The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

July 20, 2013

Plant awaiting go-ahead: Facility will reclaim water from fracking

Randy Griffith

JOHNSTOWN — The permit is on its way for Aspen Fluid Logistics’ proposed “frack water” treatment plant on Iron Street.

State Department of Environmental Protection spokes-man John Poister confirmed the state is expected to issue the final approval within two weeks.

“We have been working on this for a long time,” said Msgr. Raymond Balta, chairman of Johnstown Redevelopment Authority.

“I am excited, but we don’t have it in our hands.”

The permit will allow Aspen to assemble equipment capable of processing 50,000 gallons a day, removing impurities to bring the waste to drinking water standards, proponents say.

Reclaimed water will not be discharged into area streams, however. Poister said the water will be recycled to the very industry that created the waste.

“This permit authorizes the processing of the waste water for reuse by the drilling industry,” Poister said in an emailed statement.

“This permit encourages the use of the closed loop process ­­– the reuse of the water after it has been treated. Reuse of this liquid minimizes water withdrawals from rivers, streams and creeks and reduces the impact on the state’s water resources.”

Water treated at the Iron Street plant may include brine, flowback water, drilling muds and storm water.

All of the components for the pilot treatment plant have been acquired and are ready to go, Aspen President and CEO David Reifsnyder said.

“We are all on the edge of the chair waiting to hear,” he said. “We could have built it, but if the DEP tells me, ‘We don’t like it,’ they have the right to shut us down.”

Redevelopment authority Executive Director Frank

D’Ettorre said the plant could be up and running this fall.

The Aspen project was announced in April 2012 at a press conference at Aspen’s new Johnstown office in the former SS. Casimir & Emerich Church rectory at 501 Power St.

That plant was to be up and running last summer, but construction never got off the ground because of delays in the permitting process.

“Everything has been hinged on getting that permit,” Reifsnyder said.

Aspen also has a permit to dispose of “sludge” from the treatment process in landfills.

The ultimate goal remains to construct a larger plant on

50 acres of land owned by the redevelopment authority on a hillside above Iron Street.

Known as the Rosedale Tract and the Lower Ore Yard, the sites already have been cleared of any potential industrial con-tamination.

County Commissioner Doug Lengenfelder last week told fellow members of Johnstown-Cambria County Airport Authority the larger plant could be fully  developed sooner than anticipated.

Plans originally called for the  plant to process a million gallons a day, capable of expanding to 2 million and then 4 million gallons. But based on early commitments from drilling companies, Lengenfelder said, Aspen expects to bypass the 2-million-gallon plant and be ready to jump to 4 million in the near future.

“It is a modular design,” Lengenfelder said. “They can skip that (2-million-gallon) step.”

Eventually, the plant could reach 8 million gallons a day, employing as many as 250 people with an estimated total investment of $100 million.

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