Allan Shipman was found guilty of illegally dumping millions of gallons of natural gas drilling wastewater. But he's part of a much bigger problem.
Dumping Onto the Streets at Night
On March 17, 2011 Greene County resident Robert Allan Shipman and his company, Allan’s Waste Water Service Inc., were charged with illegally dumping millions of gallons of natural gas drilling wastewater, along with restaurant grease and sewer sludge across six counties in Pennsylvania from 2003-2009. Pennsylvania is one of several states that sit atop the gas-rich underground rock formation the Marcellus Shale. Hydraulic fracturing, the process used for retrieving the gas, is a water-intensive drilling method that not only requires massive volumes of water to unlock the gas, but also generates millions of gallons of wastewater when the drilling is done.
The two-year investigation by the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office resulted in a total of 98 criminal counts charged against the 50-year-old Shipman and an additional 77 charges levied at his company. Said Nils Frederiksen, spokesman for the attorney general’s office, “He was pouring the stuff in any hole he could find.”
Most egregiously, the grand jury presentment detailed how when the demand for Allan’s Waste Water services grew in the summer of 2007, as a result of an uptick in production water (wastewater produced by gas well drilling operations that may contain toxic chemicals) from CNX Gas Co. LLP, a subsidiary of Consol Energy, a company Shipman was hauling for, “Shipman showed the drivers how to leave open the gas well valves and ordered them to discharge production water onto the ground and/or into the nearby waterways.” Drivers’ testimony added, “This activity would typically occur after dark or during heavy rain so that no one would observe the illegal discharge.”
According to the presentment, the investigation of Shipman began after a client of his grew suspicious of illegal dumping after an in-house audit “revealed a large discrepancy in the amount of sludge received by Allan’s Waste Water and the amount of sludge disposed” by the company at treatment facilities. A review of reports by the Department of Environmental Protection confirmed that over 170,000 gallons of sludge were unaccounted for from June 2006 to the summer of 2007.