Tag Archives: fracking

MIT Finds Way to Reuse Water from Fracking

fracking oil

Fracking, or the process of extracting oil from underground reservoirs, takes a lot of time, money, and water. But humans are extremely dependent on this technique because it brings out a natural resource that fuels transportation methods that we use in our everyday lives. Cars, buses, trains, and planes are just a few of the ways we get around that use oil as fuel. So how can a process that is so important still be so inefficient? Fracking wastes millions of gallons of water per year, water that could be reused for other purposes.

So why isn’t it being reused? Because when water is pressurized down into the ground to extract oil, it becomes contaminated and deemed “brimy”. This type of water is discarded into deep injection wells and new, clean water is bought to continue the fracking process.

Oil Rig

Luckily a company that works with MIT has come up with a genius process to reuse some of these million gallons that are wasted every year. This company, called Gradient Corporation, has created a cost-effective process to treat brimy oilfield water for reuse. Depending on the location and type of fracking, carrier gas extraction (CGE) or selective chemical extraction (SCE) is used to clean the brimy water. Carrier gas extraction heats produced water into vapor and condenses it back into water without contaminants. In selective chemical extraction, chemical reactions remove specific contaminants. Both processes are effective, easy to use, and will save millions of dollars annually for fracking companies.

Reusing water is important, especially at a time when the West Coast is in a severe drought. It is important that every person does their part in helping to save water and save our environment. There are so many ways that you can save water, but one important way that also improves your health is to buy a water filtration system for your home that reuses backwash water. Think of it as your own system, like fracking, that can normally waste backwash water. Filtercon Technologies has developed a system that does just the opposite; reuses that water for other purposes while still purifying the water that goes into your home. Want to know more? Visit http://www.filtercon.com or call us at 800-550-1995.

Source:

Toward Cheaper Water Treatment. MIT News. July 15, 2015. http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/cheaper-fracking-water-treatment-0716

Images:

1) wkms.org

2) huffingtonpost.com

People near ‘fracking’ wells report health woes

1410297314000-AP_Fracking_With_GasPhoto Credit: Keith Srakocic, AP

Written by : Wendy Koch, USA TODAY

People living near natural-gas wells were more than twice as likely to report upper-respiratory and skin problems than those farther away, says a major study Wednesday on the potential health effects of fracking.

Nearly two of every five, or 39%, of those living less than a kilometer (or two-thirds of a mile) from a well reported upper respiratory symptoms, compared to 18% living more than 2 kilometers away, according to a Yale University-led random survey of 492 people in 180 households with ground-fed water wells in southwestern Pennsylvania.

The disparity was even greater for skin irritation. While 13% of those within a kilometer of a well said they had rashes and other skin symptoms, only 3% of those beyond 2 kilometers said the same.

“This is the largest study to look at the overall health of people living near the wells,” says lead author and University of Washington environmental health professor Peter Rabinowitz, who did the research while at Yale. The study focused on Washington County, part of the Marcellus Shale where hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is widely used to extract natural gas.

“It suggests there may be more health problems in people living closer to natural gas wells,” but it doesn’t prove that the wells caused their symptoms, he says, adding more research is needed.

Fracking, combined with horizontal drilling, has spurred a U.S. boom in oil and natural-gas production. It blasts huge amounts of water — mixed with sand and chemicals — deep underground to break apart shale deposits and extract gas and oil from the rock’s pores.

Prior peer-reviewed studies have linked fracking to possible birth defects, higher lung disease risks, methane contamination in drinking water and elevated endocrine-disrupting chemical activity in groundwater. Some environmental groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, oppose fracking, saying it has insufficient safeguards.

Yet the oil and gas industry defends fracking as a safe way to bolster the U.S. economy and lessen the nation’s dependence on foreign sources of energy.

“There are zero confirmed cases of groundwater contamination connected to the fracturing operation in 1 million wells hydraulically fractured over the past 60 years,” says a July report by the American Petroleum Institute. It says “numerous protective measures are in place at well sites” and “federal statues regulate every step” of the process.

“We don’t really know the cause” of the higher self-reported health symptoms, says Yale research scientist Meredith Stowe, co-author of the paper, which was published in Environmental Health Perspectives.

“There’s a number of possible air contaminants,” Rabinowitz says, noting the flaring of gas wells and the diesel exhaust from heavy equipment at fracking sites. Also, the study notes that well water could become contaminated if there are breaks in the gas well casing or other leaks from fracking activities.

“Stress could also be a cause of skin rashes,” he says. He found the disparities in skin and respiratory symptoms persisted even after adjusting for participants’ gender, age, educational level, smoking and awareness of environmental risk factors.

The study did not find a significant increase in neurological, cardiovascular or gastrointestinal symptoms among those living closer to natural gas wells.

At the time the research was conducted in the summer of 2012, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection said there were were 624 active natural-gas wells in the survey area, 95% of which used fracking. The study received funding from private foundations, including The Heinz Endowments.

Link: http://usat.ly/1oqIBdB

High rates of heavy metals in Texas groundwater near natural gas sites

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 10.13.53 PMCREDIT: AP Photo/Eric Gay

Researchers at the University of Texas are claiming to have found an unfortunate consequence of the gas fields in Texas. Nearly 30 percent of water wells out of 100 that reside above natural gas reserves contain unusually high levels of heavy metals, most notably, arsenic.

ThinkProgress reports that 29 groundwater sites within 1.8 miles of active natural gas drilling had unusually high levels of heavy metals. At this point, a link between the recent water contamination findings and hydraulic fracturing techniques cannot be proven. However, the team of 11 biochemists say their findings provide further evidence that could connect the two.

 I can’t say we have a smoking gun. We don’t want the public to take away from this that we have pegged fracking as the cause of these issues,” Brian Fontenot, the paper’s lead author, told ProPublica. “But we have shown that these issues do occur in close relation, geographically, to natural gas extraction.”

The researchers have a hunch that the fracking process indirectly introduced the heavy metals with increased vibration underground, shaking rusty pipes in the nearby water wells. That rust could contain arsenic they have observed.

The research was recently published in the academic journal Environmental Science and Technology.

Read the full story from Think Progress contributor Emily Atkin, “Scientists Find ‘Alarming’ Amount of Arsenic in Groundwater near Texas Fracking Sites”.

Filtercon Whole House Filtration and Conditioning System with a Fluoride Filter

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Water Fracking Can Harm Water Wells

frack.water_-638x420Photo Credit: Shutterstock

PITTSBURGH — Six years into a natural gas boom, Pennsylvania has for the first time released details of 243 cases in which companies prospecting for oil or gas were found by state regulators to have contaminated private drinking water wells.

The Department of Environmental Protection on Thursday posted online links to the documents after the agency conducted a “thorough review” of paper files stored among its regional offices. The Associated Press and other news outlets have filed lawsuits and numerous open-records requests over the last several years seeking records of the DEP’s investigations into gas-drilling complaints.

Pennsylvania’s auditor general said in a report last month that DEP’s system for handling complaints “was woefully inadequate” and that investigators could not even determine whether all complaints were actually entered into a reporting system.

DEP didn’t immediately issue a statement with the online release, but posted the links on the same day that seven environmental groups sent a letter urging the agency to heed the auditor general’s 29 recommendations for improvement.

“I guess this is a step in the right direction,” Thomas Au of the Pennsylvania Sierra Club chapter said of the public release of documents on drinking well problems. “But this is something that should have been made public a long time ago.”

The 243 cases, from 2008 to 2014, include some where a single drilling operation impacted multiple water wells. The problems listed in the documents include methane gas contamination, spills of wastewater and other pollutants, and wells that went dry or were otherwise undrinkable. Some of the problems were temporary, but the names of landowners were redacted, so it wasn’t clear if the problems were resolved to their satisfaction. Other complaints are still being investigated.

The gas-rich Marcellus Shale lies under large parts of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York and Ohio. A drilling boom that took off in 2008 has made the Marcellus the most productive natural gas field in the nation, and more than 6,000 shale gas wells have been drilled. That has led to billions of dollars in revenue for companies and landowners, but also to complaints from homeowners about ruined water supplies.

Extracting fuel from shale formations requires pumping millions of gallons of water, along with sand and chemicals, into the ground to break apart rock and free the gas. Some of that water, along with other heavy metals and contaminants, returns to the surface.

The documents released Thursday listed drilling-related water well problems in 22 counties, with most of the cases in Susquehanna, Tioga, Lycoming, and Bradford counties in the northeast portion of the state.

Some energy companies have dismissed or downplayed the issue of water well contamination, suggesting that it rarely or never happens.

The Marcellus Shale Coalition, the main industry group, suggested that geology and Pennsylvania’s lack of standards for water well construction were partly to blame.

Coalition president Dave Spigelmyer said in statement Thursday that Pennsylvania “has longstanding water well-related challenges, a function of our region’s unique geology — where stray methane gas is frequently present in and around shallow aquifers.” He said many of the problems were related to surface spills, not drilling.

“Our industry works closely and tirelessly with regulators and others to ensure that we protect our environment, striving for zero incidents,” Spigelmyer said.

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Online: http://bit.ly/1lyMfGG

by Rubinkam of the Associate Press