Fracking waste could be used as road salt
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection almost let a New Jersey company use fracking wastewater as road salts—and still could.
A New Jersey company called Integrated Water Technologies Inc. planned to use wastewater from hydraulic fracturing on roads and fields across Pennsylvania—water that has been found to contain hundreds of hazardous chemicals including ethanol and methane. The Pennsylvania DEP issued a permit to the company in August and took it back earlier this month after public pressure.
An advocacy group, Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future, had filed a complaint with the Environmental Hearing Board for the DEP's inaccurate public description of the permit, which had outlined the permit's original purpose for fracking wastewater treatment. The salts in the wastewater would have been coupled with some mercury, ammonia, lead and arsenic.
The use of fracking wastewater on roads is an exempt practice under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act passed more than 30 years ago. In 2011, an EPA spokesperson told the New York Times that, "wastewaters associated [with] exploration and production of natural gas are exempt from federal hazardous waster regulatory requirements," and are regulated by the Government-appointed state department instead—that includes byproducts of fracking dumped on roadways.
The permit still has a chance. After it is given a period for public comment, the Department of Environmental Protection can move forward in reissuing it to Integrated Water Technologies.