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Environment & Energy

Water Group Applauds Proposed Consent Decree Between DEP and Waste Treatment Corp.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has proposed a consent decree with Waste Treatment Corporation following allegations of violations of the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.

Waste Treatment Corporation has a commercial water treatment facility in Warren, Pa. The DEP proposal comes after environmental group Clean Water Action filed a federal lawsuit against the company alleging it was illegally discharging up to 200,000 gallons per day of gas drilling wastewater into the Allegheny River. The group said the proposed consent decree is a step in the right direction.

“They (the DEP) are proposing that the company be required to install new treatment technology, which would remove much of the contamination by 2016,” said Clean Water Action’s Myron Arnowitt. “We think it’s really good that DEP is requiring this new technology, but we have a lot of concerns about how long it’s going to take.”

Arnowitt said that under the proposed agreement Waste Treatment Corp. can continue to discharge near current rates until 2016. The consent decree also proposes fining Waste Treatment Corp. $25,000 for violations of the state Clean Streams Law.

Arnowitt said he’s not sure that will be effective.

“DEP actually did fine the company for some past violations of their permit. They fined them $100,000 in 2011 but the violations didn’t stop,” said Arnowitt. “We question why, with all the violations that happened, why such a small amount and whether that’s really going to deter future problems.”

DEP is taking public comment on their proposed consent decree until December 23. Following the public comment period, the DEP can make changes to the proposal. It must then be approved by the Commonwealth Court before becoming final.

Representatives with Waste Treatment Corporation could not be reached for comment.