Posts Tagged ‘West Virginia’

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

Written by Andrew Stacy 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

An icon that notifies readers of a West Virginia Water Research Institute Event.

Early bird registration is open for the 2016 #WVBrownfields Conference

Written by Andrew Stacy 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

Water Institutes Come Together to Show Impact of WRRI Program

Written by Andrew Stacy 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.

-WVWRI-

as/3/28/16

WVU teams up with the Boy Scouts to develop STEM program at Summit Bechtel Reserve

Written by Andrew Stacy on . Posted in Blog, News, Press Release

Coordinated by WVWRI, an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the WVU Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design and the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences will introduce scouts and their adult leaders to the environmental STEM field, particularly the aquatic sciences, while using the site as an ecology observatory and laboratory.

Coordinated by WVWRI, an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the WVU Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design and the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences will introduce scouts and their adult leaders to the environmental STEM field, particularly the aquatic sciences, while using the site as an ecology observatory and laboratory.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia Water Research Institute Director Paul Ziemkiewicz announced today a project to establish an environmental science, technology, engineering, and math education and research program with the Boy Scouts of America’s Bechtel Summit Reserve near Oak Hill, West Virginia.

An interdisciplinary team of researchers from the WVU Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design and the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences will introduce scouts and their adult leaders to the environmental STEM field, particularly the aquatic sciences, while using the site as an ecology observatory and laboratory.

The team will include Todd Petty, professor of wildlife and fisheries resources, Jim Anderson, professor of wildlife and fisheries resources, Nicolas Zegre, associate professor of forest hydrology, and Richard Thomas, professor of biology.

Through the program, scouts will earn merit badges while learning about ecology, biology, water science, wildlife and wetlands. Scouts will receive hands-on training through taking measurements, entering data and plotting simple graphs to see the results.

Fred King, vice president for research at WVU, is a strong supporter of the program. “This is a great opportunity to introduce a new generation of leaders to the environmental sciences, West Virginia and West Virginia University. They will find that we have a beautiful state and an outstanding natural laboratory to pursue meaningful studies while receiving hands on guidance from our leading environmental faculty.”

The reserve is the BSA’s newest high-adventure camp and is adjacent to the New River Gorge National River and more than 13 miles of the property border the park, providing access to more than 70,000 acres of managed, Appalachian highlands wilderness beyond the summit property. Up to 50,000 scouts are expected to be on site for major events such as the National Scout Jamboree, which typically takes place in July, with about 20,000 cycling through the site every two weeks during the remainder of the summer.

Federal funding of this project is provided through the U.S. Geological Survey’s section 104b program. The USGS awards 104b grants to State Water Research Institutes that have been established in each of the 50 states, three U.S. territories and the District of Columbia under the provisions of the Water Resources Research Act of 1984. The West Virginia Water Research Institute, a program of the National Research Center for Coal and Energy at West Virginia University, serves as a statewide vehicle for performing research related to water issues. WVWRI is the premiere water research center in West Virginia and, within selected fields, an international leader.

-WVWRI-

as03/21/16