Posts Tagged ‘water quality’

Ziemkiewicz comments West Virginia needs hard data on shale gas drilling waste to determine safe disposal

Written by Glynis Board, West Virginia Public Broadcasting on . Posted in Media, News

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — There are lessons to be learned from Montana on how to handle drill cuttings and solid waste from fracking, reports Glynis Board of West Virginia Public Radio.

“There are lots of federal regulations governing what businesses can legally dump into water, the ground, or release into the air. But the gas industry is getting around a lot of those regulations. The oil and gas industry enjoys exemptions from seven federal laws, including one that is supposed to protect human health from the hazards of waste disposal. Other states have passed their own laws regulating this waste to compensate. But it’s a looser system in West Virginia,” writes Board.

Past practice by drillers was to bury drill cuttings on site.

Marc Glass a remediation specialist for an environmental consulting firm said there’s evidence frack waste needs cleaned up.

While Communications Director at the DEP, Kelly Gillenwater reports, “no remediation of drilling sites has been deemed necessary due to drill cuttings. [DEP] took radiation meters to more than a dozen sites in 2014 as part of a project with [the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources] and no harmful levels of radiation were detected.”

Paul Ziemkiewicz, the director of the West Virginia Water Research Institute, thinks hard data is needed.on shale gas drilling waste.

“The big question that’s still unanswered is whether this stuff is hazardous or not. And if it’s hazardous that starts informing what kind of landfill it ought to go into, what standards that landfill ought to be meeting,” said Ziemkiewicz.

Ziemkiewicz told Board it’s not that nobody knows what to do with this industrial waste. There are tests and procedures that other industries have to use, and states can require oil and gas companies to follow those requirements, too. That’s what Montana does.

Board suggests there are three lessons to be learned from Montana.

Survey: Allegheny River water quality holds steady

Written by Mary Ann Thomas, Staff Writer, Trib Total Media on . Posted in Media, News

Water quality is holding steady on the Allegheny River even though Marcellus shale drilling waste water and other river contaminants linger, according to one of the most comprehensive water surveys in the region.

However, all the news is not good: water from a creek in Indiana County that eventually drains into the Allegheny River via the Kiski River near Freeport keeps turning up bromide, a salt often associated with waste water from Marcellus shale fracking and abandoned mine drainage.

When combined with chlorine to treat drinking water drawn from the Allegheny, bromide form the carcinogen trihalomethane (THM).

The results are part of the Three Rivers Quest (3RQ) study, now in its third year, covering more than 30,000 square miles of the Upper Ohio River Basin. There are 54 sampling locations along the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers and at the mouths of their major tributaries.

Read the entire article on the Pittsburgh Tribune Review website.

Additional WVU testing confirms acceptable levels of radioactivity in drinking water at Clyde Mine

Written by Andrew Stacy on . Posted in Blog, News

Treated affluent from Clyde Mine discharging into Tenmile Creek, Greene County, PA.

Treated affluent from Clyde Mine discharging into Tenmile Creek, Greene County, PA.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Additional testing by the West Virginia Water Research Institute (WVWRI) at Clyde Mine on Tenmile Creek shows acceptable radium levels in drinking water.

Tenmile Creek is the primary watershed within Greene County Pennsylvania, passing through Waynesburg before joining the Monongahela River in Clarksville, Pennsylvania.

“We looked hard and just could not find any evidence of harmful radiation levels,” said Dr. Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of the WVWRI.

Methodology

WVWRI sampled the Clyde Mine discharge on Tenmile Creek six times over a two-week period beginning in late July to make sure the results were representative. That data showed that the highest minimum detectable concentration (MDC) of alpha radiation was 2.95 pCi/L, while the drinking water limit is 5 pCi/L. The reported values averaged 0.74 pCi/L.

In April 2014, sSampling done by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) in April 2014 indicated high levels of radium in discharges to Tenmile Creek from the abandoned Clyde Mine and coal refuse piles farther upstream near Waynesburg and another at the Cumberland Mine on Whiteley Creek.

“The radium numbers were high but not consistent with the much lower gross alpha radiation readings,” said Ziemkiewicz. “Radium is an alpha emitter and the gross alpha reading should be the sum of all of the alpha emitters.

Ziemkiewicz said there were to other problems with the data.

“It wasn’t clear from the 2014 PADEP data which analytical method was used to determine radium concentrations, and the MDC were not provided,” he said. “MDC tells you the lowest data value that can be reported with confidence. For example, if the MDC is 100 all you can say is that the actual value is somewhere between zero and 100.”

Ziemkiewicz explained that if the reading is 50 and the MDC is 100 you still can only say that the actual value is somewhere between zero and 100.

“This is extremely important to remember when evaluating radiochemical results,” he said. “When we saw these inconsistencies we decided to resample and reanalyze using approved EPA methods. We guessed that PADEP determined radium by gamma spectroscopy.”

According to Ziemkiewicz, that method is used mainly as a screening tool for solid wastes.
“It’s cheap but not very precise when used for water samples,” said Ziemkiewicz. “It may be the best method for undiluted Marcellus flowback water where interfering ions like strontium and barium measure in the thousands of milligrams per liter. But the Clyde mine discharge had zero barium and only 6.6 milligrams per liter of strontium, so interference is not an issue. That’s why we used the more precise radiochemistry methods.”

In June of this year, WVWRI sampled the same sites that PADEP had sampled in 2014 and sent the water samples to PACE Analytical Services in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, for analysis. PACE is a state-certified radiochemistry lab. The radium results came in well below EPA drinking water levels.

The only parameter that was close to the drinking water limit was gross alpha, which was 13.4 pCi/L. The drinking water limit is 15 pCi/L. However, the total dissolved solids were high in this sample. So in addition to EPA method 900.0, WVWRI asked PACE to use EPA method 7110C, which is recommended for high-total dissolved solids water.

Providing research data for residents

Funded by the Colcom Foundation, the WVWRI’s Three Rivers QUEST (3RQ) REACH program provided the means to initiate this targeted study for radiologicals on Tenmile Creek in response to residents’ concerns.

The 3RQ program brings together academic researchers with grassroots organizations by collecting field water-quality data and information from local water monitoring groups that are in tune with the health of their local watersheds.

“Several watershed organizations have been monitoring along Tenmile Creek. When their field instruments suggest something unusual we can respond with more detailed chemical analysis. Testing for radiologicals is expensive and beyond the means of most citizens,” said Melissa O’Neal, 3RQ project manager. “Results from this targeted study provide reliable data to local residents who are concerned about the quality of their streams.”

The 3RQ program has been monitoring the mouth of Tenmile Creek since 2009 for a suite of chemical parameters. Results from WVWRI and its partner grassroots water monitoring organizations is shared with the public on the program’s website, 3RiversQUEST.org.

CONTACT: Andrew Stacy, West Virginia Water Research Institute
304-293-7085; ASTACY@mail.wvu.edu

Recent Water Quality Testing of Tenmile Creek Shows Radium Levels Well Below Federal Drinking Water Standards

Written by Andrew Stacy on . Posted in Blog, News

Clyde Mine Discharge Tenmile Creek

Treated effluent from Clyde Mine discharging into Tenmile Creek, Greene County, Pennsylvania. Recent water quality testing of Tenmile Creek showed radium levels well below federal drinking water standards.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Tenmile Creek is an important tributary to the Monongahela River, running 40 miles through forested hills and farms in Greene County, Pennsylvania. In 2015, Ken Dufalla, president of the Izaak Walton League of America’s (IWLA) local chapter obtained 2014 water quality data for Tenmile Creek from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP). After reviewing the data, Dufalla contacted Dr. Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of West Virginia University’s Water Research Institute (WVWRI) in nearby Morgantown and the two concluded that the data indicated unusually high levels of radium. In response, the two decided to sample the same sites that the PADEP sampled to verify the results.

So, in June 2015, Dufalla guided WVWRI personnel to three coal mine discharges into Tenmile Creek. The samples were analyzed by Pace Analytical Services, a state-certified lab in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. The results showed that radium was no higher than 0.75 pCi/L, well below the drinking water standard of 5 pCi/L set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In contrast, the 2014 PADEP radium readings were as high as 300 pCi/L.

“Pace Analytical used the USEPA recommended methods for determining radium in drinking water, so our results should be highly reliable,” said Ziemkiewicz.

Ziemkiewicz indicated that the PADEP is in the middle of re-sampling Tenmile Creek and he looks forward to comparing results.

Funded by the Colcom Foundation, the WVWRI’s Three Rivers QUEST (3RQ) REACH program provided the means for WVWRI to initiate this targeted study for radiologicals on Tenmile Creek, in response to residents’ concerns.

The 3RQ program brings together academic researchers with grassroots organizations by collecting field water quality data and information from local water monitoring groups that are in-tune with the health of their local watersheds.

“Several watershed organizations have been monitoring along Tenmile Creek. When their field instruments suggest something unusual we can respond with more detailed chemical analysis. Testing for radiologicals is expensive and beyond the means of most citizens” said Melissa O’Neal, 3RQ project manager.

“Results from this targeted study provide reliable data to local residents who are concerned about the quality of their streams.”

The 3RQ program has been monitoring the mouth of Tenmile Creek since 2009 for a suite of chemical parameters. Results from WVWRI and its partner, grassroots water monitoring organizations is shared with the public on the program’s website, 3RiversQUEST.org.