FINLEYVILLE – EQT Corp. hopes to start constructing a freshwater impoundment and conveyance system to pipe water into its Trax Farm well pad as early as Sept. 9 – just in time for fracking operations to begin.
While it would significantly reduce truck traffic, some Union Township residents are skeptical about the company’s promise to keep it a freshwater impoundment. During a conditional use hearing Wednesday, several residents referred to impoundments in Washington County, owned by a different company, that started out holding fresh water and later made the switch to flowback water.
“It will never be a frack wastewater pond,” Todd Klaner, permitting supervisor of EQT, said in response to concerns.
Union Township supervisors will vote on the conditional use application during a regular meeting at 7 p.m. Sept. 8.
The single-lined impoundment would be capable of holding up to 1.3 million gallons of water, which would be piped into tanks at the adjacent Trax well pad, formerly operated by Chesapeake Energy, near the intersection of Trax Road and Route 88.
If approved, water would be piped through a six-inch polyethylene water line from Pennsylvania American Water Co.’s Turkeyfoot vault in Peters Township across Sugar Camp Road and Route 88 and into the impoundment for storage. Two pipes will then carry water from the impoundment to the well pad.
All piping will be above ground, except for the area where pipelines cross underneath the two roads, and other accommodations could be made for the landowner’s farm.
Klaner said if the impoundment is constructed before fracking begins in October, it would eliminate the need for 380 trucks per day to bring water to the well pad.
“It’s going to be more economic for us,” Klaner said. “It’s going to be less impactful to the township.”
There are 13 properties within 300 feet of the proposed impoundment and conveyance system. Gary Baumgardner, one of the affected property owners, asked McMurray photographer Bob Donnan to speak on his behalf.
Donnan gave a Powerpoint presentation outlining reported issues at several wastewater impoundments owned by Range Resources, including recent leaks at the Jon Day and Yeager impoundments in Amwell Township.
Blaine Lucas, attorney for EQT, objected to Donnan’s presentation, calling it “just not relevant” to EQT’s application for a freshwater impoundment. Township Solicitor Christopher Furman permitted Donnan to continue his presentation.
Donnan said a majority of the wastewater impoundments started out as freshwater impoundments, and he said the “temporary” label of these impoundments is misleading.
“This is the big problem of these impoundments that have stuck around for a long time,” Donnan said. “And how do you know if they’re going to get closed? They should have a date when they’re going to be closed or some definite marker.”
Tony Cecchini, of Cardox Road, referenced a 2012 incident in which flowback water leaked from an EQT impoundment designated for freshwater in Tioga County. According to an EQT document, this was because of a “surface impoundment line failure” at its Phoenix S well pad.
“If you can have flowback in a freshwater impoundment, then is it really a freshwater impoundment?” Cecchini asked.
Klaner said EQT would need to apply for a “major modification” to its permit if it wanted to store flowback water at the proposed location, but reiterated that the company has no intention of doing so.