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Posts Tagged ‘Duke University’

Significant Radioactivity, Salts, Metals Detected at Pennsylvania Fracking Site

Posted by feww on October 3, 2013

Fracking Wastewater Irradiated and Contaminated Pennsylvania River

Duke University researchers have detected elevated levels of radioactivity, heavy metals and salts  in the western Pennsylvanian Blacklick Creek that the Josephine Brine Treatment Facility uses to discharge treated wastewater from hydrolic fracking.

“Years of disposal of oil and gas wastewater with high radioactivity has created potential environmental risks for thousands of years to come.”  —Avner Vengosh, professor of geochemistry and water quality at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment.

A glass of water taken from  a residential well after the start of natural gas drilling in Dimock, Pennsylvania
A glass of water taken from a residential well after the start of natural gas drilling in Dimock, Pennsylvania, March 7, 2009. Dimock is one of hundreds of sites in Pennsylvania where energy companies are now racing to tap the massive Marcellus Shale natural gas formation. But some residents say the drilling has clouded their drinking water, sickened people and animals and made their wells flammable. REUTERS/Tim Shaffer. Image may be subject to copyright.

The following is mirrored from The Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University website.

Radioactive Shale Gas Contaminants Found at Wastewater Discharge Site

DURHAM, N.C. [October 02, 2013] — Elevated levels of radioactivity, salts and metals have been found in river water and sediments at a site where treated water from oil and gas operations is discharged into a western Pennsylvania creek.

“Radium levels were about 200 times greater in sediment samples collected where the Josephine Brine Treatment Facility discharges its treated wastewater into Blacklick Creek than in sediment samples collected just upstream of the plant,” said Avner Vengosh, professor of geochemistry and water quality at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment.

The new Duke study examined the quality of shale gas wastewater from hydraulic fracturing and the stream water above and below the disposal site. The study found that some of the discharged effluent is derived from the Marcellus shale gas flowback water, which is naturally high in salinity and radioactivity.

High concentrations of some salts and metals were also observed in the stream water. “The treatment removes a substantial portion of the radioactivity, but it does not remove many of the other salts, including bromide,” Vengosh said. “When the high-bromide effluents are discharged to the stream, it increases the concentrations of bromide above the original background levels. This is significant because bromide increases the risks for formation of highly toxic disinfection byproducts in drinking water treatment facilities that are located downstream.”

“The radioactivity levels we found in sediments near the outflow are above management regulations in the U.S. and would only be accepted at a licensed radioactive disposal facility,” said Robert B. Jackson, professor of environmental science at Duke. “The facility is quite effective in removing metals such as barium from the water but concentrates sulfates, chlorides and bromides. In fact this single facility contributes four-fifths of the total downstream chloride flow at this point.”

The Duke team also analyzed stream-bottom sediments for radium isotopes that are typically found in Marcellus wastewater. “Although the facility’s treatment process significantly reduced radium and barium levels in the wastewater, the amount of radioactivity that has accumulated in the river sediments still exceeds thresholds for safe disposal of radioactive materials,” Vengosh said. “Years of disposal of oil and gas wastewater with high radioactivity has created potential environmental risks for thousands of years to come.”

“While water contamination can be mitigated by treatment to a certain degree, our findings indicate that disposal of wastewater from both conventional and unconventional oil and gas operations has degraded the surface water and sediments,” said Nathaniel R. Warner, a recent Ph.D. graduate of Duke who is now a postdoctoral researcher at Dartmouth College. “This could be a long-term legacy of radioactivity.”

Industry has made efforts to reuse or to transport shale gas wastewater to deep injection wells, but wastewater is still discharged to the environment in some states. “It is clear that this practice of releasing wastewater without adequate treatment should be stopped in order to protect freshwater resources in areas of oil and gas development,” Vengosh said.

The Duke team published their findings Oct. 2 in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science & Technology.

The Josephine Brine Treatment Facility is located in Indiana County, about an hour east of Pittsburgh. Blacklick Creek is a tributary of the Conemaugh River, which flows into the Allegheny River, a water source for numerous western Pennsylvania cities, including Pittsburgh.

Cidney A. Christie, who graduated from Duke’s Nicholas School in 2013 with a Master of Environment Management degree, coauthored the new study, which was funded by the Nicholas School and the Park Foundation.

“Impacts of Shale Gas Wastewater Disposal on Water Quality in Western Pennsylvania”
Nathaniel R. Warner, Cidney A. Christie, Robert B. Jackson, Avner Vengosh
Published Oct. 3 in Environmental Science & Technology – DOI: 10.1021/es402165b

shale_gas1-fire-earth download
Map Of Shale Gas Basins In The United States. Click image to enlarge.

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Fracking Pollutes Drinking Water

Posted by feww on May 10, 2011

Hydraulic-fracturing is poisoning ground water: Report

Methane levels 17 times higher near active fracking cites

Researchers at Duke University have analyzed methane levels in 68 drinking water samples collected across 5 counties in New York and Pennsylvania and found “evidence for methane contamination of drinking water associated with shale-gas extraction.”

The potentially harmful levels of methane gas were found in the samples near drilling sites, where natural gas is extracted from shale formation using a process called  hydraulic-fracturing, or fracking.


Map Of Shale Gas Basins In The United States. Click image to enlarge.

“We found no evidence for contamination of drinking-water samples with deep saline brines or fracturing fluids,” researcher said. “We conclude that greater stewardship, data, and possibly regulation are needed to ensure the sustainable future of shale-gas extraction and to improve public confidence in its use.”

[NOTE: FIRE-EARTH Moderators find the above statement unusual and suspect that Duke University may be receiving funds from one or more of the energy companies, or their lobbyists, involved in fracking.]

“But residents near drilling wells have complained fracking has polluted ground water supplies enough that they can light their drinking water on fire. In addition, accidents at wells have led to fires and floods of fracking fluids have reached streams.” Said a report.

“At least some of the homeowners who claim that their wells were contaminated by shale-gas extraction appear to be right,” said Robert Jackson, lead author of the study.

“It comes as no surprise that natural gas is not as clean as the industry pretends,” said an attorney with Earthjustice environmental group. “The gas industry has made it virtually impossible to do base-line testing because in order to do that, researchers need to know what they’re testing for – not just methane, but the variety of other contaminants being injected into the ground.”

One reason why poisons chemicals used in fracking were not detected/reported in the study samples  might be because it would take “decades from now” for them to appear “as they work their way up from deeper levels,” a report said.

EPA scientists have already revealed that drinking water wells near natural gas [and oil] drilling operations contain chemical contaminants. They found dangerous chemicals in the water from 11 of 39 wells tested near the Wyoming town of Pavillion in March and May 2009.  They admitted that the gas drilling was a potential source.

Researchers say these chemicals may cause cancer, kidney failure, anemia and low fertility problems, and pose serious health risks to people who live close to the drilling sites, a report said.

Currently 32 states are using fracking to release  natural gas from shale formations, according to an Earthjustice.

The report was released by the National Academy of Sciences said on May 9.

Chesapeake Energy

In April, Chesapeake Energy suspended fracking in Pennsylvania after blowout spilled toxic fluid into river.

The Chesapeake well spewed thousands of gallons of toxic fracking fluid into a nearby waterway immediately after the blowout on Wednesday, said the Bradford County emergency management officials.

In March,  Philadelphia officials asked the Delaware River Basin Commission on Thursday to stop prospectors using the hydraulic fracture  shale gas extractions in the City’s watershed, until a full environmental impact assessment is conducted.


A glass of water taken from a residential well after the start of natural gas drilling in Dimock, Pennsylvania, March 7, 2009. Dimock is one of hundreds of sites in Pennsylvania where energy companies are now racing to tap the massive Marcellus Shale natural gas formation. But some residents say the drilling has clouded their drinking water, sickened people and animals and made their wells flammable. Credit: Reuters/Tim Shaffer. Image may be subject to copyright.

Philadelphia City Council

The City Council, in a unanimous resolution, has formally asked the Commission to stop all fracking operations in the watershed and deny a drilling permit to Stone Energy Corp, a Louisiana-based energy company prospecting for natural gas, and all others that propose to use fracking to extract shale gas in the Basin which  supplies drinking water to more than 15 million people, including 2 million plus in the Philadelphia metro area.

Stone Energy

In march 2010,  Stone Energy spokesperson, Tim O’Leary, reportedly said that fracking posed no danger to the drinking water in the region.

Truth and Financial Profits are Mutually Exclusive

FIRE-EARTH has always maintained that the energy companies cannot be telling the truth AND making a profit both at the same time!

‘Diarrhea water’

Fire Earth has earlier noted that

In Dimock, Pennsylvania, drilling for natural gas has clouded the drinking water, sickened people and animals and made their wells flammable.

EPA admits water contaminated near gas-drilling sites

Now, for the first time ever, EPA scientists have revealed that drinking water wells  near natural gas [and oil] drilling operations contain chemical contaminants. They found dangerous chemicals in the water from 11 of 39 wells tested near the Wyoming town of Pavillion in March and May 2009.  Unfortunately, their report  falls shy of concluding what causes the contamination, though it admits the gas drilling is a potential source.

Kudos to Residents of Dimock, Pennsylvania

Residents of Dimock, a small rural Pennsylvania town, have sued Cabot Oil & Gas Corp, claiming the company’s natural-gas drilling has contaminated their wells with deadly chemicals, causing sickness and reducing their property values

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