Posts Tagged ‘water’

Research at WVU Concludes Waste From Test Fracking Wells Safe to be on Highways

Written by Tamara Vandivort on . Posted in Blog, News, Press Release

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Researchers at West Virginia University studied drilling wastes produced at two research wells near Morgantown and found they are well below federal guidelines for radioactive or hazardous waste.

Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of the West Virginia Water Research Institute at WVU, will present these and other findings from the Marcellus Shale Energy and Environmental Laboratory, or MSEEL, today at the Appalachian Basin Technology Workshop in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Ziemkiewicz and his research team are studying the solid and liquid drilling wastes that are generated during shale gas development. These include drill cuttings, muds and produced water.

Drilling a horizontal well in the Marcellus Shale produces about 500 tons of rock fragments, known as cuttings. WVU researchers have been studying the radioactivity and toxicity of the drill cuttings, which are trucked on public roads to county landfills.

MSEEL scientists found that using the “green” drilling mud BioBase 365 at the well site resulted in all 12 cuttings samples passing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s test for leaching toxicity, allowing them to be classified as non-hazardous for non-radiological parameters like benzene and arsenic.

They determined that the drilling mud exerted a strong influence over the environmental risks associated with handling and disposing of drill cuttings.

Ziemkiewicz discussed the findings in the context of the West Virginia, Pennsylvania and federal standards for transportation and landfilling. For example, the U.S. Department of Transportation classifies solid wastes exceeding 2,000 pico curies per gram (pCi/g) as low level radioactive waste requiring special permitting and handling.

“Radium is the dominant radioactive element in drilling wastes. In our study, the highest radium readings were below 10.8 pCi/g in the horizontal legs of the two production wells at the MSEEL site. Most were below 5 pCi/g,” says Ziemkiewicz. “The highest radium level in produced water found so far was 17 pCi/g. All of these are well below the U.S. Department of Transportation standard.”

Placing these materials in landfills, however, requires compliance with state landfilling regulations, which are based on exposure levels.

Ziemkiewicz’s team has also sampled the waste streams at the two production wells to identify changes in organic, inorganic and radiochemical composition over time. Among these findings, Ziemkiewicz noted that almost all contaminants increase through the production phase of an unconventional gas well while the volume of water drops rapidly. Toxic concentrations far exceed permissible levels for drinking water or discharge to streams. Most of this water is used for subsequent hydraulic fracturing operations. The remainder is disposed of under the states’ underground injection well programs.

When the production wells were completed in early December 2015, about 50 gallons of produced water came out of the wells each minute. Within a week that dropped to four gallons per minute, and it is currently one third of a gallon per minute or 460 gallons per day.

The MSEEL project is led by West Virginia University and the Ohio State University in partnership with Northeast Natural Energy, Schlumberger and the National Energy Technology Laboratory of the United States Department of Energy. It is the first-ever long-term, comprehensive field study of shale gas resources in which scientists will study the process from beginning-to-end.

The project site consists of an intensively instrumented science well and two shale gas production wells where researchers from WVU, Ohio State, the U.S. Geological Survey, USDOE and several other universities are studying what happens during and after hydraulic fracturing. The five-year MSEEL project includes engineers, ecologists, public health professionals, social scientists and more. The comprehensive studies include monitoring of baseline air, noise, light and water, as well as collecting of geological, environmental and other data.

“This has not been done in a publicly funded study before,” said Ziemkiewicz.


CONTACT: Paul Ziemkiewicz; West Virginia Water Research Institute

What’s In Your Water Part 3: Is Lead a Community Concern?

Written by Austin Pollack, WDTV on . Posted in Media, News

For the past few weeks, we’ve been warning you of the dangers of lead in water, and how older plumbing creates a higher risk of contamination.

Even though this is something utility workers are aware of, could it still come up in our area? 5 News spoke with many officials about this. They say there’s still that urge to check for lead pipes in your home, especially if they’re old. This is something water officials take very seriously, and they’re constantly checking their equipment to eliminate any potential risks.

With more attention focused on the contaminated water in Flint, Michigan, that could have some wondering, could it happen in North Central West Virginia? 5 News spoke with a water expert from WVU, who said this is something officials in Morgantown took care of a while back.

“A lot of the old service lines were lead,” said Paul Ziemkiewicz, the Director of the West Virginia Water Research Institute. “That was one of the big problems in Flint, Michigan. I’ve talked to folks at Morgantown Utility Board, for instance, and they replaced their last lead service line, in 1986 I think.”

We’ve also told you about how important it is to be proactive about the situation in order to prevent some of the symptoms associated with lead poisoning. Some of those symptoms include:


WVWRI Seeks to Hire Environmental Technician

Written by Tamara Vandivort on . Posted in Employment, News

The West Virginia University Research Corporation (WVURC) seeks to hire an Environmental Technician at the West Virginia Water Research Institute (WVWRI) at WVU. The purpose of this position is to perform water chemistry-related field and laboratory research activities. It will also provide technical support by implementing land reclamation projects within the WVWRI through collaboration with state and federal agencies, watershed organizations, university researchers, and external contractors.

A bachelor’s degree in biology, chemistry, or a natural resources related field, and 2 – 4 years of experience in water quality research are required. An equivalent combination of education and experience will be considered. A valid driver’s license is required.

Competitive salary and benefits package offered. For a complete job description and to apply for this position, please visit the job listing on the WVURC website.

Water Institutes Come Together to Show Impact of WRRI Program

Written by Tamara Vandivort on . Posted in Blog, News, Press Release

Water resources research institutes are required to leverage each dollar of federal support with two dollars of non-federal support. As a result, the WRRI program is one of the most cost-effective, cost-shared national research programs in the country.

Water resources research institutes are required to leverage each dollar of federal support with two dollars of non-federal support. As a result, the WRRI program is one of the most cost-effective, cost-shared national research programs in the country.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Outreach, communication, storytelling. These are important functions for any organization trying to get their message out. If the organization doesn’t do a good job telling their story people will fill that information gap with rumors, gossip or, perhaps even worse, they won’t know you exist. This is especially true when communicating the importance and impact of a program to members of Congress.

Each year, directors from the 54 water resources research institutes meet in Washington, D.C. at the National Institutes for Water Resources (NIWR) Annual Meeting. The institutes represent each state, as well as the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa.

This year’s meeting was held in February and served as an important opportunity for the NIWR directors to meet with legislators and show the impact that the Water Resources Research Institute (WRRI) program has across the country.

“With the intense competition for the federal funding that does exist in congress, it’s important that people understand what the [WRRI] program does and what it offers,” said Dr. Richard Cruse, NIWR president and director of the Iowa Water Center. “In the absence of sharing our story, it’s easy for someone to lose site of the importance of this program.”

Water resources research institutes are required to leverage each dollar of federal support with two dollars of non-federal support. As a result, the WRRI program is one of the most cost-effective, cost-shared national research programs in the country.

The WRRI program differs from other water research programs in that the NIWR network represents the only authorized federal-state program that focuses on applied water resource research, education, training, and outreach.

“A critical nature of this program is that there is a grass roots, or bottom up, decision on what is going to be funded,” said Cruse. “Most of the other programs are decided in Washington, D.C. and the program panels decide what the research is going to be about. The WRRI program is decided at the state level.”

This is important because the staff at the institutes and the advisory panels that guide them are made up of people who live in the state and make decisions informed by research outcomes. They know firsthand the most important issues facing water users in their state.

Dr. Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of the West Virginia Water Research Institute, pointed out that water research priorities, at the state level, change according to industry and market changes, regulatory initiatives and crises.

“These priority changes can happen quickly and the WRRI program allows a rapid response to state legislatures, agencies, industry and the public,” said Ziemkiewicz. “This is a need that simply cannot be filled through programs that focus on national priorities.”

Water problems, however, are not bound by state borders but by the watersheds in which they reside. That’s why collaboration among institutes is one of the most distinctive aspects of the WRRI program; states working together to solve local, regional and national water issues. According to Ziemkiewicz, just as each institute provides a state level focus for water research, collaborations among institutes within a region helps draw research talent toward trans-boundary water issues and develop solutions for federal and state policy makers.