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Coast Guard Considers Changes In Hydraulic Fracturing Wastewater Transport On Rivers

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Digital Visual Library

The U.S. Coast Guard is considering a policy change to allow the transport of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, on inland waterways.

Oil and gas companies currently transport most of their wastewater by truck from the shale fields in Ohio and Pennsylvania to states with lighter regulations on storage, like Texas and Louisiana.

Now companies want to take the river route to save on fuel and personnel costs. But chemicals and other minerals in the wastewater could prove too risky to move by barge.

U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Dan McQuate says the main concern is always safety.

“Obviously if industry comes back and say ‘We think this is garbage, we think it should be done this way,’ but it’s not done safely with what their proposing it’s not something that we’re gonna be able to do,” McQuate We’re concerned with the safety, making sure this stuff bring any hazard to the public.”

The process of moving the wastewater has gone through many different agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy and the Department of Transportation.

McQuate says the chemical makeup of the wastewater could prove disastrous in the event of a spill, so there is a lot of red tape.

“There are reports that some of the stuff has ten times more salt than salt water,” he said “We don’t want that getting into the water up here. That could destroy ecosystems, kill plans on its own.”

Currently there is wastewater storage in Kentucky from hydraulic fracturing. Though it’s unclear what this policy would mean for those sites in the Commonwealth.

The potential policy change is open to a 30-day public comment period that closes at the end of November.

Click on the link below to access to public comment site:

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