Saturday, December 13, 2008

AP says drilling waste from Fayetteville shale gas wells used for irrigation found to be oily

The Morning News

Local News for Northwest Arkansas

Firm Ordered Not To Take Drilling Wastewater

CARLISLE -- A company that collects wastewater from natural gas companies drilling in the Fayetteville Shale has been ordered by environmental regulators to stop.

The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality issued the emergency order to Fayetteville Shale Land Farms near Carlisle after an inspection found the fluid -- a mixture of water and sediment discarded from the drilling process -- was not adequately contained on the property and included oil in violation of the state permit.

Arkansas has 13 "land farms." The operations use large plastic-lined ponds to hold drilling fluid, which they then use to irrigate crops. The wastewater must be contained and absorbed on the property and cannot include oil-based drilling fluids, which are listed as hazardous waste.

In its Dec. 3 order, the department said Fayetteville Shale Land Farms improperly applied the fluid to crops, creating pools on the Lonoke County property. Also, an inspector found "what appeared to be a large amount of oil in the staging pond."

According to the order, "Oil should not be found in the staging pond for fluids that are to be land applied."

Deputy Director Steve Martin said the inspection most likely was prompted by a complaint from a nearby resident.

A spokesman for Fayetteville Land Shale Farms did not immediately return a call for comment.

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