Thursday, October 20, 2011

EPA Announces Schedule to Develop Natural Gas Exploration Wastewater Standards

The United States Environmental Protection Agency has announced a schedule for establishing national wastewater discharge standards for effluent originating from shale gas extraction. Some shale wastewater is reused, however, a portion must be transported to treatment plants for disposal (direct discharge into waterways, and other waters, of the United States is prohibited). Many of these treatment plants are not equipped to deal with the special effluent, leading to elevated levels of pollutants in surface waters. Therefore, the EPA will be developing standards for shale wastewater, based on "economically achievable technologies," that must be met prior to arrival at treatment facilities. National standards will also be developed for coalbed methane effluent. The EPA plans to seek public comment on a proposed rule for coalbed methane standards by 2013, shale gas standards by 2014.

This announcement comes as part of the Effluent Guidelines Program, section 304(m) of the Clean Water Act, which manages discharges from industrial sources in order to improve water quality.

Read the full EPA Press Release here.

Written/Posted by Tanya J. Cramoy, Research Assistant

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