A waste treatment firm based in Warren, Pennsylvania, has agreed to build a new wastewater treatment facility to settle a federal lawsuit brought by environmental organization Clean Water Action.
Filed in October 2013, the lawsuit claimed that Waste Treatment Corporation (WTC) had violated the Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and the state Clean Streams Law by discharging up to 200,000 gallons per day of gas drilling wastewater into the Allegheny River in western Pennsylvania, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) conducted a study last year which found high concentrations of salts, metals and radioactive compounds just downstream of WTC's discharge pipe. These levels were over 100 times the levels recorded upstream of the plant,
Under the settlement, WTC has agreed not discharge wastewater from unconventional drilling, such as from the Marcellus Shale, and will reduce its discharge of conventional drilling wastewater by 35% from permitted levels. Within the next eight months, the company will install advanced treatment technology that is expected to remove over 99% of the contaminants that are currently being discharged.
"From the start our goal has been to protect the Allegheny River and the health of people who use it," commented Myron Arnowitt, Pennsylvania state director for Clean Water Action. "This settlement creates a long-lasting solution that will greatly improve our water quality," he added.