Companies make proposals for frack water
By Burton Speakman
As a new company came to the area with a proposal to recycle fracking water, another continues to wait to learn its fate.
Green Mountain Services of Houston; Allegheny Ozone of Somerset, Pa.; and Lake Country FracWater Specialists from Tioga, Pa., are promoting a new two-part process designed to recycle water used throughout the drilling process including fracking.
Meanwhile Patriot Water Treatment, which also sought to treat and reuse water from the fracking process, waits to learn if the state will continue forbidding its process.
Fracking is the process in which water, chemicals and sand are blasted into rocks thousands of feet below the ground to unlock natural gas and oil.
In one part of the new recycling process, the company uses molecules to attack bacteria and other organic materials in the water.
The second phase filters out nonorganic materials including heavy metals.
The two parts of the process can be done in any order, said Frank Miller, founder of Lake Country FracWater Specialists.
In some uses, only one of the two methods is necessary.
The process cleans the fracking water and allows it to be reused four or five times at the drill site.
The filtration system leaves behind little waste, said Sandy Marceaux, owner of Green Mountain Services.
If drilling companies use the recycling process, it would result in about a 20 percent reduction in the amount of water used, he said. Companies have been using the process in Colombia and Mexico, where drilling is occurring in remote areas with limited access to water.
The process can turn 80 percent to 90 percent of the remaining water into something usable and nontoxic, he said.
Water has been recycled that originally contained materials such as oil-based mud, water-based mud, frack fluids, bad cement and gels.
“Companies expect us to exceed environmental standards,” Marceaux said. “We push the technology to the limit every day.”
At the end of the molecular process, the only waste is a small amount of rust that needs to be filtered from the water, said Steve Addleman, vice president of operations for Allegheny Ozone. More waste can come from the filtration process.
The process proposed by these companies differs substantially from what Patriot had proposed.
Patriot planned to treat low-total dissolved solids and not the brine water but would treat and release that water into Warren city’s treatment facility.
Low-total-dissolved solids have a lower salt content. Patriot did not intend to handle the high-salt-content brine.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency issued a ruling in March that prevented Warren from accepting any brine wastewater.
Patriot’s case is pending before the Ohio Environmental Review Appeals Commission, which has heard the case and is preparing a decision.
Andrew Blocksom, president of Patriot, said he has been told the ruling is in the edit stage and he is expecting a response soon.
It’s frustrating that the state has never told Patriot that it violated its permit or did anything that was harmful to the environment, he said.
“It was just a case where a new administration came in and had a different opinion,” Blocksom said.
The EPA is supposed to deal with environmental issues and it never identified any, he said.
“This case is no longer about Patriot; it’s about any company that is thinking about coming to Ohio,” Blocksom said. “If we lose this case, it shows you can’t trust the Ohio government.”
Patriot will appeal if it loses the decision, he said.
The difference between Patriot and this idea of recycling frack water is that in this case, the water would stay within a closed system, it would not be released anywhere, said Heidi Hetzel-Evans, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
No permit would be required to recycle the water for continued drilling use.
The material filtered from the water could be disposed of through a landfill once it had been thoroughly dried, she said.
The disposal of that material to ensure safety is done by the EPA.
A local company will be responsible for operating the process developed by the three out-of-state companies.
LBG Recycling, based in Lisbon, will be responsible for operations within the Utica Shale, said Ken Winters, operations manager for LBG.
The process has other environmental and economic benefits beyond the reduced cost and use of water, Marceaux said.
“It reduces truck traffic and therefore the risk of accidents,” he said. “I can do [recycling] cheaper than you can haul it [frack water] off.”