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U.S. Asks Six Natgas Drillers To Disclose Waste Info

Date: 13-May-11
Country: USA
Author: Timothy Gardner and Edward McAllister

Environmental regulators on Thursday directed six natural gas drillers to disclose how they dispose of or recycle waste water in Pennsylvania after a recent Chesapeake Energy Corp accident.

A regional office of the Environmental Protection Agency asked Chesapeake, Chevron-owned Atlas Resources, Talisman Energy USA, Range Resources, Cabot Gas and Oil Corp, and SWEPI, LP for the information.

The companies did not immediately respond to questions about the EPA request.

The request also follows recent reports that said waste water resulting from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, can contain radioactive particles.

"We want to make sure that the drillers are handling their wastewater in an environmentally responsible manner," Shawn Garvin, an EPA regional administrator, said in a release.

Garvin said EPA is continuing to work with Pennsylvania officials leading the permitting and regulating of natural gas drilling in the state.

The federal EPA's action follows a request by state regulators asking drillers to voluntarily stop taking wastewater to Pennsylvania wastewater treatment plants by May 19.

The EPA wants to know where drillers are now going to dispose of their wastewater and will work with the state to ensure it has access to this information. The EPA asked the companies to provide the information by May 25.

Chesapeake Energy halted fracking in Pennsylvania on April 21 after drilling fluid used in the process spewed into local waterways when workers lost control of a well.

Fracking involves releasing natural gas trapped in shale formations by blasting a mix of water, sand and chemicals into the rock. It has unlocked reserves that could supply the United States for 100 years, though environmentalists say that fracking can contaminate water supplies.

(Editing by David Gregorio and Lisa Shumaker)

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