By Spencer Hunt
The Columbus Dispatch – November 01, 2011 18:11 PM
A decision the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency made late last year under outgoing Gov. Ted Strickland that let the city of Warren dump wastes from shale gas wells into the Mahoning River was illegal and should never have been allowed, according to the Ohio attorney general’s office and the new director of the Ohio EPA.
Attorney General Mike DeWine and current Ohio EPA director Scott Nally filed a request with the Ohio Environmental Review Appeals Commission late Tuesday, asking that it revoke a permit the state gave the city of Warren to dump as much as 100,000 gallons a day of the salty well wastes, called brine, from the city’s water treatment plant.
The request is intended to put an end to an appeal the city filed with the commission asking that the treatment plant be allowed to dump more than the 100,000-gallon daily limit. Warren officials had an agreement with a Lisbon-based company, Patriot Water Treatment, in which the company would have paid the city to take the brine.
The practice of dumping brine into rivers should end soon regardless of the commission’s decision. The Ohio EPA announced in May that Warren’s permit would not be renewed after it expires in January and that it would not allow other cities to pass brine through their treatment plants.
Much of the brine comes from the process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in which millions of gallons of water laced with industrial chemicals are injected deep underground to break apart shale rocks and release trapped oil and gas. A portion of the water that’s injected comes back up the well, contaminated with heavy concentrations of salt, heavy metals and some of the injected chemicals.
(Photo credit: Associated Press)