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06/17/2024 05:21 PM
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
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House of Representatives
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: August 28, 2023 10:17 AM
From: Representative Joe Webster
To: All House members
Subject: Close the Leachate Loophole: Keeping Radium Out of Our Drinking Water

Pennsylvanians have a constitutional right to a clean environment. To address oversights in the Solid Waste Management Act and protect our constitutional right, I will be introducing legislation that would require anyone that stores, processes, or disposes of residual waste to test leachate prior to discharge. There are 16 wastewater treatment facilities in Pennsylvania that presently process leachate from landfills that accept waste from oil and gas operations, thereby transmitting hazardous and radioactive elements into local water supplies. By closing the “leachate loophole,” we can aim to prevent this process from occurring.
The “leachate loophole” allows oil and gas companies to skip hazardous waste testing, as well as tracking and disposal rules, even though their waste contains a wide variety of hazardous components. This waste is insufficiently treated as “residual waste” under our state’s Solid Waste Management Act, thus excluding oil and gas companies from the requirement to thoroughly test or treat waste prior to disposal in landfills or wastewater treatment facilities.
This loophole means that soluble elements that may contain hazardous and radioactive properties derived from oil and gas waste are able to spread unchecked as a result of the seepage of leachate. When rain falls on a landfill, water passes through the collected waste, dissolving soluble materials along the way and becoming what is called leachate, which may contain chemical additives, hydrocarbons, heavy metals, and salts that can be toxic to humans and the environment.  When leachate collection chambers reach capacity, the toxic water is then sent to wastewater treatment facilities for treatment prior to the wastewater being discharged into local bodies of water.  However, wastewater treatment facilities are not equipped to process hazardous and radioactive elements.
Please join me in co-sponsoring this important legislation to close the Leachate Loophole and ensure our public safety.

Introduced as HB1732