The US Coast Guard is seeking public comments on a proposal that would allow barges to transport shale gas wastewater. The wastewater is a byproduct of the drilling process, and it can include both man-made chemicals and naturally occurring heavy metals and radiation. The wastewater is currently stored at drilling sites or transported by truck or train to treatment plants and deep underground wells.
In recent years significant amounts of shale wastewater from Pennsylvania has been taken to Ohio. But the Coast Guard says barge companies are interested in taking wastewater down the Ohio River to disposal sites in Texas and Louisiana, too. The group PennEnvironment says the comment period should be longer than 30 days and that the proposal is flawed because it doesn't mention environmental safeguards.