Archives for posts with tag: wastewater

From Columbus Dispatch:

The long line of tanker trucks waiting to unload at the Devco No. 1 injection well shows that business is good at the underground-disposal site.

When energy companies need to get rid of the millions of barrels of brine — the salty, chemical-laced wastewater that comes out of shale-gas wells — they bring most of it to places like this.

At the Devco well, the brine is injected 8,900 feet below ground, where it is expected to stay forever.

The process has been used for decades in Ohio to dispose of wastewater from fractured and traditional gas and oil wells.

These days, more than half of the brine coming to Ohio injection wells is from the shale-gas fields in Pennsylvania, where drilling has been under way for several years. The disposal industry is expected to grow as Ohio’s shale is exploited.

After rejecting proposals to pass brine through city sewage-treatment plants and dump the wastewater into streams, Ohio officials decided that the state’s 170 injection wells should be the primary disposal method.

“We think they got it right,” said Tom Stewart, vice president of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association. “Put it back where it came from, or deeper.”

It’s a solution that doesn’t sit well with environmental advocates, who say there are too many questions about the chemicals in the wastewater and the amount that will be pumped underground.

Teresa Mills, director of the Buckeye Environmental Network, said she fears that brine will contaminate groundwater, if it doesn’t already.

“First of all, we don’t know all the chemicals that are going down there,” Mills said. “It’s out-of-sight, out-of-mind, and nobody follows it once it’s down.”

More.

From the New York Times:

Radioactivity levels are “at or below” safe levels in Pennsylvania rivers, state regulators said on Monday, based on water samples taken last November and December from seven rivers.

The results come at a time of growing scrutiny of the potential hazards of radioactivity and other contaminants in wastewater from natural-gas drilling. The wastewater is routinely sent to treatment plants in Pennsylvania, which then discharge their waste into rivers.

In a letter sent to the state on Monday, the federal Environmental Protection Agency noted the state’s test results, but instructed officials there to perform testing within 30 days for radioactivity at drinking-water intake plants.

It also said that all permits issued by the state to treatment plants handling this waste should be reviewed to ensure that operators were complying with the law.

The E.P.A. asked the state for data and documents so it could check whether current permits were strict enough in requiring monitoring and in limiting the type of pollution the treatment plants can release into rivers.

“E.P.A. is prepared to exercise its enforcement authorities as appropriate where our investigations reveal violations of federal law,” the letter said.

The E.P.A.’s moves follow reports in The New York Times about gas-industry wastewater with high levels of radioactivity being sent to sewage treatment plants that were not designed to remove radioactive materials. These plants then discharge the processed wastewater into rivers and streams.

The Times found that samples taken by the state in the Monongahela River — a source of drinking water for parts of Pittsburgh — came from a point upstream from the two sewage treatment plants on that river. The state has said those plants are still accepting significant quantities of drilling waste.

Because that sampling site is upstream, the discharges from those two plants are not captured by the state’s monitoring plans.

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