Leaky frack tanks and improper storage of waste sand at unpermitted sites in Lycoming and Sullivan counties have caused the state Department of Environmental Protection to fine EXCO Resources, of Warrendale, Allegheny County.
The company was fined $47,500 after it failed to apply for the proper permits for waste transfer stations, in violation of the Solid Waste Management Act, according to DEP.
Luckily, DEP discovered the leaky tanks in time to prevent damage to the environment, according to Daniel Spadoni, community relations coordinator for the agency.
The infractions were discovered in Anthony Township in November by members of DEP's Oil and Gas Program, who noticed the violations while performing field work, according to Spadoni. Investigators uncovered 19 fracking tanks that were contaminated with flowback water, which resulted in a high level of conductivity within the waste.
Waste was dripping from a leak between the first and second tanks, but the fluid remained within the containment area, Spadoni said.
Investigators suspect that flowback water came from the nearby EXCO well pads. The department subsequently gave a notice of violation to EXCO, which required the company to transport the waste to a permitted facility until the company had received the proper permits for the area.
The site was inspected again in January. At that time, investigators discovered that the tanks had been emptied of waste, but more violations were discovered, including improper storage of waste sand in six roll-off containers.
Later that month, investigators found seven frack tanks that contained flowback water at the EXCO site in Shrewsbury Township, Sullivan County. The department issued another violation for the tanks, which were not leaking, according to Spadoni.
"For each transfer station, EXCO should have applied to DEP for a solid waste processing permit that has specific requirements for the safe storage, processing and transfer of residual wastes," said DEP Northcentral Regional Director Marcus Kohl. "The permit requirements ensure proper protection of the environment as well as public health and safety."
DEP said EXCO paid its fine to the Solid Waste Abatement Fund.