There was a blip on NPR the other morning about this idea for disposing of highly contaminated waste fracking fluids: Loading and transporting down the Ohio river on barges.
Fortunately, citizens caught wind of this idea and there is some righteous uproar in response.
I also have faith that the Coast Guard will nix this idea. We will have to wait and see.
I like this article that explains the quality of the contaminated water. I highly recommend reading it.
Marcellus wastewater contains high levels of radium, barium, strontium and other naturally occurring elements. The radium and barium are drawn to each other, and form a flaky substance that pipeline companies call pipe-scale. This pipe-scale can concentrate enough radium in a single place that the pipes can be a radioactivity exposure threat. Regulators from EPA and OSHA have crafted federal rules on how this radioactive pipe should be handled and disposed. But barge-operators will need to contend with these dangers if they decide to haul frackwater.Speaking of scale,
For each fracked well, 80-300 tons of chemicals may be used. Presently, the natural gas industry does not have to disclose the chemicals used, but scientists have identified volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene.
The gas comes up wet in produced water and has to be separated from the wastewater on the surface. Only 30-50% of the water is typically recovered from a well. This wastewater can be highly toxic.
There is also a discussion about the Missouri River in this article.
Nationwide, the hydraulic fracturing – or “fracking” – process for capturing oil and gas is now using billions of gallons of water a year – by one estimate, the equivalent of what a million Americans consume annually.I don't think people understand the huge scale of fracking, much of what has been drilled in the last 10 years. Here's an NASA pic that shows the gas well flares glowing at night in North Dakota. I found this pic in this article, which I also highly recommend reading.
Many of North Dakota's fracking wells are close to the Missouri River which is where they get the millions of gallons of water needed to drill each well. This a Google Earth pic of Fracking Sites near Shell Creek Bay, Missouri River, North Dakota
Here's 3 Fracking Sites Near Water Reservior, Shell Creek Bay, North Dakota
In this article, we learned that EPA is relying on the fracking industry to report TO the EPA.
A complete EPA analysis of fracking's impact on Drinking Water Resources, regardless of the flawed process of industry self-reporting won't be completed until 2014. By that time tens of thousands of fracking pads, each capable of many deep earth drilling bores will have been completed creating BILLIONS OF GALLONS OF FRACKING WASTE WATER.
Where will all that waste water end up?
How much water will be contaminated by then? How much of it will contain radioactive components?
Do you think barges are a safe way to ship barrels full of fracking waste water? Is it worth risking the Ohio and Missouri Rivers to do?
Bad things do happen on the Ohio river. Here are just a few of the many "barge accidents" "Ohio River" articles found by searching Google:
Last week, 3 barges break loose on Ohio River
November, 2011, Crew Member Dies After Ohio River Barge AccidentAccording to the Coast Guard three barges broke loose from their tow near the McAlpine Locks. Two barges went over the dam and were secured, while the third barge remains lodged against the K&I Bridge2005 Barge Accident Stops Traffic on Ohio River posted on January 21, 2005
Ohio River traffic was halted along a 42-mile stretch this week after water levels fell to critical lows behind a lock and dam that was jammed by the wreckage of a barge accident.1989 Barge Accident spills unleaded gas into Ohio River