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Monday, February 17, 2014

Injection Wells Coming to Pennsylvania

As we reported in a recent post on oil and gas wastewater there are significant challenges to treatment and disposal. In Pennsylvania, the majority of the wastewater is either recycled or treated and discharged through centralized waste treatment facilities. Wastewater can also be disposed of through underground injection wells, which are used extensively Ohio, but few such wells exist in Pennsylvania. However, based on two recent underground injection well permit approvals this trend may be changing.
On January 28th an injection well permit was granted to Seneca Resources and on February 14th a permit was granted to Windfall Oil & Gas Inc. Both permits were approved for disposal of waste fluids associated with conventional and unconventional oil and gas production. The permits were approved by EPA, who is the regulating authority of the Underground Injection Control (UIC) program in Pennsylvania. Some concerns raised during the Windfall Oil & Gas Inc. comment period included the potential for seismic activity associated with faults in the disposal formation, waste fluid migration to drinking water aquifers through abandoned wells and the depth of well casing cement to protect drinking water.

Breaking news

 

A contractor has been charged with falsifying federal documents in which he claimed to have plugged abandoned wells near a recently permitted Seneca Resources injection well. EPA relied on the data regarding the plugging of abandoned oil and gas wells in making their decision to approve the permit. Falsification of these documents is a concern as abandoned wells if not plugged properly can provide a pathway for waste fluids to migrate into other formations and potentially into drinking water aquifers. Highland Township, where the injection well is located, has hired legal representation to appeal the permit.    


Submitted by Eric Chase, P.G.

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