Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Waste Mapping Tool (2015 – 2021): Glossary and Sources

General Information

The updated Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Waste Mapping Tool (2015 –  2021) was created by PSE Healthy Energy with support from the Climate and Clean Energy Equity Fund. The project’s goal is to examine liquid and solid waste from oil and gas development in Pennsylvania by county and by PA State House and Senate Districts in recent years (2015 – 2021).

This page provides definitions and descriptions of the data used in the updated Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Waste Mapping Tool (2015 – 2021)as well as specific information about the data sources used.

Methods for data aggregation are derived from Hill et al., 2019. The underlying data set used for these interactive data visualizations is updated overtime, and therefore waste quantities for years overlapping with Hill et al. 2019 (2015 – 2017) may vary as waste records have changed over time.

Furthermore, interactive data visualizations regarding oil and gas waste management primarily focus on solid waste sent to landfills and do not include how wastewater is managed. This is largely due to data availability from 2015-2021, as records reporting solid waste from oil and gas development were twice as likely to have spatial information included as compared to records reporting wastewater volumes. Nearly all (>99%) of waste records with drill cutting quantities reported include latitude and longitude allowing waste to be tracked to its next destination, whereas only 45% of waste records with produced fluid volumes had available spatial information. These differences in the availability of spatial information regarding waste management between liquid and solid waste are also noted in Hill et al., 2019 for the years of data examined.

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Definitions and Descriptions of Data

general terms

  • Conventional well: A conventional gas well, also known as a traditional well, is a well that produces oil or gas from a conventional formation. Conventional formations are variable in age, occurring both above and below the Elk Sandstone. While a limited number of such gas wells are capable of producing sufficient quantities of gas without stimulation by hydraulic fracturing, most conventional wells require this stimulation technique due to the reservoir characteristics in Pennsylvania. Stimulation of conventional wells, however, generally does not require the volume of fluids typically required for unconventional wells (PADEP, 2012).
  • Unconventional well: A well that is drilled into an unconventional formation, which is defined as a geologic shale formation below the base of the Elk Sandstone or its geologic equivalent where natural gas generally cannot be produced except by horizontal or vertical well bores stimulated by hydraulic fracturing” (PADEP, 2012).


  • produced fluids: flow-back, brine and any other formation fluids recovered from the wellbore. Flow-back is defined as fracturing/stimulation fluids, including fracturing sand, recovered from the wellbore after injection into the wellbore (PADEP RWC 802).
  • drill cuttings: oil and gas drill cuttings (PADEP RWC 810)


  • barrel: Unit of volume for wastewater.  One barrel equals 42 US gallons, or approximately 159 liters.
  • ton: Unit of weight for solid waste.  One ton equals 2,000 pounds.

Waste handling methods

  • Landfill: (i) Municipal waste landfill – A facility using land for disposing of municipal waste. The facility includes land affected during the lifetime of operations including, but not limited to, areas where disposal or processing activities actually occur, support facilities, borrow areas, offices, equipment sheds, air and water pollution control and treatment systems, access roads, associated onsite and contiguous collection, transportation and storage facilities, closure and postclosure care and maintenance activities and other activities in which the natural land surface has been disturbed as a result of or incidental to operation of the facility. The term does not include a construction/demolition waste landfill or a facility for the land application of sewage sludge. (ii) Residual waste landfill – A facility for disposing of residual waste. The term does not include a residual waste disposal impoundment or a facility for the land application of residual waste. The term also does not include a facility at which municipal waste, other than industrial lunchroom or office waste generated by the operator, construction/demolition waste generated by the operator, or certain special handling waste is disposed (025 Pa. Code § 287.1.).

Data Sources

Data: Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Production / Waste Reports.
Source: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP). 2021.
Available at:
Most recent download: June 23, 2022
Data years: 2015 – 2021

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