Hydraulic fracturing has been used in Pennsylvania since the 1950s. Since the 1980s, nearly all wells drilled in Pennsylvania have been fractured. To date, no instances of groundwater contamination caused by hydraulic fracturing have been recorded.

The Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Act provides that an oil and gas well operator is presumed to be responsible for pollution of a water supply if it occurs within six months of drilling and is within 1,000 feet of the well.

A well operator who wants to prove that pollution of a water supply existed prior to the drilling the must conduct a pre-drilling survey. The testing recommended testing parameters include: Arsenic, Barium, Cadmium, Calcium, Chromium, Lead, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Mercury, Potassium, Selenium, Silver, Sodium, Chloride, Sulfate, BTEX, etc.

The state has not introduced additional requirements for pre-drilling water testing specific to hydraulic fracturing.

As a part of Prevention, Preparedness and Contingency (PPC) plan, operators must list the chemicals or additives utilized and the different wastes generated during hydraulic fracturing. The PPC plan includes Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), cleanup procedures, toxicological data and waste chemical characteristics.

In Pennsylvania, there is no specific requirement for notification prior to hydraulic fracturing. There is no specific requirement for on-going surface and groundwater testing either.

The state of Pennsylvania requires for an operator to develop the waste handling plan associated with the permit. The plan should describe wastewater handing procedure.

All operators employing hydraulic fracturing have a duty to submit Form 26R: Chemical Analysis of Residual Waste, Annual Report by the Generator to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Bureau of Waste Management. The form includes information on the waste hydraulic fracturing fluids. Wastewater analysis required from operators include a range of parameters, including: Acidity, Alkalinity (Total as CaCO3), Specific Conductance, pH, Hardness (Total as CaCO3), Ammonia Nitrogen, Benzene, Toluene, Oil & Grease, Total Dissolved Solids, Total Suspended Solids and several others.

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Replies to This Discussion

Keith-- It would seem Form26R is becoming increasingly irrelevant with the advance of closed loop systems and waste water recycling. What say you? --Tom

My personal opinion, as I wade into an area I probably should not, is that we may not be there yet. I have no idea what percentage of fracks are on the closed loop system or recycled. Any idea on that?

Keith-- don't have any industry stats on exactly how far along we are with closed loop. My guess is that it's growing quite rapidly as one cost efficient way to deal with all the waste water from fracking. In the long run though, muni waste water treatment plants are going to be a less efficient alternative for disposing of flowback, and of course subject to various criticisms over environmental issues--some of these claims are completely exaggerated, yet others potentially real.

My thought is that regulation hasn't yet caught up to advances in disposal technology--hence the question for you about the relevance of the 26R form. It would make an interesting survey to find out what percentage of completions on the books have used, or plan to use, closed loop or recycling of waste water. Perhaps MSC has this kind of data, or can get it. It should be very favorable PR for the industry to be able to demonstrate that it is moving in the direction of closed loop containment systems for fracking waste water. --Tom


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