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ODNR Updates Pipeline Standards; Wastewater Regs Nearly Complete

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) has updated its pipeline standard and construction specifications, and its work to finalize draft regulations on rules for wastewater recycling is nearly complete.

Shale gas development continues to accelerate in the state and as a result midstream companies plan to spend about $40 billion on infrastructure projects over the next three to five years in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, according to one analysis by Marcellus Drilling News (see Shale Daily, Oct. 25). At the same time, increasing volumes of fracking waste, mostly trucked in from out of state, and a desire from operators to recycle more of that waste for reuse found state legislators approving the use of wastewater storage impoundments over the summer, leading ODNR to craft new rules for the temporary pits and recycling facilities (see Shale Daily, Oct. 11).

Ohio's pipeline standards were last updated in 2009. The standards provide guidelines and recommendations to help rural landowners and farmers restore soil productivity and agricultural drainage after the installation of pipelines.

The standards are not a mandatory requirement, but instead they offer a technical resource that midstream companies, landowners and farmers can use to minimize the impacts of pipeline construction on Ohio's soil and water resources. The updates to the state's standards were announced on Friday.

In October, ODNR also said it was working on new rules that would govern large football field-sized wastewater impoundments. The pits have been employed by operators in other parts of the Appalachian Basin, primarily as a source of water in dry areas, or as a tool to reduce truck traffic and reuse the water in a closed-loop system.

ODNR had said it hoped to complete those rules by the end of the year, but only draft regulations have been completed to date. Before the rule change, Ohio regulations permitted the use of lined impoundments for the temporary storage of freshwater for drilling, but allowed wastewater to only be stored in above ground covered steel tanks. Starting in January, Ohio will begin permitting the wastewater impoundments.

The proposed rules call for plastic liners and monitors that could detect leaks and help protect groundwater and storage tanks would get ledges to contain spills.

More wastewater recycling plants are planned for the state as well, and early proposals would call for their placement far away from streams and parts of the state prone to flooding.

Last year, Ohio injected 14.2 million barrels of waste in underground wells.

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