Off-target on bromides
Published: Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012, 8:51 p.m.
The news story “Bromide down in Mon, still elevated in Allegheny” (Nov. 9 and TribLIVE.com) simplified and sensationalized the issue unnecessarily, incorrectly targeted permitted treatment of wastewater from conventional oil and gas operations (i.e., not from Marcellus shale operations) as a prominent source for isolated incidents of elevated bromide levels and requires the insertion of important facts and historical information.
Facilities that treat conventional oil and gas wastewater have reported bromide levels in incoming and treated water to the state Department of Environmental Protection for many years. The DEP has not established a limit on bromides in treated discharges because bromides are not toxic.
Treatment of wastewater from conventional oil and gas operators has been reduced by an average of 50 percent to 80 percent in the past four years — with volumes at their lowest in nearly 15 years. This fact should point any investigation about potentially elevated bromides in surface water to the many other sources known, including coal-burning power plants and acidic mine discharges.
Even with those additional sources, elevated bromides were found in the Allegheny River during a handful of days of low stream flow. These isolated periods are far outside the norm and create an overstated potential for concern.
Pennsylvania's oil and gas industry is at the forefront of improving every aspect of its operations, especially with recycling and advanced technologies in wastewater treatment for conventional and unconventional wells.
Louis D. D'Amico
The writer is president and executive director of the Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association (pioga.org).
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