To extract natural gas from deep rock formations in the Marcellus Shale, millions of gallons of water are used. The water is then recovered, now a toxic soup, known as frack fluid. It's transported away for treatment.
In the three pounds of documents uncovered by the New York Times, a troubling pattern emerges. In some instances, wastewater was treated at Pennsylvania plants, where such facilities reportedly had no ability to remove myriad contaminants, including radioactive material.
What's worse, documents concluded an overall lax approach to industry oversight and the disposal of frack fluid.
Calls to area wastewater plants suggested none was treating frack fluid, at least not yet. John Minora has been retained by the Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority to identify steps to equip the Hanover Township plant to handle frack fluid.
As for the New York Times report, he said Pennsylvania tightened regulations within the last several weeks. “They were talking about what was going on a year or two years ago with high disposals through sewage treatment plants, high salt levels in the rivers from that,” he told Eyewitness News.
Minora said the industry is now increasingly recycling and reusing frack fluid, avoiding river discharges that experts told the New York Times could jeopardize drinking water for people downstream.