Posts from category "What's New"
What's So “Experimental”
About Epiphany's Tech Anyways?
By Georgeanna DeCarlo
In a presentation at a CAMA meeting last year, Thomas Joseph said his facility would use an experimental technology that he created to treat fracking wastewater. Until his DEP permit application was made available to the public, skeptics had little but Joseph's carefully chosen wordage to investigate his claim. And Epiphany's original DEP permit application probably got a cheer from Joseph's proponents because it probably looked a lot like they expected it to look.
But after Epiphany's permit was made available to the public and reviewed by scientists, doctors, engineers not affiliated with Epiphany or the gas and oil industry who tore the thing apart noting deficiencies, discrepancies and stating their objections during public commenting period – the bedraggled permit is causing the facility to look less like a magic machine and more like a – uh oh! - regular zero discharge fracking wastewater treatment facility. Maybe Rumple can't spin frack fluid and produce chemical free, non-toxic, non-radioactive water out of it after all.
So, did DEP hand Epiphany's permit back? Nope. They continued doing what they'd been doing for months- notifying Epiphany about what they needed to change to make their permit compliant. Epiphany's permit is still awaiting DEP approval.
Which brings up one of many great points that Allegheny Defense Project made in its 45-page comment regarding CAMA's Waterways and Wetlands Encroachment permit affiliated with Epiphany's to create the frack WWTF. “This cozy relationship that DEP has with the regulated community can be seen playing out in this case. For example, on December 20, 2017, David Shimmel, Chief of the New Source Review Section for the North Central Regional Office, sent an email to various DEP officials regarding a phone conference with Epiphany.46 According to Mr. Shimmel’s email, Epiphany “provided some very important clarifications on their project at [CAMA].”47 Those clarifications were as follows: • [Epiphany] will be processing ONLY produced fluids from producing wells. • [Epiphany] will NOT be processing frac fluid or flowback water. • [Epiphany] will be receiving produced fluids from one customer only: JKLM Energy • Reportedly, JKLM Energy does NOT use methanol for deicing or as a hydrate inhibitor. • [Epiphany] will use electric motor driven vapor recompression units, not natural gas-fired engines. • [Epiphany] will only need a 500 bbl/day throughput limit, not 1,000 bbl/day.48 Mr. Shimmel then explained that “[t]hese clarifications change our approach and it sets the table for exemption to be possible.”49 In other words, DEP was working with the applicant (i.e., its “client”) to find a way to exempt the project from certain permitting requirements. One day later, however, Mr. Shimmel sent a follow-up email stating that “JKLM could not guarantee there would be no frac fluid and flowback in the wastewater that Epiphany will receive” and that, as a result, “Epiphany recanted on the first four bullet items” identified above. This is a significant clarification. Nevertheless, Mr. Shimmel reiterated that DEP was still working with Epiphany to navigate the application process on “[t]he road to exemption[.]”50 It is not the role of a trustee to bend over backwards to find ways to exempt industrial activities from environmental regulation-” pg. 11 ADF comment to DEP https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1xUxl1lAyj0-p9BWGjOkRlzg2llMwcNRz
In what resembled more of an Epiphany press release than news story, “Epiphany touts science of fracking plant to stakeholders,” By Bob Clark, Special to The (Salamanca) Press, Mar 27, 2018 Epiphany gives an update regarding their permit. “'We’ve been told we’ll have permitting in early May,” Broeker told the guests, adding the project should be receiving the necessary approvals from the state Department of Environmental Protection.'”
Really? Where's the follow up from Clark, the fact check with DEP? Again, very concise verbiage from Broeker here. These are guys that you have to listen to carefully, read the fine print, figure out what's between the lines and what isn't there at all. Not the kind of people I like doing business with but hey, I didn't pick them, CAMA did.
In Environmental Health News, “New York Tribe Takes On Pittsburgh Startup To Defend The Allegheny River,” Tom Joseph blamed opponents for holding up his permit but last I knew, correspondence between Epiphany and DEP showed that Epiphany hadn't responded with their resolutions to deficiencies noted in a DEP notification to them dated February 14, 2018.
Just what exactly is so experimental about Joseph's self-acclaimed unique tech?
“The facility, first proposed by JKLM and Epiphany in 2016, would deploy an experimental technology developed by Epiphany to treat wastewater from nearby fracking wells, discharging the treated water into the municipal sewage treatment plant which in turn discharges its effluent into the Allegheny River. -”https://news.littlesis.org/2018/04/04/pegula-backed-fracking-waste-firm-uses-racist-language-to-attack-opponents/
One of the explanations Joseph gave to stymie refunds and ward off threats of pursuing legal action against him years after his 3-month onEpuck kickstarter campaign ended was a plea for patience from his backers while he got his tech patented.
And, according to his website, tech for his on-site fracking well pad equipment is still waiting patent approval. “Epiphany's E5H is a well-pad based Produced Water treatment solution that is designed to meet the needs of the Oil & Gas industry, particularly hydro-fractured shale wells....Epiphany’s patent pending technology enables Oil & Gas operators to:” http://www.epiphanyws.com/produced-water/
Is Joseph's tech “new” because of its portable units and hybrid energy source? Although solar power is a clever strategy that I support and would love to see more widely implemented, maybe Epiphany encountered the same dilemma I faced when investigating solar power for my home: our area receives an annual daily average of about four hours of sunlight so in order to produce enough power consistently to run a household requires hefty additional support of very expensive charge holding units.
But wouldn't that have been one of the first factors that Epiphany considered before creating a partnership with CAMA? And were critical components of what Epiphany called its “new tech” lost after being revamped from being “portable” technology to a permanent base as a facility?
Joseph's remark in a recent interview paints a different picture than the concept of “new tech” that he presented at CAMA's meeting last year.
“What's different about Epiphany's proposal is the size of their water treatment technology, which is significantly smaller than Eureka's.
"'Henry Ford didn't invent automobiles; he just figured out how to mass produce them," Joseph said. "We've done that with distillation technology. We didn't invent it, but what we're proud of is that we miniaturized it so we can mass produce it at about 10 percent of cost anyone else can do it at.'" http://www.ehn.org/new-york-tribe-takes-on-pittsburgh-startup-to-defend-the-allegheny-river-2554105551.html
So if Epiphany's “new tech” all along has been nothing more than miniaturization of standard “zero discharge” desalination equipment already in use, then objections that Public Herald Investigative Reporter Joshua Pribanic raised at DEP's hearing in January against local long time water protectors for testifying in support of Epiphany, were well founded after all.
DEP just cited the Eureka facility in Williamsport on January 24 for “violation of effluent limits.”
JKLM announced that it's withdrawing from this project. Pribanic said that he was told by an Epiphany rep on Friday to expect an announcement Monday. CAMA slated a Special Meeting for Monday at 6:30.
I am grateful for all the people and officials who've stepped in and demanded a cautionary approach. I hope that plans for this facility end similar to the quest to learn the number of licks it takes to get to the tootsie roll center of a tootsie pop. That is, of course, before Purdue University created a “licking machine” and figured it out.
UPDATE: Saw an eagle - a very big eagle - sitting in a tree near my driveway yesterday when I got home from a Save The Allegheny meeting with Degawenodas Ni Ah Agatayonih, his beautiful wife Huitzilin/jitöwëdöh (and even their cute little dog! :) ) yesterday. Nature talks!Georgeanna DeCarloFebruary 26 at 8:31amNow we can add Toles Hollow Road in Coudersport, to the list of locations cited in “Where Are Your Best Chances To See Bald Eagles in Pennsylvania?” - PennLines.com.Last year people saw for the first time, a bald eagle fishing and perched in trees alongside the Allegheny, or as the Senecas call it, Ohi:yo River, where Epiphany Environmental wants to build a frack wastewater treatment facility (WWTF) with support from Coudersport Area Municipal Authority (CAMA). Appearance of an eagle at this site speaks volumes. We've much to be grateful for as residents of this area. Timing is everything. And we just got a big wake up call.For a bald eagle to show up at this exact spot is incredible. That one even exists anymore is extraordinary in itself. Brought back from the edge of extinction, the bald eagle is only around due to the efforts of people who decided his presence was worth fighting for. “You don't know what you got 'til it's gone,” is a popular saying. But I think that having being said so often, it's created a change in the dynamics of our society. We're getting better at reading signs. Things don't have to be gone anymore for us to realize their value. I heard about the eagle being here from a new friend at a meeting to oppose the frack WWTF. She said that she'd seen an eagle there many times and had pictures of him. For me, these are elements of the silver lining in an otherwise dismal forecast. We'd become strangers to our neighbors, taken our land, water, air, plants, animals for granted. Infrastructure and landscape of our little town was ever changing to appease corporate interests of a select few. We have been awoken to measure the importance of reclaiming our roles as stewards of this area. We are better acquainting ourselves with our neighbors and uniting with people we might not have met otherwise. Intervening with a corporation's plan that endangered public and environmental safety brought what was hidden to light. Now our community has the opportunity to choose its direction. We can push for the plan to bring our town into alignment with ideals supported by our neighbors and consider new opportunities for alternative safe, sustainable energy sources. But it takes dispelling misinformation proponents of this facility are projecting. These calls to action signify eagle's presence/presents, eagle's “medicine” as elders of indigenous societies refer to it.I went to that spot recently to see if I could see an eagle there myself. I didn't see one then but he showed up in an even more thrilling way, about 60 miles north and downriver. As I neared the meeting place in Salamanca, NY where I was headed to talk with friends, members of the Seneca Nation, I crossed the Ohi:yo. From my right the ginormous wing span of a bird overhead caught my attention. I saw the white on its back as he passed right in front of my car. A shiver of goosebumps went through me. A bald eagle. The actual point of contact became insignificant which was part of his message. It didn't matter where I saw him on the river, it was all connected. Just like all of us. Lakota people have a saying that recognizes unity of all – people, animals, plants, universal rhythm of the elements, “Mitakuye Oyasin,” we are all relatives - we are all related, which is reminiscent of The Golden Rule; do unto others what you would have done unto yourself. However, I think that living in a society where self-loathing is prevalent, the ideal to do unto others as we would have done unto ourselves creates a precarious situation and speaks to the heart of the matter here. Abusing others, abusing our environment becomes a justifiable cause, an end to a means for a person who hasn't healed past traumas, believes that money can buy happiness. Too much has already fallen waste at the heels of this destructive mindset and it's time to bring our society back into balance. As fracking and pipeline proponents consider what an acceptable threshold for loss of life is, I say that the loss of one life is one life too many. Perhaps that's why so many brilliant people precluded the suggestion to be thoughtful first of impact of our actions on others by suggesting that before we even do that, we must remember who we were and what was important to us as children. Before heartaches and belief systems, societal constructs and paychecks skewed our view.Mitakuye Oyasin. Namaste.
The following are links to letters sent to the DEP regarding Permit Application (NO: 5317201) filed by Epiphany Allegheny, LLC, for a Centralized Waste Treatment Facility. Epiphnay plans to pre-treat waste from unconventional wells for discharge to Coudersport Area Municipal Authority's sewage plant for further treatment and discharge to the headwaters of the Allegheny River.
On January 26 Seneca Media and Communications Center made the following announcement.
The Seneca Nation is calling upon the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) to reject permit applications for a destructive water quality management and discharge plan at the headwaters of the Allegheny River that would have severe impacts on the Nation’s Allegany Territory, located 65 miles downstream from the project. In a letter to PA DEP officials, Seneca Nation President Todd Gates called for the denial of the proposed plan by Epiphany Allegheny, LLC (Epiphany) and the Coudersport Area Municipal Authority (CAMA) that would allow for the transport, treatment and release of thousands of gallons of dangerous wastewater from hydraulic fracturing (fracking) into the Allegheny River.“Allowing this plan to move forward would permit poisonous contaminants to travel downstream into New York State and onto the sovereign ancestral lands of the Seneca Nation, which sit upon the Ohi:yo (Allegheny River),” stated President Gates. “The Seneca people have a deep spiritual connection with the land and we depend on our natural resources, including native plants, trees, wildlife, fish and water. These resources are critical components of our culture. We will zealously defend and protect what remains of our territories and our natural resources, which would be further threatened by this dangerous plan.”The current plan by Epiphany calls for wastewater created by fracking, a practice not legal in New York State nor authorized on Seneca Nation lands, to be transported to the CAMA wastewater plant in Eulalia Township, where it would be treated and released into the Allegheny River system. The proposed treatment facility would discharge up to 42,000 gallons of treated fracking water into the river each day, although the plant can process between 20,000 – 80,000 gallons daily. Water used for fracking in Pennsylvania contains high levels of radiation.In his letter, President Gates contends that during extreme high water events, which are a regular occurrence in the region, contaminated sediment from the facility will be transported and deposited downstream, ultimately accumulating in the Allegheny Reservoir, which sits on Seneca Nation Territory. The reservoir was created by the construction of the Kinzua Dam in the 1960s, when 10,000 acres of Seneca land was condemned by the United States government and approximately 600 residents were removed from their homes. Further, President Gates explained, the proposed treatment facility would be located in a 100-year floodplain. In the event of a flood or spill, thousands of gallons of untreated hazardous and radioactive material stored on-site would be released directly into the Allegheny River.“Allowing pollutants to be released into the river and transported downstream would create imminent health risks for thousands of residents of Pennsylvania, New York and the Seneca Nation,” he said. President Gates said the Seneca Nation was not consulted on the proposed changes that would allow the treatment of the hazardous wastewater from fracking, as a sovereign government located downstream from the project site. The Nation is calling upon the State of New York, communities between Eulalia Township and the Nation’s Allegany Territory, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the United States Department of the Interior, and the United States Army Corps of Engineers, to stand together to halt the proposed activity.“There is no proven technology that allows for the complete treatment of wastewater from fracking, particularly in the Marcellus shale region,” he said. “Allowing this project to move forward would be a reckless assault on Mother Earth, the resources of the Ohi:yo, the health of thousands downstream and future generations.”Written comments of any length may be provided to Thomas Randis, Environmental Program Manager, at 208 West Third Street, Suite 101, Williamsport, PA 17701, or via email at RA-EPNCEPIPHANY@pa.gov, no later than January 29, 2018.
As knowledge of this facility gains momentum we can expect to see a continued barrage of support from local, national and international environmental advocates! We got lots of honks with thumbs-up and people calling out that they support our public opposition of the proposed frack Waste Water Treatment Facility as we carried signs and stood at the red light to raise public awareness about Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) deadline on Monday to receive written testimony for the hearing they held in Coudersport recently.
At last year's event to make people aware of Coudersport Area Municipal Authority's agreement to help JKLM put a local frack plant here organized by Laurie Barr, we choked on fumes of dozens of tankers passing in minutes but this year there were relatively few tankers. A woman who participated in the demonstration lives a couple blocks from the courthouse and said she sees tanker trucks running mainly from 10 pm to midnight now.
We met people who were unaware that a frack WWTF is being planned for Coudersport. They were happy to know that they hadn't missed the opportunity to submit their testimony to the DEP.
Part 1 https://youtu.be/Z6y71ctyyCg
Part 2 https://youtu.be/MtO0I1BaJgA
Part 3 https://youtu.be/Sbw733WN4K0
Part 4 https://youtu.be/ZB7apN-2FMI
Jan 22, 2018 Meeting. The Coudersport Area Municipal Authority (CAMA) recently leased land to for a location of a frack waste pre-treatment facility after JKLM Energy (founded by Terry Pegula the owner of the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres) proposed using the sewage plant as a location to dispose of their frack waste. CAMA's sewage plant discharges into the headwaters of the Allegheny River in Coudersport, PA.