March – April 2019, Volume 47, Number 2
Aethon Energy, the company that operates the Moneta Divide oil and gas field, is seeking an expanded discharge permit from the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to dramatically increase their oil and gas wastewater discharge into the streams that flow into Boysen Reservoir. The volume of water Aethon proposes to discharge would be doubled from about 104,000 barrels a day to nearly 200,000 barrels a day. Aethon has been treating about 39,000 barrels a day before discharge, but that is currently the limit they say they can treat, and the majority of the proposed polluted wastewater would be discharged untreated.
The high volume of oil and gas produced water from Aethon’s Moneta Divide field contains large amounts of sodium, sulfates, and chlorides. There are also a number of other chemicals that are likely to show up in the produced water, including fracking chemicals from flowback water, which often includes benzene and other hazardous substances. The proposed permit would allow the polluted discharge water to be dumped into Alkali Creek, flow into Badwater Creek, then into Boysen Reservoir. From there it could travel downstream into the Wind and Bighorn Rivers.
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