What happens to drilling wastewater in Pennsylvania? That question is on the tips of many Pennsylvanians. A great deal--70% or more--of it is recycled and reused, with CNX stating that drilling wastewater can be treated partially and recycled for as long as 5 years before ultimate disposal.
But what happens when drilling wastewater cannot be recycled?
First, it is not being dumped untreated for total dissolved solids in Pennsyvlvania's streams. Instead it could go to a treatment plant operated by Eureka in Williamsport that turns everyday drilling wastewater into distilled water so that it can be safely returned to the environment.
Another option is disposal in specially constructed deep underground wells. And a lot of those wells are in Ohio.
According to an informative story in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, the amount of Pennsylvania's drilling wastewater disposed in Ohio's underground disposal wells surged 25% in the first 3 months of 2011. See http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/state/s_745228.html.
Ohio has 174 permitted deep underground disposal wells, with 4 more in development. By comparison Pennsylvania has only 6 active underground disposal wells located in Somerset, Beaver, Erie, and Clearfield counties.
14.8 million gallons of waste was sent to the Ohio disposal wells in the last 6 months of 2010.
And what does it cost? The Tribune Review reports that Ohio facilities have raised the fee from $1 per barrel to $4, with trucking costs adding another $2 to $3 per barrel.