Home | Perspectives |Shale Energy Law Blog | Wastewater Transportation, Management, and Disposal in Ohio
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Wastewater Transportation, Management, and Disposal in Ohio

Ohio law currently authorizes two options for the disposal of the wastewater generated from natural gas production operations – injection into a Class II underground injection control (UIC) well or spreading on roads as a deicer. However, with the development of the Utica Shale in Ohio on the rise, and a significant percentage of the wastewater already being disposed in Ohio’s 179 operating UIC wells coming from out of state, alternative means for the transportation, temporary management, and disposal of the wastewater are being considered.

Industry is advocating the transportation of brine and other liquid wastes by river barge as more efficient, economical, and environmentally sound than transportation by tanker trucks. The U.S. Coast Guard, the agency authorized to regulate the nation’s waterways, plans to issue a decision on the permissibility of wastewater transport via barge in the near future. With respect to the temporary management of wastewater prior to disposal, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is expected to initiate rulemakings addressing storage in pits and impoundments. ODNR currently requires wastewater to be stored in steel tanks.

The disposal capacity of Ohio’s UIC wells has also been an issue of concern. While no permits for new UIC wells were issued for nearly 11 months after seismic events in Youngstown, Ohio were connected to a nearby UIC well, ODNR has issued 10 permits for new UIC wells since November 2012 with another 30 permit applications pending. ODNR also encourages the recycling and re-use of wastewater from one well site for drilling and production operations at other well sites. Another recent development with the potential to alleviate the burden on UIC wells is the disposal of solidified brine in Ohio’s solid waste landfills. Interest in the process of accepting brine for solidification and, ultimately, disposal at solid waste landfills has increased since an Advisory contemplating the practice was issued by Ohio EPA in September 2012. Currently, one landfill in Stark County, one in Mahoning County, and two in Fairfield County have permitted solidification facilities.