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Earth Science

Sewage Plants Struggle To Treat Fracking Wastewater 264

MTorrice writes "When energy companies extract natural gas trapped deep underground using hydraulic fracturing, they're left with water containing high levels of pollutants, including benzene and barium. Sometimes the gas producers dispose of this fracking wastewater by sending it to treatment plants that deal with sewage and water from other industrial sources. But a new study (abstract) suggests that the plants can't handle this water's high levels of contaminants: Water flowing out of the plants into the environment still has elevated levels of the chemicals from natural gas production."
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Sewage Plants Struggle To Treat Fracking Wastewater

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  • Re:Nothing to see. (Score:5, Informative)

    by compro01 ( 777531 ) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @03:51PM (#43216687)

    It's a movie quote. Specifically, Repo Man.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0087995/quotes?qt=qt0280548 [imdb.com]

  • Re:Unemployed? (Score:4, Informative)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @04:06PM (#43216841) Journal

    Even if your thesis were correct, extraction industries are among the least compelling examples you could choose:

    Historically, even your hardcore actually-in-Soviet-Russia-not-as-in-joking-about-it communists successfully managed to run big mining and drilling towns(if anything, more people might have been employed due to questionable capital allocation and lower available tech levels). Minerals are like nature's subsidies, you can get net-positive energy output just for digging a hole in the ground! If the situation is structured so that you don't internalize the externalities, even better.

    There are a few ways to fuck up a local extraction boom: if the resource in question doesn't ship well, you are at the mercy of regional demand and sometimes things are so bad that people just don't want what you dig up. If the resource does ship well, you can end up with a situation where(by either market or state coercion, it's been done both ways) the locals end up living in the tailings pile and the surplus value gets shipped out(see also Appalachian coal country, the Niger Delta, Zambian central province, etc.). Finally, you can either exhaust your mine, or get scooped by somebody else who has a much higher quality one(England, for instance, isn't exactly a coal-mining power anymore).

    If you want to talk the virtues of capitalist enterprise, try something with a much more complex supply chain, returns to innovation, need for a keen grasp of customer demands, and no history of communists pulling it off. Seriously.

  • by jweller13 ( 1148823 ) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @04:09PM (#43216875)
    Fracking was explicitly exempted from the federal Clean Water Act http://sites.duke.edu/sjpp/2011/ensuring-safe-drinking-water-in-the-age-of-hydraulic-fracturing/ [duke.edu]
  • Re:Nothing to see. (Score:5, Informative)

    by MickyTheIdiot ( 1032226 ) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @04:12PM (#43216891) Homepage Journal

    John Wayne, oddly enough did perform in the last movie Howard Hughes made which was called "The Conqueror."

    It's relevant here because they chose a site that was downwind from a nuclear test site. There are pictures that exist of John Wayne holding a Geiger counter on set.

    As IMDB notes: As of November 1980, 91 of the 220 cast and crew members had developed cancer. Forty-six had died, including John Wayne, Susan Hayward, Pedro Armendáriz (who shot himself soon after learning he had terminal cancer), Agnes Moorehead, John Hoyt and director Dick Powell. The count did not include several hundred local Native Americans who played extras, or relatives of the cast and crew who visited the set, including John Wayne's son Michael Wayne.
    I know my posts are good because of all the "Overrated" mods...

  • Re:Flouride.. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @04:14PM (#43216933)

    Of, for fuck's sake...

    Fluoride salts are used to enhance the strength of teeth by the formation of fluorapatite, a naturally occurring component of tooth enamel.[8][9] Although sodium fluoride is also used to fluoridate water and, indeed, is the standard by which other water-fluoridation compounds are gauged, hexafluorosilicic acid (H2SiF6) and its salt sodium hexafluorosilicate (Na2SiF6) are more commonly used additives in the U.S.[10] Toothpaste often contains sodium fluoride to prevent cavities.[11] Alternatively, sodium fluoride is used as a cleaning agent, e.g. as a "laundry sour".[7] A variety of specialty chemical applications exist in synthesis and extractive metallurgy. It reacts with electrophilic chlorides including acyl chlorides, sulfur chlorides, and phosphorus chloride.[12] Like other fluorides, sodium fluoride finds use in desilylation in organic synthesis. The fluoride is the reagent for the synthesis of fluorocarbons.

    The lethal dose for a 70 kg (154 lb) human is estimated at 5–10 g.[7] Sodium fluoride is classed as toxic by both inhalation (of dusts or aerosols) and ingestion.[13] In high enough doses, it has been shown to affect the heart and circulatory system.

    Consumption of large amounts of caffeine – usually more than 250 mg per day – can lead to a condition known as caffeinism. Caffeinism usually combines caffeine dependency with a wide range of unpleasant physical and mental conditions including nervousness, irritability, restlessness, insomnia, headaches, and heart palpitations after caffeine use.[18]

    It takes five to ten THOUSAND times as much sodium flouride to do what coffee will. That 5-10 grams? Swallow ONE gram of benzine and see what happens to you.

    Sorry, dork, your tinfoil hat tea party sites may swallow your bullshit, but there are a few here at slashdot who are a little better educated. How about you leave, and go back to NASCAR.com or wherever the hell you came from.

    Who gave whoever modded that idiot up mod points????

  • by Grayhand ( 2610049 ) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @04:23PM (#43217067)

    How to be successful: * Socialize the risks * Privatize the profits

    Even commercial car washes have limits on pollutants they pass forward to water treatment plants. I guess someone just conveniently forgot to include these energy companies.

    Bush Jr, he exempted them from the clean water act. They can legally dump then it's the city and county's problem.

  • by Tator Tot ( 1324235 ) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @04:58PM (#43217499)
    I'd like to think that more people would have an idea of what is actually in these fluids. There is a lot of information out there. Don't say "BUT.. BUT... THE COMPANIES DON'T WANT YOU TO KNOW WHATS IN THEM!" because that's not necessarily the case. Southwestern Energy has a nice inforgraphic [google.com] as to what can go into a frac fluid, and in approximate quantities. You can find many more online. Even Halliburton [halliburton.com] tells you what's in their fluids!

    We make a host of additives for frac fluids, like viscosifiers (the chemicals guar or xanthan gum), friction reducers like PHPA (the chemical partially hydroxylated polyacrylamide), and sand (the chemical silicon dioxide) or ceramic beads (typically bauxite based).

    The items mentioned in the article make it sound like "they are adding benzene and barium to the fluids, and we had no idea that they do this!". I'll help you guys out. Barite (barium sulfate ore) is added to every oil well in the world as a weighting agent for the drilling mud. It's solubility in water is nil. Would water that is flushed down a well that has been drilled capable of picking up barium that has formed a filter cake on the walls of the bore? Sure, but it's also in EVERY WATER OR OIL MUD USED IN EVERY WELL IN THE WORLD.

    Benzene in the frac fluid? Nobody adds benzene to frac fluid. Here is most likely how it got there: oil based drilling muds use diesel as a carrier fluid (if the drilling is done on land, not the case offshore). Diesel has 30% aromatic content (ie. benzene, toluene, xylene). IF the well was drilled with an oil mud AND the well was recently finished being drilled AND it was recently cleared out, then the first part of the "waste" frac fluid will probably contain benzene.

    They don't care right? WRONG. They do on site testing to make sure the sample doesn't sheen or have any type of oil based fluids in the water. If it does, then the water has to be treated before being disposed (i.e. sewage, lakes, rivers, etc). So my question to the people testing these fluids: At what point did they test for benzene? Did the frac water come from a well that was drilled using diesel? Did the frac water come from a well using water based fluids? Were these random frac waste samples? What part of the country did these frac water samples come from? Did the frac water encounter aromatic hydrocarbons in the formation?

    These things are needed to come to a conclusion as to where did these chemicals come from.
  • by Tator Tot ( 1324235 ) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @07:39PM (#43219021)
    1,2,4- trimethylbenzene is not benzene. Methylbenzene is also known as toluene, and by adding one more carbon you change the physiological effects in the body (benzene is cancerous; toluene isn't). Known carcinogens are not used in frac fluids.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"