Several million gallons of "frack" fluid for each well return to the surface as a heavy brine, far saltier than seawater. Disposal of these new volumes of brine is a challenge.
So far, well operators or their agents have been hauling most of the frack flowback to Ohio for underground injection, according to Peterson, because salt removal is expensive and only two Class II, or brine disposal, wells were permitted by West Virginia's Underground Injection Control program.
Now, though, nine commercial brine disposal injection wells are permitted, and seven are operating. Several more are in the permitting pipeline.
The DEP has not in the past required well operators to report their water management in detail.