reviews radioactivity data in wastes generated by the oil and gas industry, said Thursday that it had so far found only “very low levels of natural radioactivity” in landfills and streams. It will be expanding that work to conduct a comprehensive study of the industry, it said in a statement.
EQT is projecting its company-wide production to grow by another ~30% in 2013 following 33% year-on-year growth in 2012, driven by the Marcellus. After a significant beat on Q4 '12 production volumes, the first quarter 2013 production is expected to be sequentially flat (but still up more than 35% year-on-year). Rapid growth should resume in the second quarter, with double-digit sequential gains.Consol Energy is fighting the DEP over stream cleanup (full article behind paywall):
A unit of Consol Energy Inc. on Monday challenged a review by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection finding that the company failed to comply with a 2008 agreement in which it agreed to clean up five streams contaminated by coal mining.Calkins Media and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting has produced an international investigation of fracking with:
In the appeal filed with the state’s Environmental Hearing Board, Consol Pennsylvania Coal Co. LLC alleged that it has met all its obligations in mitigating the damage to the streams, which are adjacent to its massive Bailey Mine in southwestern Pennsylvania.
Mining fatalities were near all time lows in 2012 and there were none in Pa. :
Calkins Media, publisher of The Intelligencer, has partnered with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting on an international investigative reporting project about the practice of natural gas extraction commonly known as fracking.
Published on Calkins Media’s Shale Reporter website, as well as the Pulitzer Center site, the series focuses on Poland and other parts of Eastern Europe and explores the risks and rewards of gas drilling in that region. In the United States, the project examines gas drilling conflicts in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Featured in this joint project is the work of print journalist Dimiter Kenarov and video journalist Steve Sapienza.
Tom Wilber's take on Pennsylvania's handling of radioactive fracking waste:Mining fatality rates in 2012 reached an all-time low for the second year in a row, federal Mine Safety and Health Administration officials said on Thursday.MSHA chief Joe Main said that 36 miners died in work-related accidents — 19 in coal mines and 17 in metal and nonmetal mines. None of the deaths was in Pennsylvania.......Of the 36 fatalities — one more than the 2009 historic low of 35 — seven died in West Virginia, five in Kentucky, three each in New York and Alabama, two each in Montana and Florida, and one each in Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Virginia.
The Pennsylvania DEP responded to these concerns last week, by announcing a plan to sample and analyze the naturally occurring radioactivity levels in flowback waters, treatment solids and drill cuttings, as well as associated matters such as the transportation, storage and disposal of drilling wastes “at dozens of sites.” Details and timing of the plan were not yet public as they are pending peer review.
Why this and why now? The study was announced after reports that fracking waste trucked to conventional landfills periodically began tripping radiation alarms.
To their credit, DEP officials are trying to stay on top of the issues. The plan would go well beyond a few data points down stream from water treatment disposal sites and include points in the industry’s poorly defined waste delivery system. Yet, the wording from one DEP overview the plan represents a kind of agency-speak that appears to try very hard to tell us a lot without telling us anything.
“Current industry practices are such that data do not indicate the public or workers face any health risk from exposure to radiation ... The data will assist in
determining the need with respect to any issues as they exist during extraction,
transportation, treatment and disposal.”