Citizen suit seeks to enjoin water authority from processing oil and
On July 19, 2011 Clean Water Action and Three Rivers Waterkeeper filed suit
against the Municipal Authority of the City of McKeesport (the “Authority”) in
the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. The Authority
is authorized to discharge treated sewage pursuant to an NPDES Permit (the
“Permit”) issued on April 22, 2008. Following issuance of the Permit, the
Pennsylvania DEP entered an order on October 23, 2008 finding that the effluent
from its wastewater plant had elevated levels of Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)
and limiting the volume of oil and gas wastewater the Authority was permitted to
accept (the “Order”).
The suit was filed pursuant to the Clean Water Act and Pennsylvania’s Clean
Streams Law. It seeks to enjoin the Authority from accepting and treating
wastewater from oil and gas operations. The complaint avers that the Authority
is in violation of the terms of its Permit because it did not disclose that it
receives oil and gas wastewater at the time it applied for the Permit.
Additionally, the complaint avers that the DEP Order cannot serve to alter the
terms of the Permit to allow the processing of oil and gas wastewater because a
change in the wastestream processed pursuant to the Permit requires approval
from the permitting agency and public participation in the permitting process,
including a public notice and comment period, before commencement of the
discharge. The suit requests that the court enter an order enjoining the
Authority from processing oil and gas wastewater and requiring the Authority to
apply for a modified permit before accepting any such water.
Water issues continue to be at the forefront of the energy sector and
represent a trend that will continue to need monitoring.