WARREN - The existing permit ends today for the Warren Water Pollution Control Facility to dispose of treated brine water in the Mahoning River. Until hearings are held on new regulations, however, the practice is expected to continue.
As it stands, that's a temporary reprieve for Director Tom Angelo and at least one city business associated with the practice, Patriot Water Treatment.
Patriot pretreats the wastewater trucked into the city from natural gas drilling sites to remove heavy metals, bromide and other contaminants. That brine water is then sent into Warren's sewer to the city plant before it is discharged into the Mahoning River.
Warren Water Pollution Control Department Director Tom Angelo answers questions
Last year, Ohio EPA informed Warren it would not reauthorize this activity and that the city's discharge of brine wastewater would end with its existing permit effective today.
A draft permit in place prohibits the city from accepting, treating and discharging brine wastewater from shale gas drilling, exploration or production.
However, Angelo explained Monday that when a new permit is not yet in effect, a facility may continue to operate under the terms of the existing permit, and Warren will continue to receive treated brine water from Patriot until the issue is settled.
Tribune Chronicle / Dan Pompili
Warren Water Pollution Control Department Director Tom Angelo is shown Monday at the Main Avenue S.W. treatment facility.
"We have an existing permit that is still in place," he said.
Warren also has requested an adjudication hearing with a pre-hearing date set for Feb. 14.
"By Ohio EPA's own rules, they can't move forward on the issuance of a new permit if there is an adjudication request," Angelo said.
The EPA worked with Patriot Water Treatment, beginning in 2009, to collect data that determined the process to be environmentally safe. However, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources said in May that all Marcellus Shale wastewater would be injected into deep wells and that the permit would be not renewed.
With the shale drilling boom in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York, and the need to have the wastewater treated, Patriot is in position to become a major contributor.
"Consistent with applicable Ohio law and consistent OEPA practice, Patriot Water Treatment and Warren will continue to operate as usual pending the outcome of the adjudicatory hearing," the company said in a release. "In addition, Patriot is committed to using all legal and regulatory remedies available to protect its legal right to operate."