WHEELING - Reserved Environmental Services of Mount Pleasant, Pa., has applied through the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to recycle natural gas frack water at the city's industrial park on Peninsula Street.
Reserved is planning to build at the Liquid Assets Disposal site at the park. The firm's president, Andrew Kicinski, co-owns LAD with partner Dave Hapchuk.
Kicinski said Liquid Assets Disposal currently does not accept drilling wastewater. "They accept wastewater from grease traps, sewage and other operations, but not drilling water," Kicinski said.
"This new facility would recycle the drilling and fracking water."
Currently, much of the wastewater produced from natural gas drilling sites in the immediate region is either treated and reused by the drilling industry or placed into deep injection wells, such as the one atop Kirkwood Heights in the Bridgeport area. Kicinski said Reserved is hoping to get the opportunity to recycle the frack water so that it could then be reused by the industry.
"We are not even sure we are going to build it because some of the drilling activity has slowed down. We just want to go ahead to get the permits because the process takes a year and a half," he said of the DEP permitting process.
Reserved is seeking permission from the DEP to "operate and maintain a zero discharge wastewater treatment system" at the facility to remove chemicals and materials from the water.
With "zero discharge," the facility would not release the materials removed from the frack water into nearby Wheeling Creek. Some companies have been disposing of similar drilling waste at the Short Creek Landfill on North Fork Road.
The fracking wastewater may contain metals released from the ground - such as barium, strontium and iron - as well as substances injected during the fracking operation. Some of the fracking chemicals include hydrochloric acid, which is used to help crack the shale formation; ethylene glycol, used to prevent scale deposits in the pipe; isopropanol, used to reduce surface tension; glutaraldehyde, used to eliminate bacteria; petroleum distillate, used to minimize friction; guar gum, used to suspend the frack sand; ammonium persulfate; formamide, used to prevent corrosion of the well casing; borate salts, used to maintain fluid viscosity under high temperatures; citric acid; potassium chloride; and sodium or potassium carbonate.
Those wishing to comment on the application by Reserved have until Sept. 19 to submit them to: Director, Division of Water and Waste Management, DEP; ATTN: Lori Derrick, Permitting Section; 601 57th St. SE; Charleston, WV 25304-2345.
While Liquid Assets Disposal is not handling fracking water now, this has not always been the case. The company discharged frack water at the Wheeling Water Pollution Control plant in 2009, causing the city to dramatically exceed the allowable amounts of chloride it could accept. During this time, the DEP said LAD exceeded the 9,000-pound daily chloride limit for Wheeling's plant on about 50 occasions.
This led to bacteria being killed at the plant and also caused several employees to complain about strong and offensive odors causing breathing difficulty and light-headedness.
Initially, the DEP fined the city $414,000 for exceeding the limits. However, negotiations involving the city, DEP and LAD resulted in LAD agreeing to pay the fine at a lower amount of $59,170. Kicinski confirmed that LAD paid the fine for this action.
Wheeling Public Works Director Russell Jebbia and DEP spokesman Thomas Aluise said the city's pollution control plant still accepts wastewater from LAD, but emphasized that none of this water is involved in the drilling or fracking process. It is, instead, the type of wastewater Kicinski mentioned that comes from sewage or other sources.