WARREN - The city's Wastewater Department no longer will be able to accept drilling site brine water from the Patriot Water plant, treat it and send it into local waterways, according to its new permit.
The loss of Warren as a customer would effectively close the business, Patriot President Andrew Blocksom said.
"My facility is designed to treat wastewater," he said Monday. "I take water that can be recycled. I give it to Warren so it can be reused again. If I don't have Warren, I cease to exist."
Warren's Wastewater Department no longer will be able to accept drilling site brine water from the P
But the permit issued to the city plant does not place a limit on the amount of total dissolved solids - other than brine - that may be sent through the plant, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency spokesman Mike Settles said. The city was issued a five-year National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit.
"While the wastewater plant will not be able to treat brine water, this permit will allow them to attract new businesses," he said. "Warren should be able to bring in and process waters from other industries."
Mayor Doug Franklin expressed some relief that the Ohio EPA listened to the concerns of the city and area businesses in their opposition to limiting total dissolved solids.
"This is business-friendly that benefits all businesses in the Mahoning Valley, particularly those on the Mahoning River Corridor," Franklin said. "It aides us in our attempts to retain and create jobs."
In the issuance of permits to the city and Patriot Water Treatment, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency reaffirmed its earlier stance that it does does not have the authority to do so for brine water.
"That authority belongs to the Department of Natural Resources and, to my understanding, they are not allowing any wastewater treatment plant to process brine water and inject it into the waterways," Settles said. "It messes up the water quality, threatens aquatic life and creates concern for water quality."
The concern is that brine is high in solids, which generally pass through waste water facilities without being significantly reduced, he said.
Franklin says the decision not to allow the city to accept brine water from Patriot will have an economic impact on the city.
"We have earned approximately $350,000 annually from Patriot and had the potential of earning much more," Safety-Service Director Enzo Cantalamassa said. "Patriot also created new jobs. Those are two areas that we obviously want to continue."
The city's permit becomes effective on April 1. The EPA will monitor the discharges at least twice a week.
Meanwhile, a permit to install which was given to Patriot approves the installation of large receiving tanks and allows the company to accept and treat wastewater from new sources.
Blocksom said, "We feel this is a personal attack against our company from Director Scott Nally and it is offensive," Blocksom said. "It is time we get answers."
Blocksom said Patriot has had to file a lawsuit against the Ohio EPA to obtain information on why it believes the permit is not legal.
"All we want are questions answered," Blocksom said. "We can answer any questions about what we do and the safety of the water once we finish the processing of the brine that comes through our plant. There is no reason to shut us down."
Blocksom in court hearing on Wednesday will seek to obtain an injunction which will end Ohio EPA's effort to prevent Warren from accepting brine water from oil and gas companies that were treated at his plant and further processing it.
"After Wednesday, we also can seek justice through the appeals court and through ERAC (the Environmental Review Appeals Commission) in Columbus," he said. "We have a hearing before ERAC on March 26 in Columbus.
"This permit does not affect our overall business," he said. "We are still operating. If there was a problem with our business, we would have been shut down."