PROBLEMS WITH FRACK WASTE WATER by Richard Ashton

August 9, 2011

                   New Environment Bulletin Number 387

Syracuse, N.Y (June 27, 2011)

It is possible that either The Wyoming Valley Sanitation Authority (WVSA) or The Lower Lackawanna Sanitation Authority (LLSA) will  build a treatment plant for hydraulic fracturing (frack) waste water, adding to their existing facility. WVSA is  adjoining Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, a block away from the Carey Avenue Bridge, and LLSA is in Duryea, both on the Susquehanna River. Either one or both of these plants could  treat a large proportion  of the  frack water from Northeastern Pennsylvania and South Eastern New York.

WVSA has looked into this possibility carefully and has dropped plans for now mainly because of the truck traffic it would cause in residential neighborhoods. If either of these plants treat frack water in the future, it may be transported to these plants on 5000 gallon tanker trucks at the rate of one truck every five minutes, maybe day and night. Indeed a million gallons of frack water a day could be coming to Wyoming Valley. And what is in this water? This is how Dr.  Thomas Jiunta1 describes the chemicals added to the water:

“over 300 of them in an average fracking solution, have been revealed by scientists, to be at least 75 percent hazardous to our health, including many cancer-causing substances. Not only are the additives carcinogenic and proven endocrine disrupters, but unfortunately the fracturing process causes normally underground toxic organic and inorganic substances and heavy metals to come to the surface. These include volatile organic solvents naturally found underground such as the methane extracted and also compounds, such as benzene, toluene and propane. They also include heavy metals which are trapped in the shale and are then soluble in the mixture that comes back up including: Lead, arsenic, mercury, barium, chromium and strontium. In addition, brine is extracted which ranges from sea water type salinity to six times this salinity. Radioactive elements which are normally found under ground, are brought up.”

With all of those trucks passing through towns in the valley for decades into the future, there are bound to be leaks, spills and catastrophic crashes. In addition we need to guard against air pollution from the water being processed at the our local sanitation authorities.  Laura Legere, Staff Writer for the Citizen’s Voice2 reported:  “a centralized impoundment that holds the waste water from 10 wells could theoretically release 32.5 tons of methanol into the air each year – meaning it could qualify as a “major” source of toxic air pollutants under federal rules.” We can expect that waste water from many more than ten wells will be held at the treatment facility, and so we are threatened by toxic air pollution in the Wyoming Valley.

The function of the treatment plant at our sanitation authorities would be to separate chemicals from the frack water, and then ship it back to be reused in the drilling operations. The sediment from this process will contain these hazardous chemicals. According to published reports the plan is to deposit the sediment in state approved land fills. These chemicals such as elements arsenic, cadmium and radium last for thousands of years, while a typical land fill holds waste for only twenty years, after which it leaks into the environment.  Thus the land fill solution to waste storage may be only temporary, and future generations will be saddled with our waste again. To illustrate this issue consider radium.

Marvin Resnikoff, Ph.D.3 studied the radioactivity on rock pieces in the flow back from drilling operations and concluded the following:
* Radioactivity in Marcellus is 20 times higher than background.
* Radium-226 is soluble in water and is in waste water
* Drilling fluid is reused many times and some Radium-226 can accumulate each time.
* Ra-226 is a carcinogen so causes cancer.
* This could cause landfill workers to be exposed.
* 1600 years is the half-life of Ra-226,

Since the radioactivity of individual trucks may be below the ability of landfill radiation  detectors to measure, large amounts of radio activity in the waste may not be detected until they build up over time in the landfill.

Resnikoff further concludes:

Workers at a landfill where drill cuttings are dumped can be expected to exceed the health-base dose limits set by the Environmental Protection Agency and the NRC.

Based on calculations radiation exposures received by a future resident farmer of the land at the landfill will exceed allowable regulatory limits.

Radioactive scale cuttings and fluids are more appropriately deposited in a radioactive land fill  designated for this disposal.

Thus we can conclude that the typical land fill with a 20 year lifetime may be inadequate to protect the environment from these hazardous and radioactive chemicals. Resnikoff recommends use of a nuclear waste land fill which is designed to hold for 1000 years. (Is that enough time, given a 1600 year half-life of the radium?)   Also the constantly reused frack water can be expected to become increasingly radioactive. Indeed radioactivity in the truck parts, in particular in rust builds up over time, so that the drivers may become increasingly threatened with excess radiation exposure and may need to be considered nuclear hazardous material workers and regulated as such.

In conclusion, if we get to the point of having a million gallons per day of  Marcellus Shale drilling waste water processed in the valley, we will need to take many precautions to avoid its health and environmental threats.

References:
(1) “Letter to the Editor”,  Thomas Jiunta  Wilkes-Barre, PA: Citizens Voice (May 13, 2010)
(2) “Wastewater: A risky business”   Laura Legere (Staff Writer) Wilkes-Barre: Citizen’s Voice,  June 22, 2010.
(3) “Radioactivity in Marcellus Shale,” Marvin Resnikoff, Ph.D., 526 W. 26th Street #517, New York, NY 10001 : Radioactive Waste Management Associates, (May 19, 2010).
See also:  “Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement On The Oil, Gas, and Solution Mining Regulatory Program” NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Division of Mineral Resources, Bureau of Oil & Gas Regulation 652 Broadway, 3rd Floor, Albany, NY 9 (September, 2009).

Richard Aston
Registered Engineer
astonrj@yahoo.com
Wilkes-Barre, PA
June 1, 2011


Reasons against Fracking Gas Drilling – Can You Add to this List?

July 20, 2011

There will be tens of thousands of gas wells drilled and fracked over the next two decades using slick water horizontal hydrofracking

This Massive-Scale Gas Drilling Will Bring You:

Lower Property Values
Higher Taxes
Polluted and Unusable Water
The loss of rivers  of water to the earth deep below.
Toxic Waste (heavy metals, carcinogens, brine and radioactive materials) (10 to 30 tons of chemicals per well)
Open Waste Pits
Undisclosed Chemicals
Endocrine Disruption
Carcinogens Left Underground
Spills
Industrial Zones
Air Pollution
Earth Pollution
Water Pollution
Asthma
Depleted Water Habitat
Noise Pollution
Eminent Domain
Forced Pooling
Loss of Farmland
Loss of Tourism
Disrupted Wildlife Habitat
Higher Crime Rate
Choking Truck Traffic
Truck accidents
Workers Dying
Citizens Dying
Broken Roads
Increased Accidents
Lower Quality of Life (why do you love this place?)
Deforestation
Loss of habitat
Earthquakes
Fractured Bedrock
Dubious Farm Products
Bubbling Rivers
Animal Kills
Increased Health Costs
Increased Infrastructure Costs

Educate yourself and take action!

Don’t be fooled by the propaganda you see on television and billboards.

All this is happening within the context of:

Machine-like Corporate values (IE the maximization of profit)
Political values (IE re-election is the god)
Mismanagement and disregard for the community (see Accidents and Violations Section here and elsewhere).

Then mix in weakened laws,  a depleted DEP, and rapid expansion.

Isn’t this a case for MORATORIUM!?


Klaber’s Greeting Put to Good Use

December 20, 2010

Received a holiday e-greeting from the Marcellus Shale Coalition today.  I decided to put it to good use:


Organized Crime

November 16, 2010

it is time for the state to act to protect the health and the rights of the citizens of Pennsylvania rather than looking out for big business and their bottom lines.

Doug Shields who represents the 5th Council District in the City of Pittsburgh

image: Adbusters


The Kidnapping of a River and the Truth

November 16, 2010

The kidnapping of a river, wherein it is murdered and buried – gallon by gallon:

In Don William’s most recent blog post, 600,000 natural gas wells!, his sources report the industry is expecting to drill from 200,000 to 600,000 wells in Pennsylvania.

In my recent post, Fracked Dry, I reported that the 200,000 figure was one which was put forth by Penn State as the “high end”. As I related at the time, I thought their figures low. While 200,000 is a devastating amount, 600,000 is homicidal.

It represents 1.5 TRILLION gallons of water profoudly polluted and permanently removed from our water cycle.

Only a small percentage of the water shot down during the fracking process comes back up. The rest is left below – abandoned in the form of a radioactified toxified super salty slurry.

1.5 Trillion gallons is equivalent to 204 Harvey’s Lakes or 1,341 Huntsville Reservoirs left beneath the earth’s surface.

1.5 Trillion gallons represents 57 days worth of water flow throughout the entire Susquehanna watershed.

Can we afford to loose 16% of our water cycle?

Also, 600,000 wells means 360 billion pounds of chemicals shot into the innocent earth. That’s 7.5 million tractor trailer loads of chemicals. That’s a convoy which would wrap around the earth over four times!

And what amount of air pollution will this pervasive drilling bring to our children’s and mother’s lungs?

Again, this is homicide, suicide, filicide, matricide, populicide, and ecocide.

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The Kidnapping of truth:

And how about that CBS corporation. Their 60 Minutes episode on fracking, titled Shaleionaires, was laughable. “Cleaner” gas was assumed, wealth was assumed, water was forgotten. In the conclusion there was hope of a bright solution and prosperous future, if we just eliminate those pesky human errors, reign in cost cutting, and don’t drink the frack fluid.

I thought it was counterproductive.

The blog, Fracked, has much to say about the 60 Minutes piece. See Sixty Fracking Lame Minutes and Shale Gas Drilling: Pros and Cons.

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Here is a poignant comment on Shaleionaires from the CBS website:

I was relieved to see SOMETHING about the gas drilling on 60 Minutes, but the piece does not begin to cover the issues and the fear and anger we experience living in the midst of the new “gold rush.” I live in southwestern PA near Waynesburg, PA and there is a well being drilled on nearly every hill top, dividing communities, pitting neighbor against neighbor and providing very little comfort/peace/environmental protection. A public forum was held in Pittsburgh recently and the representative from the DEP was very rude to the angry citizens who only want their questions answered. We were told we now live in a heavy industry area and no longer in the agriculture area. I already have had breast cancer from living in a heavy industry polluted town in WV and now face this invasion, because that is what it feels like, an invasion. As the farmers gather their thousands and reportedly millions, sell their cattle and either move or ride around in their caddys the rest of us try to come up with Plan B, sell now? wait? See what happens? Endure the filth, the smell, the noise and wait for more cancer?
Why can’t we commit to solar and wind power with such fervor????????

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Covert Fracking Cheerleaders: WVIA, the Kirby Theatre, WILK, Time Leader, Citizen’s Voice, CBS,… and many more. Some are transparent, others avoidant, others play both sides. It all has to do with donors and advertisers. Income is the game.


Good job GDAC, Good job Tom

October 19, 2010

Tom Jiunta at Lehman Meeting (Times Leader)

Tom Jiunta and the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition have been working tirelessly to advance a petition in support of an ordinance which would protect the water supply of Lehman Township. Tonight they presented the ordinance which is similar to one recently passed by the the Licking Township (Pennsylvania) Board of Supervisors. The Lehman ordinance was  drafted by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund Defense Fund.

The proposal presented to the Lehman Township Board of Supervisors, would make it unlawful:

“for any corporation to import water into Lehman for use in the extraction of subsurface natural gas or to deposit waste water, “produced” water, “frack” water, brine or other materials, chemicals or by-products of natural gas extraction into the land, air or waters within Lehman Township.”

per the CELDF website.

Here is the early online edition from the Times Leader: Lehman supers hold off vote on anti-drill law

This initiative is about citizen’s rights and the heart of a democratic society.  We share the air and the water.  Collectively, we have a constitutional right to clean air and water.   Any sane society would insure that.   No individual, or corporation has the authority to usurp these basic human rights.

Although advised otherwise, the Supervisors insisted on keeping the venue at the Lehman Township Building instead of larger venues in the immediate area.  Consequently some citizens left because they could hear nothing from the entrance hall.  That is, they were not allowed to participate in the process due to venue constriction.  It is an age old strategy of those who want to impede the democratic process rather than support it.  The Supervisors’ obstructionist behavior is not a surprise given the reality that two of them were found to be ethically compromised by  the state ethics commission.

(And thank you to the Community Environmental Legal Defense  Defense Fund for your statewide efforts to bring power back to the people.)

The supervisors refused to take action on the proposal, citing a fear of law suits and a lack of authority,the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition and the CELDF will continue to put this issue forward. See the Citizen’s Voice coverage here: Lehman Twp. supervisors take no action on drilling ordinance


“natural” gas is NOT “clean energy”

October 15, 2010

From the Safe Water Movement’s petition to support a total ban on gas drilling in low-permeable deposits in New York State:

1. With a failure rate of between 2 to 8 percent, horizontal drilling and hydrofracking pose an unacceptable risk to our drinking water and the quality of groundwater, aquifers, lakes and streams.

13.Recent preliminary assessments reveal that “natural” gas is not “clean energy” but rather just another polluting, non-renewable fossil fuel contributing to global warming”

Links about dirty gas:

The Dirty Truth Behind Clean Natural Gas (from the National Wildlife Federation)

Gas is dirty energy and may be dirtier than coal ( regarding Australia)

The Dirty Truth Behind Hydrofracking (from Environmental Graffiti )

The Dirty Truth Behind The New Natural Gas ( from Kentucky Rural Water Association) ( a comprehensive overview )

The Dirty Secret of Shale Gas (from Motley Fool)

Public Health Impacts of Oil & Gas ( from No Dirty Energy )
(Take the PLEDGE)

Cornell’s Howarth Warns EPA… (good links )