From the U.S. EPA, Region III, Philadelphia, PA – May 22, 2013
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced a Clean Water Act settlement with Fluid Recovery Services, LLC (FRS), which operates three wastewater treatment plants in western Pennsylvania. The settlement resolves discharge permit violations associated with the treatment of wastewater generated from oil and gas extraction activities.
Under the settlement, FRS must seek renewal of their Clean Water Act discharge permits from Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) and request that PADEP include the more stringent discharge limits in Pennsylvania’s wastewater treatment standards. This includes a new standard of 500 milligrams per liter for total dissolved solids in their renewed permits.
In addition, the company will pay an $83,000 penalty for violations that occurred at facilities located in Franklin, Creekside, and Josephine, Pa.
FRS will invest as much as $30 million to upgrade the facilities to comply with the new more stringent discharge limits. Meeting the more stringent discharge limits will enable the facilities to be eligible to treat wastewater from unconventional oil and gas extraction activities, such as hydrofracking.
The agreement prohibits FRS from discharging wastewater from hydrofracking or other unconventional oil and gas extraction activities until after the facilities have achieved full compliance with the more stringent discharge permit limits.
The facilities, which discharge to the Allegheny River watershed, have not been discharging such wastewater since September 2011 following the issuance of an order to each facility by EPA and a request from PADEP in April of 2011 that asked oil and gas producers not to send their wastewater to treatment facilities that could not meet the more stringent discharge limits.
The former operators of the facilities, Hart Resources Technology, Inc. (Hart) and Penna. Brine Treatment, Inc. (PBT), recently merged to form FRS. As part of the proposed penalty settlements, Hart and PBT neither admitted nor denied responsibility for the violations.
The public has 40 days to comment on the proposed penalty settlements, which can be found here: http://www.epa.gov/reg3wapd/public_notices.htm#hartpabrine