Impacts of shale gas wastewater disposal on water quality in western Pennsylvania.

Journal Article

The safe disposal of liquid wastes associated with oil and gas production in the United States is a major challenge given their large volumes and typically high levels of contaminants. In Pennsylvania, oil and gas wastewater is sometimes treated at brine treatment facilities and discharged to local streams. This study examined the water quality and isotopic compositions of discharged effluents, surface waters, and stream sediments associated with a treatment facility site in western Pennsylvania. The elevated levels of chloride and bromide, combined with the strontium, radium, oxygen, and hydrogen isotopic compositions of the effluents reflect the composition of Marcellus Shale produced waters. The discharge of the effluent from the treatment facility increased downstream concentrations of chloride and bromide above background levels. Barium and radium were substantially (>90%) reduced in the treated effluents compared to concentrations in Marcellus Shale produced waters. Nonetheless, (226)Ra levels in stream sediments (544-8759 Bq/kg) at the point of discharge were ~200 times greater than upstream and background sediments (22-44 Bq/kg) and above radioactive waste disposal threshold regulations, posing potential environmental risks of radium bioaccumulation in localized areas of shale gas wastewater disposal.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Warner, NR; Christie, CA; Jackson, RB; Vengosh, A

Published Date

  • October 15, 2013

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 47 / 20

Start / End Page

  • 11849 - 11857

PubMed ID

  • 24087919

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1520-5851

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1021/es402165b

Language

  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States