Drilling Companies Ordered To Stop Sending Water To Treatment Plants

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Last month, KDKA Investigator Andy Sheehan was the first to report about a danger to drinking water linked to natural gas drilling water.

Today, Governor Tom Corbett took action, ordering the drilling companies to stop taking that water to treatment plants.

Right now, treatment plants have been attempting to clean natural gas drilling water, discharging it into our rivers and streams. But under orders from the governor, that will soon change.

“We are calling on all Marcellus drilling operators to cease delivering water to these 15 publicly-owned treatment works and centralized treatment works,” Kathy Gresh, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, said.

The problem being addressed is a salty substance in the drilling water called bromide. When combined with chlorine in a drinking water treatment plant, it can form a dangerous disinfectant byproduct.

Bromides have been a problem in the Mon River, but as KDKA-TV reported, recently they have spiked in the Allegheny. Technicians at the Pittsburgh Water Authority have been concerned about rising levels of these byproducts in their finished drinking water.

“When disinfection byproducts enter our drinking water and we consume them over a long time period, they’ve been associated with a particular form of cancer, bladder cancer, and with a particular set of negative reproductive outcomes in terms of miscarriages and still births,” Carnegie Mellon University Professor Jeanne VanBreisen said.

She was first to discover and document the high level of bromides and has called for changes. Today, she was gratified by the governor’s order.

“I’m very happy too see that there is action being taken in response to our research,“ she said.

The drilling industry said it embraces VanBreisen’s findings and will make the necessary changes.

“And we do believe that there is a role that the natural gas industry is playing in increasing these levels of bromide and are in a position to address that immediately,” Kathryn Klaber, a spokesperson for the Marcellus Shale Coalition, said.

Environmentalists applauded today’s action, but are looking for an all out ban on drilling waste water being discharged in our waterways.

Environmental Group Sues Local Water Treatment Plants
State Orders Testing For Cancer-Causing Compunds In Allegheny River
Bromides Found In Allegheny River

PA Department Of Environmental Protection


One Comment

  1. Manry Elm says:

    which begs the question, where will the drilling companies put/dump the toxic waste water?
    over a hill side?
    this industry needs to have specific regulations, they need to be held accountable, they and our politicians need to be transparent and held accountable in all of this.

  2. Mayor of GBD says:

    they are “recycling” most of the fluids by storing it in ponds and tanks to transport to the next drilling site. The rest is going to HAZMAT dumps.

    WHY did DEP allow it in the first place if the facilities couldn’t treat it properly? Who’s fault it it? The drillers who did what they were told and had permits to do? I think not.

    1. Dave says:

      From how i understand the process, the Chemicals have to be introduced in an ordered manner. The concept of recycling the ‘produce’ water into a new well as is, won’t do the job.

      1. BK says:

        Read up. Municipal treatment plants have nothing to do with the recycling process.

  3. Ben says:


    1) Corbett didn’t take action, the DEP did.

    2) The drilling companies weren’t “ordered” to do anything. The DEP requestred that they stop and companies are apparently complying with that request.

  4. Ben says:

    Also, how can you say Sheehan was the first to report on the potential danger of this water? There have been numerous articles regarding these dangers, not to mention a movie called Gasland!

  5. Responcible Reporting says:

    No Company was Ordered to stop, they were asked! None of the companies is in Pittsburgh! This has been discussed industry wide and Andy Sheehan didn’t report it first, he found out about it in other published reports, pleaaase!

    1. BK says:

      You are right about the “ordered” part and about Sheehan… but the article never said any of the companies are in Pittsburgh. It says that Pittsburgh is affected by the discharge from wastewater treatment plants, which is true. The Mon is one of the primary water sources affected by municipal treatment facilities that accept frack wastewater, and it supplies drinking water to Pittsburgh residents.

  6. Marty Wannabe says:

    PG reports first to report the companies were ASKED to comply

  7. chevelle64 says:

    it is like nuclear waste, no one ever figured out a solution on what to do with that but they just go ahead and store it hoping someone will figure it out and 65 years later no one has come up with it yet, maybe store it by the ocean and someday a trunami will make it leak into the ocean and tell the people dont worry it will be ok.

  8. 2059 says:

    One way to stop the waste water problem is to TAX them out of the Commonwealth. Corbett has NO ba lls, he’s willing to kill education in PA, but not tax the drilling companies. They say they’ll move, BS, if there’s a buck to be made those blood suckers will be here.

    1. BK says:

      Well I agree that they should be taxed, but taxing won’t solve the wastewater problem. As you said, if there’s a buck to be made, they will be here.

      There’s a much simpler and more direct way to solve the wastewater problem. DON’T LET THEM DISCHARGE INTO MUNICIPAL TREATMENT PLANTS. Oklahoma solved the problem this way.

      1. Mayor of GBD says:

        Any tax will be pass on from the driller, to the producer, to the transmission co., to the local distribution company…and on to the consumer. Check the PA PUC website….by LAW, the Gas Cost Rate is adjusted quarterly and includes EVERYTHING the Compnays pays for the gas…including a new tax.

        So if you want your gas bill to go up, feel free to favor a tax….morons!

  9. Suzie Wright says:

    The real solution is to stop coal seam gas mining altogether. At the same time energy demand needs to be reduced by everyone at a personal, local govt, state and federal level. Businesses will only reduce energy waste with a tax on energy production. I believe that it is time that we as a society and as a species paused and reconsidered our way of life.

    Legislate for a moratorium on this destructive way of mining and then ask industry to prove that it is safe for the environment, that it does no irreparable damage to water supplies, water catchments and the water table. There is also the social impact when whole communities lose access to clean potable water. Come on – be prepared to say enough is enough. We know the harm.

    1. BK says:

      It’s not coal seam mining. It’s shale. Same process, different kind of rock.

      1. Mayor of GBD says:

        correct, shale is over a mile deep, coal is between 1000 and 2500 feet.

  10. chevelle64 says:

    It is like nuclear waste, nobody ever found a failsafe solution on what to do with it, and after 65 years they still haven’t

  11. Daquan says:

    So the load mouth producer from KDKA gets fired and the boss lady says she ain’t talken to the PG because KD doesn’t discuss private matters in public? Great remember that the next time Marty is chasing some public works employee around his garbage truck.

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