Fines Issued to Pennsylvania Landfill Involving Drilling/Fracking Wastes

by Duane Nichols on October 24, 2020

Westmoreland County Landfill taking Drilling/Fracking wastes

New $59,000 fine issued for multiple violations, including leaks and spills

From an Article by Reid Frazier, StateImpact Pennsylvania, October 14, 2020

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection fined a Western Pennsylvania landfill that accepts solid fracking waste $59,000 for multiple violations over the past year. It’s the latest in a series of legal actions against the landfill.

According to a consent order signed Oct. 7, the Westmoreland Sanitary Landfill in Rostraver failed to maintain up-to-date records, operated beyond permitted hours, and failed to maintain roads on multiple occasions between July 31, 2019, and Sept. 24, 2020.

The agency said the landfill also allowed spills and leaks of leachate — wastewater that seeps through the landfill and must be treated before it’s disposed of.

The landfill accepts oil and gas drilling waste, which is high in salts, metals, and radioactive materials, and many of these pollutants have ended up in the leachate.

Last year, Pennsylvania’s Attorney General’s office said it was investigating the landfill’s handling of its waste, and a judge ordered the landfill to stop sending its leachate to a nearby treatment plant.

That plant, which failed several state water quality tests, found high levels of contaminants common in fracking waste in the leachate it was receiving from the landfill.

In February, the DEP fined the landfill $24,000 for improper disposal of the leachate.

The latest fine is for new violations, which include the landfill’s trucks tracking mud on nearby roads, failing to put adequate soil cover on top of waste, including drilling waste, and failing to maintain equipment.

The department has ordered the landfill to come up with a plan to fix the violations.

West Virginia news of May 30, 2014

About StateImpact Pennsylvania

StateImpact Pennsylvania is a collaboration among WITF, WHYY, WPSU, and The Allegheny Front. Reporters Anne Danahy, Reid Frazier, Rachel McDevitt and Susan Phillips cover the commonwealth’s energy economy.

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See also: Pennsylvania Regulators Won’t Say Where 66% of Landfill Leachate w/ Radioactive Material From Fracking is Going…”It’s Private” — From Joshua Pribanic and Talia Wiener for the Public Herald, August 5, 2020

In Pennsylvania, the final destination of 66 percent of liquid waste from 30 municipal landfills accepting fracking’s oil and gas waste remains unknown. Oil and gas waste from fracking contains high concentrations of Technically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (TENORM), and wherever this radioactive TENORM waste is stored, rain carries water-soluble radionuclides such as Radium-226 through the landfill to create what’s known as leachate – the landfill’s liquid waste. This TENORM-laden leachate is commonly sent to Waste Water Treatment Plants (WWTPs) that are not equipped to remove it before it’s dumped into rivers.

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