CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Environmentalists have reached an agreement with Antero Treatment that calls for monitoring for radioactivity and bromide around its landfill in northern West Virginia that takes the waste from recycled groundwater used in hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.
It settles an appeal by the West Virginia Rivers Coalition and West Virginia Highlands Conservancy of the state permit for the landfill, which takes salt byproducts from Antero's adjacent wastewater recycling facility. Both are located on 447 acres (181 hectares) in Ritchie and Doddridge counties.
The environmental groups say the permit allows discharging stormwater runoff and associated pollutants into tributaries of the Hughes River upstream within 5 miles (8 kilometers) of Harrisville's public water system intake.
"This is one example of how the state is tasked with evaluating new sources of pollution brought about by the fracking boom," said Angie Rosser, executive director of West Virginia Rivers Coalition. "We need to find out sooner rather than later if we're seeing harmful things, like radioactivity, affecting our water supplies."
The groups say the compound bromide is known to cause problems for treating drinking water.
According to Denver-based parent company Antero Resources Corp., about 95 percent of the water it uses for fracking will be treated at the recycling facility, nearly eliminating the need for wastewater disposal wells and reducing withdrawals from West Virginia's waterways. Salt will constitute about 92 percent of all solid byproducts, it said.
The company drills for natural gas in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Antero Treatment and Antero Resources did not immediately reply to a request for comment Tuesday.
The agreement signed Dec. 8 requires one initial year of monitoring for radioactivity in materials entering the landfill and in groundwater monthly, as well as regular monitoring for bromide and solids in surface water discharges.
That includes a monthly lab analysis of salt samples from a truck that passed through the landfill's radiation detection equipment. If two or more lab samples significantly deviate from the detection equipment measurements, Antero will conduct an additional year of sampling.
If any monthly groundwater sampling for radium is significantly higher than background levels, the agreement says Antero will conduct another year of that sampling.