An Associated Press analysis of data from leading oil- and gas-producing states found more than 180 million gallons of wastewater spilled from 2009 to 2014 in incidents involving ruptured pipes, overflowing storage tanks and other mishaps or even deliberate dumping. There were some 21,651 individual spills. And these numbers are incomplete because many releases go unreported.
Though oil spills tend to get more attention, wastewater spills can be more damaging. And in seven of the 11 states the AP examined, the amount of wastewater released was at least twice that of oil discharged.
Spilled oil, however unsightly, over time is absorbed by minerals in the soil or degraded by microbes. Not so with the wastewater — also known as brine, produced water or saltwater. Unless thoroughly cleansed, a costly and time-consuming process, salt-saturated land dries up. Trees die. Crops cannot take root.
"Oil spills may look bad, but we know how to clean them up and ... return the land to a productive state," said Kerry Sublette, a University of Tulsa environmental engineer and specialist in treating the despoiled landscapes. "Brine spills are much more difficult."
In addition to the extreme salinity, the fluids often contain heavy metals such as arsenic and mercury, plus radioactivity. Even smaller discharges affecting an acre or two gradually add up for landowners — "death by a thousand bee stings," said Don Shriber of Farmington, New Mexico, a cattleman who wrangled with an oil company over damage.Click here to continue reading that article.
Ohio has not been immune to such wastewater problems, of course. The saga of Ben Lupo and Hardrock Excavating/D&L Energy was covered in detail on this blog.
Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter!