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Environmental Groups File Federal Lawsuit Over Drilling Wastewater

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Is Marcellus Shale wastewater still finding its way into our rivers and streams?

The state has asked water treatment plants to stop taking the wastewater, but environmental groups went to court Tuesday to make sure.

A few months back, a KDKA-TV crew observed trucks delivering shale gas wastewater for treatment at the McKeesport Municipal Water Authority.

The authority made no secret of treating the so-called backflow water and discharging it into the Monongahela River.

Two environmental groups said they are taking action to stop it.

"We are filing in federal court today a citizen's suit to uphold the Clean Water Act and to protect Pittsburgh's drinking water supply," Myron Arnowitt with Clean Water Action said.

Clean Water Action and Three Rivers Waterkeeper say McKeesport has accepted up to 100,000 gallons a day of the used frac water and they say the plant is neither permitted nor equipped to treat it.

"There are all sorts of toxins that are bad for both people and life in the river," Arnowitt explained.

The suit comes about four months after the state Department of Environmental Protection asked McKeesport and more than a dozen other treatment plants to stop accepting the waste.

And in fact, when KDKA Investigator Andy Sheehan called the McKeesport Authority on Tuesday, the director says the plant has not accepted any gas wastewater since April and has no plans of accepting it in the future.

Still, the environmentalists criticized the DEP for not making the order mandatory.

"Asking facilities and generators to voluntarily change their ways," Ned Mulcahey with Three Rivers Waterkeepers said. "They have more authority. We would expect them to use that authority,"

But while the state says it's taking the necessary steps to protect the public, environmentalists remain skeptical. And now a federal judge will decide who's right.

More Local News
More Reports By Andy Sheehan
Clean Water Action
Three Rivers Waterkeeper
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

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