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Our look at
FRACK PITS AND IMPOUNDMENTS

Pennsylvania’s frack ponds now number more than 500

November 11, 2014 – In 2005, Pennsylvania had 11 frack water pits. Just eight years later, aerial maps show that number has jumped to 529. It’s unclear how many of these sites store fresh water used for fracking, and how many store the toxic wastewater that results from oil and gas drilling operations.

The Department of Environmental Protection could not provide the data to public health researchers working with Geisenger on an NIH funded health impact study. So the researchers turned to the nonprofit data sleuths from SkyTruth, who have documented the impoundments with the help of USDA aerial imagery and citizen scientists from around the world.

Full story

Marcellus Shale gas wells are very thirsty, requiring an average of 4-million gallons of water to hydro-fracture each well. Water fracturing is preferred to other fracturing methods (nitrogen, propane, carbon dioxide foam, etc) since it can create more pressure to crack the shale, sometimes in the neighborhood of 15,000 pounds per square inch.
 

THE SHALE PIT LEGACY

"Many of the chemicals found in drilling and evaporation pits are considered hazardous wastes by the Superfund Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). Upon closure, every pit has the potential to become a superfund site."
Source: Chemicals in Natural Gas Operations


Stalled Pennsylvania Legislation
Introduced June 17, 2013
Pennsylvania HB1542

"Water management - The following shall apply to water management: The use of open water impoundments is prohibited. The department may permit the use of a closed containment system or a closed-loop system.

"Open water impoundment." An open pit, pond, lake, lagoon or trench used for the containment of produced fluids, freshwater, treated water or industrial wastes which are used in or produced during hydraulic fracturing operations.

Once the fracking (hydraulic fracturing) is complete, the brackish flowback liquid that comes back out of the well often amounts to 20% to 40% of the original liquids and frac fluids that were pumped over a mile deep into the shale. The fluids coming back over the first 30 days are called "flowback," and the fluids coming back after that are called "produced water."

Yeager Impoundment
Rust-colored 'recycled' liquids in impoundments
are usually quite malodorous

With the average Marcellus well frac requiring 4-million gallons, that translates into .8 to 1.6 million gallons (using 20% to 40% range) returning to the surface as flowback and produced water. These fluids contain sodium and calcium salts, barium, oil, strontium, iron, numerous heavy metals, soap, radium and other toxic components.
  

Day Impoundment in Amwell Township Washington County Pennsylvania
Jon Day Unit & Impoundment near
Trinity South Elementary School

In order to have capacity to handle millions of gallons of these fluids, earthen impoundments are constructed and lined with black nitrile material, in the hope they won't leak and contaminate ground water and aquifers. Many of the newer impoundments around Marcellus Shale drilling are 300-feet wide x 400-feet long, 15-feet deep, and can hold 15 million gallons of fluids. While many of these impoundments begin as 'freshwater' impoundments, they often shift to holding a wide array of waste fluids that can be multiple colors; rust-colored, black, white, bright green or blue, you name it.

frack impoundment near a house

In February 2012, Pennsylvania passed legislation allowing these pits to be located within 300-feet of homes in residential districts.
  
Here we take a look at photos of gas drilling impoundments near Marcellus Shale gas drilling.
  

 
EXPOSURE
 
Some people living close to Marcellus Shale drilling, gas processing facilities and wastewater pits have had serious health issues from contaminants in their air and/or water. Things like
benzene, toluene and arsenic have turned up in their blood and/or urine samples. In addition, pets and livestock have died from ethyl glycol poisoning.

If you and your children live near Marcellus activities and are exhibiting any of symptoms listed here, you should have the blood and/or urine tests performed that are listed below. (Note: This lab information is specific to a hospital in the Washington, Pa area)

Symptoms may include:
Fatigue, skin rashes, headaches, nose bleeds, sore throat and difficulty breathing. Find more symptoms listed below:


 

 
 

  
IMPOUNDMENT #1
Waynesburg 'stink' pit
  
   
Shortly after one gas drilling company reported
the "exciting new breakthrough" of being able
to use recycled wastewater, this news article
appeared in the Washington Penna.
Observer-Reporter newspaper...
  

Odor near I-79 investigated

10/24/2009
Observer-Reporter
Washington, PA


WAYNESBURG - Some said it smelled like sewage and others said it was like dead fish but officials believe the odor that occasionally permeated the area near the Waynesburg interchange of Interstate 79 this week originated from bacteria in a nearby natural gas drilling retention pond.

Impoundment near I-79 interchange in Waynesburg

Jeff Marshall, director of the county Department of Emergency Management, said his office had received a few calls, starting Monday, regarding the odor. One was from the state Correctional Institution at Greene, which is near the drilling site.

The state Department of Environmental Protection was asked to investigate the matter, Marshall said. The DEP could not be reached Friday for comment. Marshall said, however, his office was informed by the DEP the smell came from bacteria in a retention pond at a drilling site near the interstate.

The DEP said the odor is nontoxic and does not present any environmental problems, Marshall said. Marshall didn't know the name of the drilling company working at the site, but he was told the company is taking care of the problem.

Waynesburg impoundment remains after drilling has been completed

     
  
  

  
IMPOUNDMENT #2
Bednarski Impoundment Dam
  

April 2009
Stone entry road has been constructed and earth moving is under way
  
  
High wall on the back of the future impoundment
  
   
The bottom of the new impoundment being excavated and compacted
  
  
Long gravel access road leading back out. Black pipe carries fluids.
  
  
Looking at impoundment construction from the main road.
  
  
Six months later the impoundment is full and has a portable pump set-up with fluid pipes running to and from the site for fracking wells a few miles away
  
   
  
  
Impoundment during winter 2009-2010
  
  
Impoundment will provide fluids for fracking
this nearby Marcellus well and many others
  
  
Marcellus Wastewater Pit
Brown and white residues indicate this freshwater impoundment is now being used to hold recycled gas drilling wastewater, produced water or flowback
  
  
Relining a Marcellus Shale impoundment dam
August 2010
The Bednarski Impoundment has been drained
so this new liner can be installed
 
June 2011
 
 
Bednarski impoundment
Rust-colored "recycled" frack water
 
 
Impoundment misters
Surface disturbance is visible from 8 submerged 'mixers'
 
 
December 2011
 
 

Pennsylvania DEP Inspection
3-30-2011

Violation ID Date Violation Description
615314 03/30/2011 Failure to properly control or dispose of industrial or residual waste to prevent pollution of the waters of the Commonwealth.
Resolution: Corrected/Abated
PA Code Legal Citation: 25 Pa. Code 78.54 : PA Code Website
Violation Type: Environmental Health & Safety
Related Enforcements

Please note: the following related enforcement data is accumulated from possibly many different sites/facilities that may be unrelated to the facility for this inspection.
Enforcement ID: 272563 Penalty Final Date:  
Enforcement Type: Notice of Violation Penalty Amount Assessed:
Date Executed: 07/15/2011 Total Amount Due:
Taken Against: RANGE RESOURCES APPALACHIA LLC Total Amount Collected:
On Appeal? N Penalty Status:
Enforcement Status: Comply/Closed
# of Violations Addressed by this Enforcement and Penalty Action (possibly from many facilities): 2

 

 

Violation ID Date Violation Description
615315 03/30/2011 Failure to properly store, transport, process or dispose of a residual waste.
Resolution: Corrected/Abated
PA Code Legal Citation: 35 P.S. 6018.301 : PA Code Website
Violation Type: Environmental Health & Safety
Related Enforcements


Please note: the following related enforcement data is accumulated from possibly many different sites/facilities that may be unrelated to the facility for this inspection.
Enforcement ID: 272563 Penalty Final Date:  
Enforcement Type: Notice of Violation Penalty Amount Assessed:
Date Executed: 07/15/2011 Total Amount Due:
Taken Against: RANGE RESOURCES APPALACHIA LLC Total Amount Collected:
On Appeal? N Penalty Status:
Enforcement Status: Comply/Closed
# of Violations Addressed by this Enforcement and Penalty Action (possibly from many facilities): 2

 

Pennsylvania DEP Inspection
3-17-2010

Site ID: 723009
Site Name: BEDNARSKI IMPOUNDMENT DAM
PERMIT 95-7-60915-1
Client List: RANGE RESOURCES APPALACHIA LLC (141142)
Municipality: HOPEWELL TOWNSHIP
County: WASHINGTON COUNTY

Site Permits

Authorization ID: 798407
Authorization Type: Centralized Impoundment Dam
Date received: 5/14/2009
Issued: 6/24/2009

Site-Level and Primary Facility-Level Inspections

Inspection Date: 3/17/2010
Inspection ID: 1873352
Compliance Evaluation: Incident- Response to Accident or Event
Inspection Results: Violation(s) Noted
Violation ID: 584168
Violation Description: There is a potential for polluting substance(s) reaching Waters of the Commonwealth and may require a permit.
  Resolution: Corrected/Abated
  PA Code Legal Citation: P.L. 1987 402
  Violation Type: Environmental Health & Safety
Please note: the following related enforcement data is accumulated from possibly many different sites/facilities that may be unrelated to the facility for this inspection.
Enforcement ID: 261673 Penalty Final Date:  
Enforcement Type: Notice of Violation Penalty Amount Assessed:
Date Executed: 04/07/2010 Total Amount Due:
Taken Against: RANGE RESOURCES APPALACHIA LLC Total Amount Collected:
On Appeal? N Penalty Status:
Enforcement Status: Comply/Closed
# of Violations Addressed by this Enforcement and Penalty Action (possibly from many facilities): 2

Please note: the following related enforcement data is accumulated from possibly many different sites/facilities that may be unrelated to the facility for this inspection.
Enforcement ID: 256598 Penalty Final Date:  
Enforcement Type: Notice of Violation Penalty Amount Assessed:
Date Executed: 04/07/2010 Total Amount Due:
Taken Against: RANGE RESOURCES APPALACHIA LLC Total Amount Collected:
On Appeal? N Penalty Status:
Enforcement Status: Comply/Closed
# of Violations Addressed by this Enforcement and Penalty Action (possibly from many facilities): 1

Please note: the following related enforcement data is accumulated from possibly many different sites/facilities that may be unrelated to the facility for this inspection.
Enforcement ID: 272171 Penalty Final Date: 06/28/2011
Enforcement Type: Consent Assessment of Civil Penalty Penalty Amount Assessed: 49500
Date Executed: 06/28/2011 Total Amount Due: 0
Taken Against: RANGE RESOURCES APPALACHIA LLC Total Amount Collected: 49500
On Appeal? N Penalty Status: Completed
Enforcement Status: Comply/Closed
# of Violations Addressed by this Enforcement and Penalty Action (possibly from many facilities): 10

 

 
 

  
IMPOUNDMENT #3
Best Impoundment (Removed)
  

Residues mark past fluid levels on the black liner of this impoundment
  
  
Neighbors say the odors from this impoundment range from that of kerosene to raw sewage. Headaches and nausea have resulted from breathing the fumes.
  
  
YouTube Video of Impoundment
 
 
 
Flaring too close to the pit (flare shown in the photo below) caused the black liner to catch on fire. The yellow arrow shows where the burned liner had to be replaced. How much fluid escaped?

Photos of impoundment fire New!
  
   

This was the flare that caused the pit liner to catch on fire.
  
  
Impoundments are never supposed to get this full. It seems obvious this one overflowed into the spillway. Where did the fluids go?
  
  
Neighbors rallied to get this stink pit removed
YouTube of meeting
     
  
   Yuk!
  
  
May 19, 2010 - Update
This impoundment was removed due to all the complaints.
Proof of what citizen involvement and pressure
by neighbors can accomplish.
  
  
  

  
IMPOUNDMENT #4
  

Newly constructed impoundment.
  
  
Many of the seams don't appear to be sealed, leading to the likelihood of seeps.
  
  
White deposits on the black liner.
  
  
This new impoundment is only partially full, so water drawn from streams, lakes or other impoundments will be piped or trucked in.
  
 
 
  
IMPOUNDMENT #5
Stewart Impoundment
  
How would you like this impoundment
above your house and water well?
  
  
Stewart Impoundment
  
Stewart Impoundment
June 2011
 
Stewart Impoundment
December 2011
 
 
 
 

  
IMPOUNDMENTS #6 & #7
Avolio Impoundments
  

Dual impoundments at Avolio site
Near the intersection of Rt 844 and Rt 231
between Independence and Avella, Pa
 
 
  Three impoundments by the summer of 2010
 
 
 
 
December 2011
 
 
triple impoundments
December 2011
 
 
 
 
IMPOUNDMENT #8
Goettel Freshwater Impoundment
Goettel Freshwater Impoundment
near
Goettel Unit
 

 

IMPOUNDMENT #9
Carter Impoundment Dam
 
Carter Impoundment
Carter impoundment dam
December 10, 2011

 
Violation ID Date Violation Description
611883 03/21/2011 Failure to properly store, transport, process or dispose of a residual waste.
Resolution:
PA Code Legal Citation: 35 P.S. 6018.301 : PA Code Website
Violation Type: Environmental Health & Safety
Enforcement Type: No Enforcement Data

 

Violation ID Date Violation Description
611882 03/21/2011 Failure to properly control or dispose of industrial or residual waste to prevent pollution of the waters of the Commonwealth.
Resolution:
PA Code Legal Citation: 25 Pa. Code 78.54 : PA Code Website
Violation Type: Environmental Health & Safety
Related Enforcements


Please note: the following related enforcement data is accumulated from possibly many different sites/facilities that may be unrelated to the facility for this inspection.
Enforcement ID: 270908 Penalty Final Date:  
Enforcement Type: Notice of Violation Penalty Amount Assessed:
Date Executed: 05/25/2011 Total Amount Due:
Taken Against: RANGE RESOURCES APPALACHIA LLC Total Amount Collected:
On Appeal? N Penalty Status:
Enforcement Status:
# of Violations Addressed by this Enforcement and Penalty Action (possibly from many facilities): 2

 

 

OTHER IMPOUNDMENTS
 
New Marcellus Shale wastewater impoundment
  New impoundment dam with liner
 
 

Lowry Impoundment

 

Drilling wastewater impoundment and Marcellus well site
New impoundment dam
 
 
  Triple impoundments
 
Pits next to gas well pad
 
Backyard barbecue
 
Three wastewater pits
 
'Painted Black' frac pit
Painted Black
 
Frack pit with no liner
The pit with no liner
 
Mediterranean blue frack pit
Mediterranean-Blue bathtub frack pit
 
New liner in frac pit
New frac fluids pit
 
Orange water frac pit
What would you name this color...
"Frack me Orange?"
 
impoundment near house
Backyard pit
 
 
frac pit
 
 
frack pit next to drilling pad
'Grinch Green' pit
December 2011
 
 
Dual Marcellus impoundment dams
Dual pits near Avella, Pa
 
 
Pulling the pit liner
Removing the pit liner in West Virginia
 
 
Two backyard pools
Two back yard 'pools'
and a well pad
 
 
THE WHITE IMPOUNDMENT
The "Milky White" impoundment
 
 
Frac pits and drilling next to a neighborhood
Neighborhood (bottom right) near the
white impoundment
 
 
Dual wastewater pits with 'ring around the tub' from salt and chemical stains
These dual impoundments have
'ring around the tub'
 
 
Three wastewater pits and one production pit on a drilling pad
Set of triple impoundments in southwestern Pa.
 
 
Shale gas waste pits being buried
Pit "restoration" in progress with liner being pulled out...
how much is being buried in place?
 
 
Centerville Pa frack pits
Foursome of frack pits west of Centerville, Pa
 
 
Republic Pa triple impoundments
Three Marcellus Shale impoundments south of Republic, Pa
near Pennsylvania State Game Lands
 
 
Triple frac pits near Nemacolin
Triple frack pits NE of Nemacolin.
On State Game Lands?
 
 
3 impoundments and 1 production pit
Triple fracking impoundments between Rt 166 and
the Monongahela River in SW Pennsylvania
 
 
Impoundment near Kooser State Park
 Marcellus shale impoundment SE of
Kooser State Park
 
 
Hydraulic fracturing impoundment close to houses
Large impoundment near homes on Garards Fort Road
S.E. of Waynesburg, Pennsylvania
 
 
Impoundment dams for hydraulic fracturing of shale
 Three impoundments between
Marianna and Deemston, Pa.

 

MORE

Centralized Impoundment Dams New!

 
   

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