Posts Tagged ‘West Virginia’

Unprecedented: West Virginia University and Ohio State are raising the bar for shale drilling research

Written by Sarah Tincher, Energy Reporter, The State Journal on . Posted in Media, News

A team of researchers with West Virginia University and Ohio State University are getting up close and personal with the Northeast Natural Energy drilling site in Morgantown to study various impacts of shale drilling, and project leaders are calling it an unprecedented opportunity to drive change in the oil and gas industry.

“It’s been very difficult to get all of the kinds of information on the process that we really need to do the good science; to match up the field data with the process data,” said Michael McCawley, interim chair of the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health Sciences in the School of Public Health at West Virginia University. “It’s just extremely important to be able to gather this kind of information because it’s very expensive to do it. And to have the opportunity and to be in on that opportunity, it’s really groundbreaking and really important for science and for the people that science serves, which is the rest of the world, really.

“More transparency, better accuracy, better precision,” McCawley said. “That’s the name of the game in science.”

‘Absolutely critical’

The team of geoscientists, hydrologists, engineers, ecologists, social scientists and public health professionals began work on the study earlier in the summer through a five-year, $11 million agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

“I think (the partnership) is absolutely critical,” said Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of West Virginia Water Research Institute. “Here you have a company that’s operating that’s allowing us access to their site. You have a federal agency, the U.S. DOE, that’s providing the funding to make all this happen, and then you have two major research universities.

“And between them we have a tremendous amount of capability.”

Read the entire article on The State Journal website.

The Lowdown on Fracking

Written by Michelle Taylor, Editor-in-Chief, Labratory Equipment on . Posted in Media, News

What’s the real story behind fracking? The question is a viable one when it comes to the process of hydraulic fracturing, or extracting oil and gas from shale rock deposits deep below the Earth’s surface. Fracking in the United States currently stands in the crosshairs of a scientific, environmental and political debate that has raised more questions than answers.

In this instance, there are more than two sides to the coin. Each side has its opinion, each side has its research and each side has its motivations—which means we as a nation do not have a consensus. Does fracking contaminate the drinking supply? Is it a long-term option to help reduce energy costs? Does it cause earthquakes? Is it no more toxic than household chemicals?

The one thing all sides do agree on is the need for answers, to these questions and many more. The pathway to answers is simple—more research. According to PSE Healthy Energy, an organization that collects peer-reviewed papers on fracking, of the approximately 550 papers in their repository now, 75 percent of them have been authored in the last year and a half.

“That tells you there is a rapid increase in the amount of scientific investigation going on,” PSE founder and president Anthony Ingraffea told Laboratory Equipment. Ingraffea, a retired professor of engineering at Cornell University, is considered an expert on hydraulic fracturing, even consulting on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recent report.

Given this increasing amount of research, it can be difficult to get a handle on all subsequent information and data. This article examines recent news concerning the most talked-about applications surrounding fracking.

Hydraulic fracturing is not new; the process has been around for decades. What is new is what the technology drills into—shale rock. There are hundreds of miles of shale rock in the U.S. that, until recent years, were largely untapped natural gas reserves. For example, the well-known Marcellus Shale Region runs 600 miles at 900 feet deep along the Appalachian Basis in the Eastern U.S., touching New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.

In the 80s and 90s, traditional gas and oil wells targeted specific underground pools where the resources collected. If you drilled into the pool, you got lucky. If you missed, you made a dry hole. Conversely, if a shale region is found to be abundant with gas, you could drill anywhere the rock formation is present.

This is where the controversy picks up. Unlike traditional methods, this unconventional fracking method calls for an abundant amount of gas wells to be placed in a single region in order to get as much as possible out of the shale formation.

“It is an issue of spatial intensity,” Ingraffea said. “There are gas well pads across from schools and swimming pools and between the runways of the airport. There are pads within a few hundred feet of private property because the gas and oil is everywhere.”

Drinking water

Five years in the making, the EPA released its “Hydraulic Fracturing Drinking Water Assessment” report in early June. The draft report, which was commissioned in 2010 by Congress, concluded that fracking has not had a significant impact on water supplies, but remains cautious of possible risks.

“We did not find evidence that [above and below ground] mechanisms have led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States,” the EPA report reads. “The number of identified cases where drinking water resources were impacted are small relative to the number of hydraulically fractured wells.”

Two sentences later the report says there is insufficient pre- and post-hydraulic fracturing data on the quality of drinking water resources, which inhibits a determination of the frequency of impacts.

Since its release, the draft report has received flak for being nothing more than a 1,000+ page literature review on already-published information.

“There is no original data or original analysis,” Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of the West Virginia Water Research Institute, told Laboratory Equipment. “It would have benefited from more widespread sampling, especially in waste streams and basins. Another thing it did not have was any recommended practices, which I think [EPA] should have done.”

Read the entire article on the Labratory Equipment website.

West Virginia Water Research Institute to co-host Water Resources Conference Oct. 5-6; announces Call for Abstracts

Written by Andrew Stacy on . Posted in Blog, Events, News

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia Water Research Institute at West Virginia University is accepting abstracts through August 14 for the 2015 Water Resources Conference of the Virginias. The West Virginia Water Research Institute and the Virginia Water Resources Research Center at Virginia Tech will co-host the event, which takes place October 5-6, at Stonewall Resort in Roanoke, W.Va.

The conference combines exceptional educational programs with opportunities for researchers, policy makers, state and federal agencies, environmental consultants, private organizations and the public to share in the latest information, technologies and research relating to West Virginia’s and Virginia’s water resources.

logo_theme_dateThe theme for this year’s conference is “Water – Energy – Agriculture.” Researchers from colleges and universities, state and federal agencies, private organizations, consulting firms, industry and students are invited to submit abstracts for consideration for oral presentation. Abstracts for basic and applied research papers are being solicited in all areas related to water resources including agriculture, energy, monitoring, policy, supply, technology, water quality and others.

“Agriculture and energy are the two biggest consumers of water in the United States,” said Dr. Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of the West Virginia Water Research Institute. “We need to find technical, management, policy and economic solutions that will lessen the water requirements of the energy and agriculture sectors while finding better ways to treat and use marginal water resources.

West Virginia is the headwaters for many of the nation’s major rivers and WVU is a regional leader in water research. Our goal for this conference is to initiate an open dialogue among policy makers, water users and researchers and move toward solutions that will apply across the country.”

For more information about the 2015 Water Resources Conference of the Virginias, including registration and abstract submission details, please visit

The West Virginia Water Research Institute was established in 1967 and serves as a statewide vehicle for performing research related to water issues. It is the premier water research center in West Virginia and, within selected fields, an international leader.

Area cities addressing ‘BAD’ buildings at their own pace

Written by Jim Davis, The Exponent Telegram, June 21 on . Posted in Media, News

CLARKSBURG — Area cities participating in a statewide program on how to address vacant and run-down properties are pacing themselves, officials say.

Weston, Shinnston and Fairmont are among 17 municipalities in the BAD Buildings Program, an initiative of the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center at West Virginia University.

“Different communities are going at different speeds,” said Luke Elser, project manager.

BAD Buildings is an acronym for Brownfields, Abandoned and Dilapidated Buildings. The program is funded by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.

“The goal of the program is to help communities organize and start to solve abandoned and…

Read the full article on the Exponent Telegram website.