Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Fran Alexander says DUH to ADEQ's weak-kneed response to polluters

ADEQ Study: Drilling Fluid Disposal Done Improperly by Many
By Arkansas Business Staff - 4/20/2009 4:21:00 PM

The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality Monday announced that a recent study it conducted determined that fluids used in natural gas drilling have been "improperly applied by landfarms operating in the state, thus endangering the environment."

Drilling fluids are used in the fracturing process that breaks apart shale, allowing trapped natural gas to seep out. The practice is used in the Fayetteville Shale Play in north-central Arkansas.

Of 11 sites studied, all had improperly discharged the fluids, according to a department release. The department has taken actions against the 11 sites and has sought to revoke permits for two sites. The discharges resulted in improper runoff and chloride concentrations in soil that were abnormally high. The department began the study in November, after halting consideration for new landfarm permits.

"With the increase in the number of landfarms and applications for landfarms due to expanded drilling activity in the state, concerns about the resulting environmental impact warranted a closer look at these operations," Marks said.

The study supports new enforcement standards, including that routine soil and water sampling be conducted in front of an ADEQ inspector and fencing be erected around all on-site ponds.

Scientists in the department's environmental preservation and water divisions prepared the report and visited the 11 landfarms between November and January.

During several visits, inspectors discovered chloride concentrations downstream and other contaminants in higher concentration downstream than were present upstream. Four facilities also had chloride levels in fluids above the acceptable limit - 3,000 milligrams per liter.

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