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!?


November 11, 2010

water is holy to life

photo: anonymous
Ceasetown Reservoir


FRACKED DRY

November 10, 2010

Over the next thirty years, given the present technology, 500 billion gallons of water will be retired underground in Pennsylvania through the process known as horizontal fracturing.  This is according to email discussions I have had with Penn State’s Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research

500B is equivalent to 68 Harvey’s Lakes, or 263 Huntsville reservoirs, or 200 Wallenpaupacks (a relatively shallower but more expansive body of water).

This water will no longer be available for human use.  It will lurk in the shattered caverns below.   This dispersed sea will be waiting for a flaw, a break, an errant burst of pressure…

In a recent email from the Marcellus Shale Coalition titled, In the Know on H20, the industry relates:

Well, consider this: All told, the Susquehanna and its surrounding watershed convey more than 26 billion gallons of water through the Commonwealth every single day.

500B is over nineteen times this amount.   Nineteen days of water flow gone forever, Nineteen days of flow, desecrated, banished, and waiting… Can we afford it?

——————————————————————————————————-
The industry will tell you they are going to develop “better” technology. I question they can do it without water. I will research this more.

I will post the calculations and assumptions and caveats under separate cover.

The 500B could go lower, it could go higher.  But I suspect 5ooB is on the low side.

The 500B is Pennsylvania only! What about the amount of water being retired throughout the United States, Canada, South America, Australia, Africa, Asia, and Europe?  How many tens of trillions?

Add to this, the global warming trend – and it will be unintentional suicide by corporate paradigm.

Photo:Times Leader


“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 )


Faces of Dimock – October 15

October 12, 2010

There will be a public meeting,  “Faces of Dimock “, held at the Kingston Township Municipal Building, 180 E. Center Street, Shavertown. It starts at 7pm on Friday, October 15th. The guest speaker will be Craig Sautner, who has been seen at many events with his gallon jug of “Dimock Lemonade”, drawn from his contaminated well. He will talk about the events of the last two years, and their effects on his family. Those who attend will see and hear what it is like to live next to a “frack farm”, from a video interview taken at Ron and Jean Carter’s home. Parking is available at the rear of the building, and across the street at the athletic field.


How Natural Gas Drilling has Changed My Eating Habits by Molly M.

September 1, 2010

Following is a guest post from Molly M.  All are invited to submit:

I travelled to Dimock, PA, several weeks ago to see for myself what was going on at my neighbors to the north.  I was astounded to see gas drilling pads in many farm pastures.  On several sites, cows were being pastured and fed adjacent to the pads. I had read about cows being quarantined in Tioga County after they were suspected of drinking polluted flowback water.  In Washington County cows died after exposure to drilling fluids.  At Dunkard Creek, where all aquatic life died from an algae bloom caused by drilling, beef cows were photographed standing in orange-tainted water.  I have decided not to eat beef any more.  Every time I look at a steak, I see those cows standing next to a drill site.

My new discoveries opened my eyes to other concerns.  How about the farmers who were present at the farmers’ markets? Had they leased their lands?  If I knew for sure they had, I bypassed their stands.  I am also boycotting a restaurant next to a drill pad in Fairmount Township.

I began searching for alternative food sources and discovered the joys of shopping at the Lands at Hillside.  The folks who bought this wonderful farm from the old coal barons opted not to lease these lands.  Hooray!  Now I buy hormone-free milk, free range eggs, Hillside Gold butter, fresh ice cream, and other goodies.  Life is good, and my tummy agrees.