If water is our most precious resource — and judging by my latest water bill the government seems to agree — why is the situation as reported June 12 (“Range Resources’ John Day Waste Impoundment Leak a Bigger Problem”) allowed to occur?
Fracking is here to stay. That may not be my wish, but it is a fact. The thousands of wells in Pennsylvania each use millions of gallons of water in the process. They reuse the water as many times as possible; When it becomes useless to the drillers it becomes waste water.
The cheapest way to deal with the waste water is to place it in a settling pond and hope that all the bad stuff settles out, so that the company can then remove the solids and bury them in a toxic landfill. The process does not always work. The settling pond can be overwhelmed by rainfall and can develop cracks in its earthen structure (think Johnstown Flood). There are many potential problems associated with settling ponds. The Arkansas hog waste ponds and the Duke Energy fly ash ponds come to mind.
This problem has a solution. Existing technology can be used to clean the water. However, this is very expensive and the existing water treatment plants are not near the fracking and they were not built to handle the volume that would be required.
The northeast corner of the North American continent holds a large percentage of the world’s fresh water supply. Pennsylvania and the Pittsburgh area have a large share. Are we going to allow this resource to be destroyed so that a company can show a slightly higher profit? Clean up the waste water and quit storing billions of gallons in open earthen holding ponds, waiting for an environmental disaster.