Posts Tagged ‘West Virginia University’

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.

-WVU-

CONTACT: Paul Ziemkiewicz; West Virginia Water Research Institute
304.293.6958; Paul.Ziemkiewicz@mail.wvu.edu

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Early bird registration is open for the 2016 #WVBrownfields Conference

Written by Tamara Vandivort on . Posted in Blog, Events, News

Register by August 5 to receive the early bird rate!

Conference Logo Website

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Early bird registration is now open for the 2016 #WVBrownfields Conference. The event, hosted by the West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Centers, will be held Sept. 7-8 at the Marriott Town Center in Charleston.

“Reclaim. Restore. Revitalize.” is the theme for this year’s conference, which will feature sessions covering all aspects of brownfields redevelopment, including project financing and deal structuring, downtown redevelopment, community engagement, specialty training on remediation, networking receptions, and the inaugural Central Appalachian Regional Brownfields Summit on Sept. 8.

“We are very excited for this year’s conference and we are particularly excited about partnering with other Central Appalachian states, agencies and service providers to host the Central Appalachian Regional Brownfields Summit,” said Patrick Kirby, director of the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center at West Virginia University.

“Part of figuring out the redevelopment puzzle is collaboration and learning from others. We feel that the West Virginia Brownfields Conference is the perfect forum for that regional collaboration and the Summit will be something that is beneficial to both West Virginia and the Central Appalachian Region.”

The 2016 #WVBrownfields Conference will kick off with three pre-conference workshops on the afternoon of Sept. 6, followed by a Networking Welcome Reception. The first full day of the Conference, Sept. 7, will feature programming and sessions related to brownfield redevelopment in West Virginia, followed that evening by a Regional Networking Reception. The second day, Sept. 8, will feature sessions covering regional brownfields topics impacting Central Appalachia.

This premier redevelopment event attracts over 200 stakeholders including regional EPA officials, economic development professionals, real estate developers, lawyers, state and local officials, environmental professionals, entrepreneurs, planners, bankers, investors, and community redevelopment professionals.

For more information, to register, and to consider becoming a sponsor or exhibitor for the 2016 #WVBrownfields Conference, visit www.wvbrownfields.org/2016-conference/.

-WVU-

as/5/18/16

CONTACT: Andrew Stacy, West Virginia Water Research Institute
304.293.7085, astacy@mail.wvu.edu

WRI Graduate Assistant is Recipient of New Rockefeller Scholarship

Written by WVU News on . Posted in Media, News

West Virginia University students studying within the new John D. Rockefeller IV School of Policy and Politics now have the opportunity to earn a scholarship also bearing the former U.S. Senator’s name.

A $100,000 gift from Rockefeller to the WVU Foundation has created the John D. Rockefeller IV Leadership Award in Policy & Politics. Former Senator Jay Rockefeller endowed this scholarship in the hope that it would enable our best and brightest students to experience meaningful public service or research that would also help us collectively address some of our biggest policy questions or community challenges.

“My sincere hope is that this scholarship will allow star students to take an important step on their journeys to better understand how they can change their world today and into the future,” said Rockefeller.

The first recipient of this new scholarship is Michelle Sloane of Paramus, New Jersey, a student in the Master of Public Administration program. As a graduate student, Sloane has been involved in several public service projects, including developing community capacity in Fairmont, West Virginia and exploring budget frameworks for the WVU Extension Fire Service. She serves in a leadership role in the WVU Student Association of Public Administrators and volunteers with the West Virginia Botanical Gardens. Michelle also works as a Graduate Research Assistant at the West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center.

“The Rockefeller Scholarship is the embodiment of the WVU land grant vision of enhancing the vitality and well-being of the people of West Virginia,” Maja Holmes, associate professor of public administration, said. “Michelle’s service-learning project represents the commitment of WVU students to make this vision a reality,” Holmes said.

Terms of the scholarship agreement call for recipients of the award to be undergraduate students who are participating in off-campus service learning opportunities related to policy, leadership, or public services in areas related to challenges facing the state of West Virginia. Second preference would be for graduate students doing direct public service, with the proper temperament, approach, and understanding of the culture and needs of the community in areas related to the challenges facing the state.

Sloane will be working to advance the creation of the Fairmont Black History Museum. The project will address the challenge of giving voice to an underrepresented part of the community, promote understanding of cultural diversity in West Virginia, and offer education and outreach opportunities to members of the greater Fairmont community.

“I am passionate about helping people access information and resources,” Sloane said. “I have worked with Fairmont in different capacities and look forward to the opportunity to delve deeper and help this particular community showcase one of its strongest assets – its rich cultural history.”

Recipients of the award will be required to prepare a report of their experience, which will be included in the John D. Rockefeller IV archives located in the WVU Libraries.

In November 2014, Rockefeller and WVU announced the naming of the John D. Rockefeller IV School of Policy and Politics at WVU within the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. In addition to the announcement, Rockefeller and WVU designated the WVU Libraries as the permanent home of the John D. Rockefeller IV Senatorial Archives and dedicated the John D. Rockefeller IV Gallery in the WVU Downtown Library in honor of the Democratic senator’s nearly 50 years of public service to the citizens of West Virginia. For more on the naming and library archives, see earlier news release.

The Rockefeller gift was made in conjunction with A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University. The $1 billion fundraising effort on behalf of WVU runs through December 2017.

WVWRI Project Highlighted in WVU Magazine

Written by WVU Magazine on . Posted in Media, News

The West Virginia Water Research Institute’s project to extract Rare Earth Elements from Coal Mining Waste was recently highlighted in the Spring 2016 Issue of WVU Magazine. Below is an except from that highlight.

Second Life of Mines

Buried in acid mine drainage are elements that the U.S. is almost exclusively importing. And since these elements are in our cell phones, defense applications, GPS technology, medical equipment, DVDs and rechargeable batteries, demand for them is increasing.

Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of the West Virginia Water Research Institute and leader of the project said, “Successful development of this concept will generate an additional revenue stream for the coal industry, create jobs and incentivize acid mining treatment. At the same time, it will reduce U.S. reliance on foreign supplies of rare earth elements.”

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