A recent story published in the Post-Gazette regarding sampling for the presence of bromides in Southwestern Pennsylvania rivers simplified and sensationalized the issue unnecessarily, and incorrectly targeted the permitted treatment of wastewater from conventional oil and gas operations (i.e., not from Marcellus Shale) as a prominent source for isolated incidents of elevated bromide levels.
That article ("Study Finds Lower Bromide Levels in Mon, but Not in Allegheny," Nov. 13) requires the insertion of important facts and historical information.
Facilities that accept and treat conventional oil and gas wastewater have reported bromide levels to the state Department of Environmental Protection for many years, in both incoming wastewater and in treated water. The DEP has not established a limit on bromides in treated discharges because bromide is not toxic.
The treatment of wastewater from conventional oil and gas operators has been reduced by an average 50-80 percent in the past four years -- with volumes at their lowest point in nearly 15 years. This fact should point any investigation about potentially elevated bromide in surface water to the many other sources in Pennsylvania that are known to contribute to bromide levels, including coal-burning power plants and acidic mine discharges.
Even with those additional sources, the periods in which bromides were found to be elevated in the Allegheny River in recent sampling were during a handful of days of low stream flow. These isolated periods are far outside the norm, and create an overstated potential for concern.
Pennsylvania's oil and gas industry is at the forefront of improving every aspect of their operations, especially with the recycling and advanced technologies in wastewater treatment for both conventional and unconventional wells.
LOUIS D. D'AMICO
President & Executive Director
Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association