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

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2013-10-15

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Abstract

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.

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10.1021/es402165b

Publication Info

Warner, Nathaniel R, Cidney A Christie, Robert B Jackson and Avner Vengosh (2013). Impacts of shale gas wastewater disposal on water quality in western Pennsylvania. Environ Sci Technol, 47(20). pp. 11849–11857. 10.1021/es402165b Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/8303.

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Scholars@Duke

Jackson

Robert B. Jackson

Adjunct Professor of Earth & Ocean Sciences

Robert B. Jackson is the Nicholas Chair of Global Environmental Change in the Earth and Ocean Sciences Division of the Nicholas School of the Environment and a professor in the Biology Department. His research examines how people affect the earth, including studies of the global carbon and water cycles, biosphere/atmosphere interactions, energy use, and global change.

Rob Jackson received his B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering from Rice University (1983). He worked four years for the Dow Chemical Company before obtaining M.S. degrees in Ecology (1990) and Statistics (1992) and a Ph.D. in Ecology (1992) at Utah State University. He was a Department of Energy Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow for Global Change at Stanford University and an assistant professor at the University of Texas before joining the Duke faculty in 1999. He is currently Director of Duke's Center on Global Change and Duke's Stable Isotope Mass Spectrometry Laboratory. In his quest for solutions to global warming, he also directs the Department of Energy-funded National Institute for Climate Change Research for the southeastern U.S. and co-directed the Climate Change Policy Partnership, working with energy and utility corporations to find practical strategies to combat climate change.

Jackson has received numerous awards, including the Murray F. Buell Award from the Ecological Society of America, a 1999 Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering from the National Science Foundation (one of 19 scientists honored at the White House by President Clinton), a Fellow in the American Geophysical Union, and inclusion in the top 0.5% of most cited scientific researchers (http://www.isihighlycited.com/). His 150+ peer-reviewed scientific publications have been cited more than 15,000 and 25,000 times in Web of Science and Google Scholar, respectively. His trade book on global change, The Earth Remains Forever, was published in October of 2002. His first children's book, "Animal Mischief", was published in March of 2006 by Boyds Mills Press, the trade arm of Highlights Magazine for children. Its sequel, "Weekend Mischief", appeared in 2010.

Jackson's research has been covered in various newspapers and magazines, such as the Boston Globe, New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Scientific American, and BusinessWeek, and on national public radio, including the syndicated programs "Morning Edition", "All Things Considered", "Marketplace", "The Tavis Smiley Show", "The Next 200 Years", and "Earth and Sky" (for which he was a science advisor and scriptwriter). He conceived and organized the Janus Fellowship, an annual undergraduate award to encourage the study of an environmental problem from diverse perspectives; 1999's first recipient traveled down the Nile River to examine water use and water policy in Egypt.

Vengosh

Avner Vengosh

Nicholas Distinguished Professor of Environmental Quality

Avner Vengosh is a Distinguished Professor and Nicholas Chair of Environmental Quality at the Nicholas School of the Environment. He is the chair of the Division of  Earth and Climate Sciences. Professor Vengosh and his team have studied the energy-water nexus, conducting pioneer research on the impact of hydraulic fracturing and coal ash disposal on the quantity and quality of water resources in the U.S. and China. He has also investigated the sources and mechanisms of water contamination in numerous countries across the globe, including salinity and radioactivity in the Middle East, uranium in India, fluoride in Eastern Africa, arsenic in Vietnam, and hexavalent chromium in North Carolina and China. As part of these studies, his team has developed novel geochemical and isotopic tracers that are used as fingerprints to delineate the sources of water contamination and evaluate potential risks for human health. Currently, his team is engaged in studying phosphate rocks geochemistry and the impact of fertilizers on soil and water quality, unconventional sources of critical raw materials, and potential environmental effects of lithium mining from hard rocks and brines. He is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America (GSA) and International Association of Geochemistry (IAGC). In 2019, 2020 and 2021 he was recognized as one of the Web of Science Highly Cited Researchers. He serves as an Editor of GeoHealth and on the editorial board of the journal Environmental Science and Technology. He has published 171 scientific papers in leading international journals. His recent cross-disciplinary book “Water Quality Impacts of the Energy-Water Nexus” (Cambridge University Press, 2020) provides an integrated assessment of the different scientific and policy tools around the energy-water nexus. It focuses on how water use, and wastewater and waste solids produced from fossil fuel energy production affect water quality and quantity. Summarizing cutting edge research, the book describes the scientific methods for detecting contamination sources in the context of policy and regulations.


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