STANDING STONE TOWNSHIP - Eureka Resources LLC's planned waste water treatment plant in Standing Stone Township for the gas industry will not cause problems for the environment, company officials said a recent informational meeting for the public.

At the meeting, Eureka officials said the public has expressed a lot of interest in the company's application for a state permit to discharge treated water from the plant.

At this point, Eureka is planning to discharge up to 200,000 gallons of water a day into the Susquehanna River, said Dan Ertel, CEO of Eureka Resources.

The discharged water will be clean enough to meet the standards for drinking water, said Kent McManus, Eureka's vice-president for engineering.

The discharged water will need to meet recently enacted state regulations on the natural gas industry, according to Eureka.

"Essentially we're making drinking water" at the plant, Ertel said at the hearing, which was held in the Standing Stone Township's municipal building.

When asked by a member of the public about the about discharges into air, McManus said: "There are really no substantial air discharges with this (plant)."

Site work for the construction of the plant, which will be located on U.S. Route 6, 400 feet east of Fisher Road, began in early March, Ertel said.

Eureka will treat waste water from the natural gas industry so that it could be reused by the gas industry in operations such as hydraulic fracturing, Ertel said.

The types of water the plant will treat include flowback water from hydraulic fracturing of gas wells and water that comes out of the well bore later on, when gas is being produced commercially, Ertel said.

The plant is designed to treat approximately 420,000 gallons a day of waste water, according to written information provided by Eureka.

The only time that water would be discharged from the plant is when the plant could not find a gas company to re-use the treated water, Ertel said.

The plant is being constructed in two phases.

The first phase, which will include a pre-treatment system and a crystallizer unit, is expected to become operational in October 2013, Ertel said.

The pre-treatment system would produce a solid waste that would be disposed of in a landfill as well as water that would be recycled to gas well sites.

One of the products of the crystallizer will be distilled water.

The second phase would involve the installation of additional equipment at the plant that would further treat the distilled water so that it would be clean enough to discharge into a stream or a river, according to Ertel.

In February, Eureka applied for a permit from the state Department of Environmental Protection that would allow Eureka to discharge the treated water produced by the Phase 2 equipment, Ertel said.

If the DEP permit, as well as other permits, are granted, the construction of the second phase would go forward in 2014, Ertel said.

Eureka had originally been planning to discharge treated water from the plant into King Creek, a tributary to the Susquehanna River that flows through the property where the plant is being constructed.

However, after being told by residents at the informational session that the creek dries up at times, Ertel said Eureka will instead go forward with another option it had been considering, which is to pipe treated water to the river, where it will be discharged.

Discharging treated water to a dried-up creek bed "is not a good practice. I don't think the DEP will let us do that if the creek dries up," Ertel said.

Eureka has operated a plant in Williamsport since 2008 that also treats flowback water from hydraulic fracturing, he said.

In written information provided by Eureka, the company answered a series of frequently asked questions about the planned plant in Standing Stone Township, including a question about whether radioactivity would be a concern at the plant.

"Radiation is not expected to be a concern at the Standing Stone facility," Eureka stated. "Eureka has been operating similar treatment processes at our existing Williamsport facility since 2008. Eureka routinely monitors radiation levels throughout the existing Williamsport facility in accordance with a plan required by the Pennsylvania DEP with no issues."

The DEP will also require Eureka to install radiation detection equipment at its Standing Stone plant, Ertel has said.

The equipment will detect naturally occurring radioactivity in the waste water that will be treated.

All of the treatment operations at the Eureka plant would occur in an enclosed building, measuring 200 feet by 200 feet, Ertel has said.

The off-loading of waste water from trucks would occur indoors, inside the same building where the treatment operations will occur, he said.

The building, which will have a concrete floor, will be recessed into the ground, with concrete curbing around the building, "so nothing gets out" if a spill were to occur, McManus said.

James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: jloewenstein@thedailyreview.com.