EPA: To regulate disposal of fracking wastewater

October 23, 2011 - 12:00 PM

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) — Federal environmental regulators say they will develop national standards for the disposal of polluted wastewaters generated by hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.

Also known as fracking, the technique uses millions of gallons of water, along with sand and chemical additives, to unlock gas in deep shale formations in Pennsylvania, Texas and other states. Its use has increased dramatically in recent years, raising concerns about the potential impact on water quality.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday that it will draft standards for fracking wastewater that drillers would have to meet before sending it to treatment plants.

The industry already recycles much of the wastewater or injects it deep underground, but some of it is sent to treatment plants that are often ill-equipped to handle it.