Lagoons filled with toxic water coming to Ohio’s fracklands

John Upton, Grist

Where frackers go, lagoons filled with toxic wastewater follow.

Fracking wastewater impoundment lots as big as football fields already dot heavily fracked landscapes in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The lagoons are built to help the industry manage and reuse the vast volumes of wastewater that it produces.

Ohio lawmakers looked admiringly to their neighboring Marcellus Shale states and decided to draw up their own rules for wastewater lagoons. From The Columbus Dispatch:

“We are putting in a process to outline their standards of construction and their length of use,” said Mark Bruce, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.


A provision in the most-recent state budget requires Natural Resources officials to create rules and permits for them. …

Tom Stewart, vice president of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, said the lagoons would be built with plastic liners to prevent leaks. He said treatment operations would strip out harmful pollutants.

“They want to clean it up and use it again,” Stewart said. “That means getting the water back to as fresh a state as possible.”

But environmentalists worry the wastewater pits will pose threats to streams and groundwater. Trent Dougherty, a lawyer with the Ohio Environmental Council, also warned that they could be used as long-term storage for tainted water: “There is a point in time when temporary storage can become long-term storage,” he said.


John Upton is a science fan and green news boffin who tweets, posts articles to Facebook, and blogs about ecology. He welcomes reader questions, tips, and incoherent rants: