May 17, 2011

Wastewater Treatment Plant in the Northern Tier

Reported by: Brittni Smallwood


Blossburg, P.A. - A new wastewater treatment plant for natural gas driller will open its doors Friday in the Northern Tier.  

Hydrorecovery recycles wastewater from natural gas companies so it can be re-used for hydrofracking in the Marcellus shale.

Their water trucks will hook up to loading stations in Blossburg to unload the waste water.

"Trucks will come to this station they'll hook up a hose, discharge their water into the pipe which will go into those raw water tanks" said David Hedrick, the Project Manager of Hydrorecovery.

The chemical-laced water travels from the raw water tanks to another tank to begin a chemical precipitation process.

That's where chemicals are dropped into the wastewater to remove the harmful compounds.

The chemicals fall to the bottom of the tank creating sludge.

HydroRecovery is able to treat drilling mud, drilling fluid, as well as fracking water.

And once the treatment process is complete it turns into a clear saltwater.

Afterwards the solids that come out turn into a dry filter cake which is sort a like dirt.

The dry filter cake is then taken to a landfill two hours away in near Bloomsberg, Pennsylvania.

"Our dry filter cake is very stable. It doesn't have leech aid and plus the residential waste landfills are all in containment" said Hedrick.

But some environmentalists, like Barbara Arrindell, have concerns about the effects of the natural gas industry on the environment.

Arrindell is a biochemist and the president of Damascus Citizens, a non-profit watchdog group.

She questions who will monitor this process to ensure that the substance is properly disposed of.

"We can do better than this. We should be creating plants and factories to be building renewable energy not to foster another fossil fuel" said Barbara Arrindell, the President of Damascus Citizens.

"It is a good solution to preventing discharges in streams and polluting them" said Dustin Copenhaven, Hydrorecovery Scientist. "We're not discharging anything. It's all recycled nothings going to touch the stream. It's all going back to whoever gave us the water and then they're going to reuse it".

Throughout the entire process, Copenhaven tests the water to monitor barium and calcium levels.

"These are the harsher chemicals that they need to measure because they need to come out they're the primary concerns of the gas companies" said Copenhaven. 

Most neighbors we spoke with welcome the new facility.

"I've been here for 10 years and the most things that bothers me are the big gas trucks and dump trucks" said Lisa Baker, Blossburg.

"I just hope it doesn't smell" said Chester Takarz of Blossburg.

The plant employs six people. Once their at full capacity, Hydrorecovery can take 300 thousand gallons of waste water a day.

To protect your drinking water, the Corbett Administration has asked natural gas companies to stop using riverside treatment plants to get rid of their wastewater.

The deadline to stop this practice on Thursday, May 19th.

Pennsylvania is one of a few states that allows its used fracking fluid to be treated and dumped in rivers and streams.

Other states required it to be injected into deep, underground shafts.

According to industry analysts, 99% of all fracking fluids are sand and water.

The other one percent is chemicals.


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