Wastewater treatment company receives cool response in Dimock

Representatives from a fracking wastewater treatment company received a cool response to plans for a proposed facility at the former Cavanaugh Well Drilling site on Route 29 in Dimock.

Audience members peppered Daniel J. Ertel, the CEO of Eureka Resources of Williamsport, with questions before he could get through an informational presentation for the proposed plant which would discharge treated wastewater from fracking into the nearby Burdick Creek.

Township supervisors have no direct control over Eureka’s planned project.  The project relies solely on DEP approval, which is in the process of being applied for.  Monday’s presentation was informational in nature but was used by audience members as a sounding board for a variety of concerns.

According to an informational packet distributed by Eureka Monday night, the Dimock facility will mirror the company’s Standing Stone facility in Bradford County.  According to the brochure, the Dimock facility, if approved, will produce 94,000 barrels of treated water a day, 30 to 40 tons of sodium chloride to be trucked to the Standing Stone site a day and 23,000 gallons of concentrated calcium chloride brine per day.   The treated water would then be resold for “purposes both inside and outside the oil and gas industry including industrial applications, agriculture, habitat restoration and surface water body supplementation.

None of Eureka’s water is deposited in injection wells, officials said.

Eureka had already made a $30 million investment in Dimock plant as well an additional $30 million invested in Bradford County plant.  Eureka hopes to create two management positions paying between $90,000 and $150,000 a year as well as 25 plant level jobs paying between $70,000 and $85,000 a year.

Ertel said he expected the site would service an estimated 35 trucks in and out of facility a day but never more than 50 due to space limitations.  Eureka has plans to widen the plant entrance, Ertel said.

Neighbors to the Burdick Creek in Dimock Twp., began voicing concerns last month over Eureka’s announced plans to apply for a permit to discharge fracking wastewater.

Public comment period on the company’s application to discharge fracking discharge from its proposed plant at 7305 State Route 29 into Burdick Creek Tributary 29418 ended last month.

Local farmers graze cattle in the area of the creek and are concerned contaminants from the plant could harm their cows or pollute their milk.

Known technically as a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, or NPDES permit, the permit is “for the discharge of industrial wastes” connected to the “proposed oil and gas wastewater treatment facility.”

Besides questions over traffic on already heavily trucked Route 29, some in the audience raised concerns over possible contamination over radioactive sludge transported through the site.

“We never have had an exceedance of any OSHA permissible limit,” said company chief operating officer Kevin Thimmesch.   Any sludge produced in the water treatment process would be disposed of in a non-hazardous landfill.

State Sen. Katie Muth (D-44), who attended Monday’s meeting, cautioned the term “non-hazardous” could be misleading as residents in the area of the Belle Vernon landfill in western Pennsylvania have complained of health problem and poisonous material leaching from that landfill into the nearby Monongahela

“There’s no mandate to test that water,” noted Muth, a member of the senate environmental resources and energy committee and who represents parts of Berks, Chester and Montgomery Counties, pointing out what she described as a legal loophole in the landfill’s designation.

Company officials continued to maintain that the treated water released from their facilities, namely the one at Standing Stone, far exceeds any state Department of Environmental Protection standards for clean water.

“A majority of what we measure in our effluent at Standing Stone is not even detectable by analytical methodology,” said vice president of engineering Jerel Bogdan.

Tom Sipe, a longtime Dimock resident, “I am concerned about the environmental impact and I appreciate all of you people voicing your concerns about the environment.”

The self-proclaimed environmentalists were encouraged to visit the Standing Stone facility but while on their trip, Sipe invited them to stop and look at something for a minute. 

“On the way to the plant, if you are going west from Dimock, I want you to stop and take a minute to look at the illegal dumping which is going on just off the road.  If you’re truly, truly concerned about the environment, please go and take a look at that.  If you’re worried about water contamination, please take a look at that.  They’re not involved in the petrochemical business or anything else,” Sipe said.

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