An Antero Midstream Partners LP subsidiary has reached a settlement with two West Virginia environmental groups that resolves their appeal of permits for a 60,000 barrels/day wastewater treatment facility in Doddridge County that will require the company to monitor more closely for radioactivity there.
The West Virginia Rivers Coalition and the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy filed an appeal with the state Environmental Quality Board in June protesting the stormwater and solid waste permits for Antero’s Clearwater Facility and the landfill next to it. They claimed the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection failed to adequately evaluate the potential for disposal of radioactive waste at the site and asked that the permits be vacated and modified to protect against potential harms.
Instead, Antero Treatment LLC has agreed to file a plan with state regulators to comply with the more stringent requirements to guard against radioactive discharges. The settlement requires monthly analysis of salt samples randomly selected from trucks delivering to the landfill for a year. It also requires Antero to take monthly groundwater sampling for different types of radium over the same time and expands the company’s surface water monitoring to include bromide and total dissolved solids. Those results are to be shared with the environmental groups.
Antero, which soon expects to place the facility into service, has invested $275 million on the project. One of the largest facilities of its kind in the Appalachian Basin, the plant would process wastewater from Antero Resources Corp. shale wells in Ohio and West Virginia.It would produce salt and sludge byproducts in the process.
While the sludge can be trucked off site, the landfill would dispose of any salt the company can’t sell to third parties such as those that manufacture rock salt for roads. Oil and gas waste is known to have radioactive properties after coming into contact with naturally occuring materials deep below the earth’s surface.
The plant is centrally located in Antero’s core acreage position and is set to treat 95% of the producer’s water, eliminating the need for disposal wells and providing 41,000 barrels/day of freshwater for reuse in new wells.
The company’s permits allow it to discharge stormwater and other wastes into tributaries of the Hughes River and dispose of waste in the landfill. The settlement is legally binding and set to expire once the permits are renewed.
There was no evaluation for the potential for radioactivity from waste to be disposed of at this site, and no numeric effluent limitation sufficient to protect water quality standards related to radioactivity.