A New Castle company is playing a key role with Marcellus Shale exploration in the region.
In fact, it could be said that the company is partly responsible for keeping drilling firms in operation.
Advanced Waste Services of Pennsylvania, which treats industrial waste water, is now treating water used in the fracking process.
The plant off Sampson Street treats 75,000 to 200,000 gallons of waste water per day. Shale drilling accounts for about 20 to 25 percent of the company’s business, according to Anthony Cialella, vice president and tri-state regional manager for Advanced Waste Services. The company has been treating water from shale drilling since 2006.
Cialella noted that last April, Gov. Tom Corbett requested that companies drilling into the Marcellus or Utica shale stop discharging water used in the fracking process into Pennsylvania’s streams.
Kevin Sunday, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, said the Marcellus Shale Coalition “got on board” with Corbett’s request.
“So we’re seeing more and more recycling.”
The water used in the drilling process in the western Pennsylvania region is hauled to the New Castle plant where any contaminants, heavy metals, salts and clorides are removed. The companies then “take it to the next job for fracking,” Cialella said.
“When the water comes in, it’s very salty,” he said. “They don’t want that put in the streams. It’s more economical to treat it and recycle it.”
He said the plant accepts water from drilling sites within a 150-mile radius.
Cialella explained companies either haul the water to the plant or Advanced Waste Services picks it up at the drilling site.
“It varies on where the work is being performed. If they’re drilling closer to our plant, they’ll come in. Our plant has taken water in from as far away as 150 miles. We go that far.
Basically, Cialella said, his company deals with sites in southwestern Pennsylvania.
The plant also treats drilling mud about two or three days a week. The mud, a lubricant used on the drill bits, sometimes becomes contaminated, he said. The material, which is in liquid form when it arrives at the plant, is solidified and taken to a landfill.
Advance Waste Services also has technicians that go to the well head to clean out the frack tanks that hold the water that flows back from the drilling process. The technicians have to undergo special training and must wear fire retardant clothing, Cialella said.
Workers enter the frack tanks, each of which holds 22,000 gallons of water. The water is vacuumed off first and the sand used in the process is then vacuumed.
The water is treated at Advanced Waste Services’ plant, then used again by the drilling company at its next site. The sand is transported to New Castle where it is solidified and firmed up, then removed to a landfill, Cialella said.
He said most of the water treated comes from the frack tanks while some may come from impoundment areas.
Cialella expects to see the company’s business increase as more shale drilling occurs in the region.
Mills, tool shops, manufacturers also use local firm
Most of Advanced Waste Services of Pennsylvania’s business involves treatment of water from steel mills, tool shops and chemical manufacturers.
Anthony Cialella, vice president and tri-state regional manager, said customers are generally any company that uses water in its process and picks up contaminants.
Advance Waste Services picks up the water and trucks it to its plant off Sampson Street, or companies haul it themselves. Every load that enters the facility passes through a radiation detector, Cialella said.
“We have never rejected a load because of radiation.”
Before the company accepts any water, the industry must provide a sample and information on the material. Approval is granted to the industry “after we get the OK” from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
Then the industry can take in their untreated water, he said.
Cialella explained a sample is taken from every load before it enters the facility to make sure it meets the DEP’s standards.
“We don’t accept any hazardous material.”
He added, “We make sure we don’t take anything above what our permit allows us to take in.”
After the industrial waste water is treated, a sample is taken. If it meets the discharge limits set by the New Castle Sanitation Authority, the water is then discharged to the sanitary sewer system.
A sludge that remains behind is pumped to a filter press, which squeezes out the water and creates a filter cake. The cake is combined with other waste and taken to a landfill.