Sunday, January 23, 2011

Radon and Drinking Water from Private Wells

Radon causes an estimated 14,000 lung cancer deaths each year. It is the earth's only naturally produced radioactive gas and comes from the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water. You cannot see or smell radon, but it can become a health hazard when it accumulates indoors. It can enter your home through cracks and openings in the foundation floor and walls. When radon decays and is inhaled into the lungs, it releases energy that can damage the DNA in sensitive lung tissue and cause cancer.
Radon is a gas produced by the radioactive decay of the element radium. Radioactive decay is a natural, spontaneous process in which an atom of one element decays or breaks down to form another element by losing atomic particles (protons, neutrons, or electrons). When solid radium decays to form radon gas, it loses two protons and two neutrons. These two protons and two neutrons are called an alpha particle, which is a type of radiation. The elements that produce radiation are called radioactive. Radon itself is radioactive because it also decays, losing an alpha particle and forming the element polonium.

Radioactivity is commonly measured in picocuries (pCi). This unit of measure is named for the French physicist Marie Curie, who was a pioneer in the research on radioactive elements and their decay. One pCi is equal to the decay of about two radioactive atoms per minute.
Radon is measured in picocuries per liter and written as (pCi/L). One picocurie is one-trillionth of 37 billion disintegrations per second. One curie, named for Marie Curie, the discoverer of metallic radium, is the amount of radiation given off by one gram of radium.
Radon decay products (RDPs) such as polonium(218), lead(214), bismuth(214), and polonium(214), lead(210), bismuth(210), polonium(210) are measured in working levels (WL). A working level is the amount of RDP which normally results when the decay products are in equilibrium (maximum concentration) with 100 picocuries of radon in the air. RDPs are difficult to measure in a house though, because among other problems, RDPs have a static charge and tend to plate out (stick) to walls, furniture, clothing, dust, smoke, and other objects and substances.
One of the problems with understanding the amount of risk due to a specific radon level measurement is that the risk statistics are based on an average lifetime (70 years) spent in an exposed area, even though the average American moves every 7 years, and is thus exposed to many different radon levels.
The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers has set the lowest level, which suggests a radon action level of 2 picocuries per liter or less for commercial buildings and residences. The EPA has adopted a 4 picocuries per liter of air action level. The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration, on the other hand, suggests an action level of 16 picocuries per liter (while miners are in underground mines).
Because the level of radioactivity is directly related to the number and type of radioactive atoms present, radon and all other radioactive atoms are measured in picocuries. For instance, a house having 4 picocuries of radon per liter of air (4 pCi/L) has about 8 or 9 atoms of radon decaying every minute in every liter of air inside the house. A 1,000-square-foot house with 4 pCi/L of radon has nearly 2 million radon atoms decaying in it every minute.
Radon levels in outdoor air, indoor air, soil air, and ground water can be very different. Outdoor air ranges from less than 0.1 pCi/L to about 30 pCi/L, but it probably averages about 0.2 pCi/L. Radon in indoor air ranges from less that 1 pCi/l to about 3,000 pCi/L, but it probably averages between 1 and 2 pCi/L. Radon in soil air (the air that occupies the pores in soil) ranges from 20 or 30 pCi/L to more than 100,000 pCi/L; most soils in the United States contain between 200 and 2,000 pCi of radon per liter of soil air. The amount of radon dissolved in ground water ranges from about 100 to nearly 3 million pCi/L.
Why do radon levels vary so much between indoor air, outdoor air, soil air, and ground water? Why do some houses have high levels of indoor radon while nearby houses do not? The reasons lie primarily in the geology of radon - the factors that govern the occurrence of uranium, the formation of radon, and the movement of radon, soil gas, and ground water.
Radon is a naturally-occurring radioactive gas that may cause cancer, and may be found in drinking water and indoor air. Some people who are exposed to radon in drinking water may have increased risk of getting cancer over the course of their lifetime, especially lung cancer. Radon in soil under homes is the biggest source of radon in indoor air, and presents a greater risk of lung cancer than radon in drinking water. The map shown above represents the potential for a radon problem based on geologic boundaries, so that rock and soil units with similar radon generation and transport characteristics.
Radon will dissolve into groundwater and can be transported some way from the source. When the water is exposed to air the radon is released. If a well or bore hole is supplied from such water, the use in an enclosure such as a dwelling or greenhouse will release radon into that environment. Showers and sprays are a prime release method and the greater the water usage, the greater the potential radon problem.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency is reportedly prepared to set an maximum contaminant Level of 300 to 4,000 pico curies per liter for radon in drinking water. At high levels (i.e. among mine workers) radon is a known human carcinogen. There is, however, epidemiological evidence that low levels present no increase cancer risk (Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Dec. 1994). Additional research is needed before the true level of risk associated with low level radon is known.

"While most radon-related deaths are due to radon gas accumulated in houses from seepage through cracks in the foundation, 30 to 1,800 deaths per year are attributed to radon from household water."
Ref Source:
To Read More - Article Source

Radon in Air Testing

Radon in Water Testing

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Hydraulic Fracturing is Regulated by EPA via UIC if diesel fuel is used or proposed

The following is text from EPA Site.

"Water is an integral component of the hydraulic fracturing process. EPA Office of Water regulates waste disposal of flowback and sometimes the injection of fracturing fluids as authorized by the Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Water Act.

Safe Drinking Water Act

Several statutes may be leveraged to protect water quality, but EPA’s central authority to protect drinking water is drawn from the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). The protection of USDWs is focused in the Underground Injection Control (UIC) program, which regulates the subsurface emplacement of fluid. Congress provided for exclusions to UIC authority (SDWA § 1421(d)), however, with the most recent language added via the Energy Policy Act of 2005:

“The term ‘underground injection’ –
(A) means the subsurface emplacement of fluids by well injection; and
(B) excludes –
(i) the underground injection of natural gas for purposes of storage; and
(ii) the underground injection of fluids or propping agents (other than diesel fuels) pursuant to hydraulic fracturing operations related to oil, gas, or geothermal production activities.”

While the SDWA specifically excludes hydraulic fracturing from UIC regulation under SDWA § 1421 (d)(1), the use of diesel fuel during hydraulic fracturing is still regulated by the UIC program. Any service company that performs hydraulic fracturing using diesel fuel must receive prior authorization from the UIC program. Injection wells receiving diesel fuel as a hydraulic fracturing additive will be considered Class II wells by the UIC program. The UIC regulations can be found in Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations Parts 144-148. State oil and gas agencies may have additional regulations for hydraulic fracturing. In addition, states or EPA have authority under the Clean Water Act to regulate discharge of produced waters from hydraulic fracturing operations.
Clean Water Act

Disposal of flowback into surface waters of the United States is regulated by the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program. The Clean Water Act authorizes the NPDES program.
State regulations

In addition to federal authority to regulate the hydraulic fracturing process, states may have additional regulations on hydraulic fracturing and the production of fossil fuels."

1. Good
2. They are regulated as Class 2 UIC Wells

What is a Class II well?

Class II wells inject fluids associated with oil and natural gas production. Most of the injected fluid is salt water (brine), which is brought to the surface in the process of producing (extracting) oil and gas. In addition, brine and other fluids are injected to enhance (improve) oil and gas production. The approximately 144,000 Class II wells in operation in the United States inject over 2 billion gallons of brine every day.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Green Building Alternatives Push Asbestos Out of the Home - Green Building Solutions

A catalyst for homes, industries, schools, universities and business, the incredible diversity of enterprises is driven by a common bound to move to a green lifestyle and green building solutions. Inhabiting a world where environmental awareness is a vital concern to the future of our planet, it is important to take note of the consequences of improper building materials and environmental degradation.

The implementation of eco-construction and green environmental solutions will play an important role in the transformation to a healthier and sustainable world.

Throughout the greater part of the 20th century, asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral that was utilized in a variety of applications. Due to its flame resistant, highly durable and inexpensive qualities, it became the ideal choice for manufacturers as a form of insulation, piping, brake lining and flooring.
Many homes and buildings built prior to 1980 may still harbor asbestos, but even homes built in the 1990’s may contain asbestos in vermiculite insulation. Although Vermiculite alone does not contain asbestos, it came from one single mine that contained a large amount of asbestos. There are many green, eco-friendly materials that replace the need for asbestos and can reduce energy costs annually.

Healthy Tips

According to the experts, the general rule of thumb is if the asbestos is in good shape, it's posing no apparent risk. If it's in bad shape, it could be a problem. This is a serious concern because its toxic fibers can easily circulate and become inhaled. If any suspected asbestos is located, the best advice is to leave it alone. Asbestos that is left un-disturbed will normally pose no threat

Exposure to asbestos has been proven to be the only known cause of a rare but aggressive form of lung cancer known as mesothelioma. Due to a long latency period of 20 to 50 years for the disease to develop, a mesothelioma life span is not as positive as one would hope. Approximately 2,000 to 3,000 cases are diagnosed every year in the United States, accounting for three percent of all cancer diagnoses.

If asbestos needs to be removed, it should be performed by licensed abatement contractors. These contractors are trained in the handling and disposal of asbestos in public facilities and homes. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Quality is committed to protecting the public from asbestos-containing materials by educating and assisting with asbestos removal, transport and disposal.

GREEN Homes Push Asbestos Out of Homes - Green Building Training Program
“Green” home modifications will help save on energy costs and provide tax credits, but some of them may even be better for your health. Many locations throughout the United States are swiftly changing their construction practices to suit the environment and the health of human beings. The Department of Energy concluded that cooling and heating counts for up to 50-70 percent of all energy used in the average home in the U.S. In today’s state, this philosophy can also save natural resources.
Eco-friendly methods of building can have positive environmental, health and economic benefits. These include: Conservation of natural resources, enhance air quality, energy sustainability, increase property value, improve quality of life, improvement of pulmonary and cardiac health, Reduction of waste.
The implementation of green alternatives such as cotton fiber, lcynene foam, cellulose and thermal ceramic insulator can reduce annual energy costs by 25 percent. The ceramic foam is made of aluminum oxide, a high temperature ceramic noted for great insulating powers from its tiny air bubbles. Cotton fiber is also becoming a favorite insulation method.
Made from recycled batted material, it is then treated to be fireproof. Water based spray polyurethane foam, lcynene, is a healthy insulation which contains no toxic components. These asbestos alternatives allow for a healthy, safe home, free of health damaging materials.

Quality Links
Green Building Design, Sustainability and LEED Training
Energy Audits
Working With Asbestos Free packet with treatment information

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Barium in Drinking Water and Brine Water Marcellus Shale Citizen Private Well Monitoring

For drinking water the maximum contaminant level set by the EPA and used by the PADEP is 2.0 mg/L or 2000 ppb.   Barium (Ba+2) can cause an increase in blood pressure and affects the nervous and circulatory system.

Barium is a lustrous, machinable metal which exists in nature only in ores containing mixtures of elements.
Barium is a naturally occurring alkaline earth metal more commonly found in the Midwest or in brine water or fluids associated with oil and gas development.  In addition, barium can be found in landfill leachate, coal waste, paints, and high octane fuels.  Barium is used to make a variety of electronic components, in metal alloys, bleaches, dyes, fireworks, ceramics and glass.   With respect to Marcellus Shale development, high levels of barium may also be associated with elevated level of the following cations (positively charged ions): strontium, chloride, lithium, calcium, and sodium and elevated levels of the following anion (negatively charged ions): chloride.  The primary source of barium is most likely the natural saline water that exists below the freshwater aquifer and saline water that had been trapped in the bedrock at the time the sediment was being depositied, called connate water.

Regarding the barium content of the surfacewater and groundwater - this is difficult to answer, but I would probably say a value less than 0.5 to 1 mg/L would likely represent water that is not impacted by saline water.  For one sample, I know that is impact or consists of a mixture of saline and freshwater the barium content was about 1.6 mg/L.  This was not a well impact by Marcellus Shale Development or a spill, but the well was deep enough to permit the mixing of saline and freshwater.

For a NATURAL  saline seep in Susquehanna County, I have seen barium levels of over 160 mg/L.    For production water, barium concentrations may be over 6000 mg/L.  Since the solubility of barium chloride is over 30,000 mg/L, the barium is typically removed using a co-precipitation process by the introduction of bases (High pH solutions or other salts that form a compound with a lower solubility,such as the reaction of barium with sulfate- Solubility of Barium Sulfate is
2.5 mg/L).   If barium is above 2 mg/L, it violates a primary drinking water standard, but it can be easily removed using a water softener.

Barium - Is regulated as a primary drinking water standard, because it is associated with a potential health concern. 

For 20 years, I have been suggesting well owners get there water tested, here are some options:

a. Informational Water Testing
b. Free Manual for Private Well Owners - includes a section on barium
c. Baseline Testing Related to Natural Gas Development - Chain-of-Custody, Certified Testing and More.
4. Need Help Understanding Water Testing Result - FREE Service

Work as a Community - Support the Citizen Groundwater Database - Northeastern Pennsylvania

You can monitor your general water quality at home using a small handheld conductivity meter.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Groundwater Quality Water Quality Data, Bedrock Data in Northeastern Pennsylvania

Sources of Water Quality or Groundwater Data for Pennsylvania

"The Pennsylvania Ground Water Information System (PaGWIS) consists of a large Access relational database containing data for wells, springs, and ground water quality throughout Pennsylvania. An interface to retrieve data from the data file provides easy-to-use forms that quickly retrieve well, spring, and/or water quality information on the basis of a county, a latitude-longitude rectangle, or an approximation of a radius around a point. Latitude/longitude values can be entered in either decimal degree or degree-minute-second format.
The user is expected to have a working knowledge of file management under the Windows operating system. Although PaGWIS provides an interface that makes it simple to retrieve data for ground water sites in user-defined areas of Pennsylvania , the PaGWIS database contains much more data than is retrieved by these canned queries. With a working knowledge of Microsoft Access the user can modify the canned queries in order to retrieve exactly the information desired. "
Water Resource Report 69

Hydrogeologic and Well-Construction Characteristics of the Rocks of Pennsylvania

"The Bureau of Topographic and Geologic Survey has released Water Resource Report 69, Hydrogeologic and Well-Construction Characteristics of the Rocks of Pennsylvania. This report consists mainly of a Microsoft Access database and is authored by staff geologists Gary M. Fleeger, Thomas A. McElroy, and Michael E. Moore.
The database provides a statewide statistical summary of the hydrogeologic and well-construction characteristics of the stratigraphic units on the 1980 edition of the state geologic map published by the Bureau (Berg, T. M., and others, compilers, 1980, Geologic map of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Geological Survey Map 1, scale 1:250,000). Over many years, hydrogeologic studies have been completed in various parts of the state by different agencies. However, no statewide summaries based on these studies have been compiled prior to this report."

Digital Bedrock Aquifer Characteristics by Physiographic Section of Pennsylvania

"In 2001, the Bureau of Topographic and Geologic Survey (the Bureau) released the Digital Bedrock Geology of Pennsylvania. This dataset was based on Map 1, Geologic Map of Pennsylvania, by T. M. Berg and others. "
USGS ground-water-quality data in Pennsylvania-- A compilation of computerized [electronic] databases, 1979-2004.

USGS Groundwater Data for Pennsylvania

DEP ambient groundwater monitoring program groundwater data on Pennsylvania Spatial Data Access website (PASDA). Ambient and Fixed Station Network (FSN) Groundwater Monitoring Point Data (1985 - 1998)

Ground-Water Resources of the Brunswick Formation in Montgomery and Berks Counties, Pennsylvania
Summary of Groundwater-Recharge Estimates for Pennsylvania

Ground-Water Resources of Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania

Groundwater Resources of the West Branch Susquehanna River Basin, Pennsylvania

Chemistry and Origin of Oil and Gas Well Brines in Western Pennsylvania  (plus other reports on Frac Water Chemistry, Frac Chemicals, and Natural Gas Development)

Just a short list of resources


B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc

Free Manual for Private Well Owners
Groundwater Citizens Database for Northeastern Pennsylvania

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Asbestos, Lead, Home Inspection, and First Responder Training Programs Online Training Courses

Asbestos Training Program
In the construction industry, asbestos is found in installed products such as sprayed-on fireproofing, pipe insulation, floor tiles, cement pipe and sheet, roofing felts and shingles, ceiling tiles, fire-resistant drywall, drywall joint compounds, and acoustical products.

In this course the student will learn the OSHA requirements regulating asbestos in the construction industry.
The student is expected to read and review the material contained in the Asbestos Standard For The Construction Industry OSHA 3096.  The student must take a multiple-choice quiz consisting of twenty-five (25) questions at the end of this course to obtain 5 PDH credits.

Lead Training Program

Employers must be aware of workplace hazards facing their workers and must take appropriate action to minimize or eliminate exposure to these hazards. The interim OSHA standard aims to reduce the exposure to lead for construction workers. The most significant way to achieve this was by lowering the permissible exposure limit (PEL) of lead from 200 micrograms per cubic meter of air as an 8-hour time weighted average (TWA) to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air.
This course will review the new interim OSHA standards for lead exposure during construction activities. For the purpose of this standard, lead includes metallic lead, all inorganic lead compounds, and organic lead soaps. OSHA's lead in construction standard applies to all construction work where an employee may be occupationally exposed to lead. All work related to construction, alteration, or repair, including painting and decorating, is included.
Lead is a cumulative and toxic substance. People who swallow or inhale lead compounds may become ill or die from lead poisoning. Although lead is eliminated from the body at a slow rate, inhaling even a small amount of a lead compound over an extended period of time may cause lead poisoning. Immediate symptoms of disease may not be noticeable. As the blood is circulated through the body, lead is stored in various organs and body tissues. The lead stored in the body may be slowly causing irreversible damage: first to the cells, then to the organs, and finally to the whole body system.
Engineering controls reduce employee exposure in the workplace either by removing or isolating the hazard or isolating the worker from exposure through the use of technology. Under the lead in construction standard, mechanical ventilation may be used to control lead exposure. If used, the employer must evaluate, as necessary, the mechanical performance of the system in controlling exposure to maintain its effectiveness.

First Responder Training
Our first responder certification training program is designed to meet the growing demand for qualified individuals in the field of emergency management. The growing number of disasters in recent years has placed the field of emergency management in the spotlight. The demand for skills in this field is growing out of necessity and provides many opportunities in both the public and private sector for job seekers.

This multimedia-rich first responder certification training program reflects the practitioner and applied knowledge base, particularly lessons learned at local and state government levels. It is an emergency management program to address all phases of emergency management—the social and environmental processes that generate hazards, hazard/vulnerability analysis, hazard mitigation, emergency response and disaster recovery, emergency response, disaster recovery, as well as emergency planning.

Home Inspection Training ProgramOf all the home inspection certification courses available, we think you'll agree ours is the most convenient and affordable course available. National Institute of Building Inspectors (NIBI®) was established in 1987 to provide educational programs, occupational training, and technical support for the home inspection and construction industries. NIBI offers classroom training programs, special seminars, field-training, continuing education programs, and a web-based online learning program.
More Training Portals
B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc
Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)
Safety Training Programs (Workforce Development)
OSHA Construction Courses

Pennsylvania Online OSHA Continuing Education Courses For Workforce Development

B.F. Environmental Consultants based in Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Poconos region has been providing professional geological soils hydrogeological environmental consulting services since 1985. The company specializes in the following areas: hydrogeological and wastewater evaluations for siting land-based wastewater disposal systems; soils consulting (soil scientists), environmental monitoring, overseeing the siting, exploration, and development of community/ commercial water supply sources; environmental training/ professional training courses, and other environmental services.

New Program - OSHA Training Course for Well Drillers (0il and Gas Industry- 4 hour course)

Featured Course-OSHA Training and Certification Program

The OSHA Training & Certification Program takes you through the basics of OSHA's legal and reporting requirements by providing detailed information that is emphasized with numerous examples and administrative tips. Program pricing includes sample forms with directions for completing, sample response letters, a self-inspection checklist, and a test for those who wish to earn a Certified OSHA Administrator designation

OSHA 10 Hour Construction Program

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends Outreach Training Program courses as an orientation to occupational safety and health for workers. And while workers may need additional training based on OSHA standards and the specific hazards of their jobs, RedVector’s OSHA-online 10-Hour Construction Industry Outreach Training program can help inject entry-level workers with critical knowledge on a variety of OSHA-regulated safety and health topics. OSHA Underground Construction
OSHA 8 -hour Refresher

The goal of this OSHA mandated training is to provide personnel involved with the clean-up of hazardous waste sites the knowledge to safely work in a hazardous environment. This course is intended to assist in satisfying the annual training requirement of the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) rule, found in Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 1910.120. (Add Bloodborne Pathogen and Compressed Gas Safety)

First Responder Training Program

The Emergency Management Training for First Responders Online Program will give you the necessary skills and understanding of the issues and concepts surrounding emergency management to prepare you for a career in this field.

Excavation Safety and Shoring/OSHA

New construction projects usually involve excavation for utilities or foundations. The safety of personnel in excavations is regulated by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration). If personnel enter a trench that is over 5 feet in depth, a OSHA excavation safety plan is needed. OSHA dictates standards for shoring, sloped sidewalls, hazardous atmosphere, access, and other aspects of excavation projects. OSHA Fatal Accidents & Prevention

For more training opportunities including hands-on programs, go to

Friday, January 7, 2011

Pennsylvania Township to sell sewage wastewater for fracking - Water Reuse Using degraded water for hydrofracking

Not My Work - My comments below

January 7, 2011 - By DAVID THOMPSON

"HUGHESVILLE - On Dec. 16, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission did something it has never done before
It approved an application to sell treated municipal wastewater for drilling operations by the natural gas industry.
The commission's approval was given to the Hughesville Wolf Authority, which operates a sewage treatment facility that serves the Borough of Hughesville, Wolf Township and part of Muncy Creek Township.

The approval allows the authority to sell to gas drilling companies up to 249,000 gallons of treated municipal wastewater per day, according to authority engineer Charles W. Amer III, of Montoursville-based engineering firm McTish, Kunkel and Associates.
That accounts for slightly more than 60 percent of the treated effluent the authority's treatment plant discharges into Muncy Creek on a daily basis, Amer said.

Preparing a withdrawal site on the treatment plant property will cost between $400,000 and $500,000, Amer said. A 3/4-acre pad, segregated from the rest of the facility by a fence and connected by a separate access road, will be built, and two 21,000 gallon storage tanks, meters and other technology installed.
Treated wastewater contained in a chlorine contact tank - typically the final stop before entering a pipe that leads to the creek - will be pumped into the storage tanks. Tanker trucks will enter the facility by the access road, pull up to one of two fill stations and fill their tanks, Amer said.
Even with the set-up costs, selling treated wastewater has the potential to be lucrative for the authority, Amer said.
At $10 per 1,000 gallons - the mid-range point of what is being paid by gas companies for water used for hydrofracturing - the authority could bring in more than $900,000 a year if it sells all of the water it is permitted to sell, he said.
If the authority only sells two-thirds of the permitted amount at $8 per 1,000 gallons, it still will bring in about $485,000 a year, he said.

Amer said gas companies are interested in buying the treated water.
"We have non-binding commitments that well exceed the 249,000 gallons per day," he said. "We have six or eight companies that submitted letters showing interest in (buying) wastewater. Some submitted actual per gallon needs."Authority member William Senseman said customers will reap the benefits of the sale.
"We saw this as a win-win. It allows us to raise revenue to keep our rates down while maintaining the plant and keeping it compliant (with state and federal regulations)," Senseman said.Authority Chairman Daniel Thomas agreed.

"The community is going to benefit from this," Thomas said. According to Thomas, the treatment plant is relatively new and still has outstanding debt incurred from when it was built. Revenue from selling water will allow the debt to be paid off and keep user rates down.
That is on top of the fact that the authority already is efficiently run, he said.
"We're probably the only sewer authority that has actually dropped its rates in the last five years," he said.
Thomas said plans to sell the wastewater included a lot of thought into how local residents will be impacted by the potential truck traffic the facility could attract.
"Our number one concern is the disruption caused by excessive truck traffic," Thomas said. "We want to keep it at a minimum."
"We figured if we spread it out over a 24-hour period, it will only equal two trucks per hour on a maximum withdrawal day of 249,000 gallons," he said.
Senseman said that unlike some surface withdrawal points where water hauling trucks have unlimited access, the authority has total control over access to the facility and can make changes to reduce local impacts caused by the operation. Amer said the water gas companies will be buying from the authority will be very high quality.
"This plant has a very high level of treatment compared to a lot of other treatment plants," Amer said, adding treatment plant effluent is far below pollution limits set by the state Department of Environmental Protection.
"We'll be providing the industry with pretty clean water," he said. "Compared to other treatment plants' effluent, it's a higher quality of water.
Wastewater sold to the gas industry is less wastewater discharged into Muncy Creek, Thomas said.
Thomas credited the authority board, which also includes Richard Marsh, Richard Mausteller, Stephen Ryder, Jerry Kilgus and Robert Kolbrich, with putting their full support behind the initiative.
Still, there were challenges to receiving SRBC approval, primarily because the authority was pioneering new territory as far as supplying water for the gas industry. It was unclear what type of approval was needed to sell treated wastewater, Amer said."It was the first time they ever dealt with it," Thomas said.The commission is the agency that regulates water quantity issues in the river basin. It must give its approval for the consumptive use of water - defined as any use in which the water is not returned to its source - once the amount withdrawn from a source exceeds a certain threshold.
The threshold typically is 100,000 gallons of water per day. However, for the gas industry, no such threshold exists. SRBC approval is required for the withdrawal of a single drop of water for industry use."
Great Article - the source of the article is

1. Water Reuse has been done - This was proposed many years ago for other facilities to handle the need for a partially degraded water.
2. One item that should be checked is the water budget - if possible the approach should include funding for other water conservation measures and enhanced recharge of treated water in other areas.
3. The removal of the water from the plant should not result in a change in the NPDES permit or an increase in the Capacity.
4. Truck traffic will be high - maybe they could consider funding a pumping station to a site - this would be a traffic study.
5. Good work - thinking out of the box.
6. Funds should help to improve operations of the facility, decrease citizen cost, fund water quality and water conservation and promote other water reuse applications (industry, irrigation, etc).
7. How about looking at installing stormwater retention basins and using this as a resource for fracking?

Just my thoughts

Brian Oram, PG
B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hanger Pa. official defends rules on gas drilling waste

Source:  Associated Press- January 4, 2011 - This is not my work
"Pennsylvania's top environmental enforcement official said Tuesday that he is confident that wastewater discharged into rivers and streams by the booming natural gas industry hasn't degraded the state's drinking water.
At least 3.6 million barrels of the ultra-salty, chemically tainted wastewater produced by gas drilling operations were discharged into state waterways in the 12-month period that ended June 30, according to records reviewed by The Associated Press. Drinking water for hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians is drawn from those rivers and streams.
Those discharges have troubled some environmentalists. Most of the big drilling companies digging thousands of new wells in Pennsylvania have committed to curtailing or ending the practice.

John Hanger, the outgoing secretary of Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection, said he believes the new regulations are adequate to protect water supplies.
"The drinking water at the tap in Pennsylvania is safe. It has not been contaminated by drilling," he said.
The state set new standards in August governing discharges by any new drilling waste treatment plants, but allowed existing operations to continue putting partially treated wastewater into rivers and streams, as long as the water body's quality does not fall below federal drinking water standards.
Hanger said state officials have been using a network of sensors operated by his department and water supply companies to monitor for signs that rivers may have sustained a significant drop in water quality.

So far, he said, they haven't found any.
Many researchers have been particularly concerned with how the high levels of salt and dissolved solids in drilling waste might affect rivers, especially those that have already picked up unhealthy amounts of pollution from other sources, including abandoned coal mines.

If a river's total load of dissolved solids gets high enough, it can make the water taste bad, leave a film on dishes, corrode equipment and could give people diarrhea. Researchers, some of them working under the auspices of the federal Environmental Protection Agency, are still trying to determine if Pennsylvania's river discharges, at their current levels, are dangerous to humans or wildlife.
Hanger said no river used for drinking water has exceeded the EPA standard for dissolved solids for an extended period, although there have been some instances of seasonal spikes that can last for a few days.
"We are watching it very closely," he said.
Pennsylvania is rare among gas-producing states in that it allows the wastewater that flows out of natural gas wells to be disposed of in rivers

In most states, drillers are required to send the liquid back down deep shafts so it can't pollute surface water.
Drilling companies use about 2 million gallons of water a day in Pennsylvania to help get at the gas locked in its vast underground Marcellus Shale gas field. During a process called hydraulic fracturing, the water — mixed with sand and chemicals, some of them toxic — is forced into the wells at high pressure, shattering the shale and releasing trapped gas.

There has been a fierce debate over whether the wastewater that returns to the surface is hazardous.
It can contain high levels of some toxins, like barium, strontium and radium, but the treatment plants handling the bulk of Pennsylvania's gas drilling waste remove most of those substances before discharging the water.
State officials and industry participants say the amount of waste put back into waterways, while significant, is also safely diluted by the massive volumes of water in the rivers, reducing both any residual toxins and the salt to safe levels.

An AP review of state records found that the state couldn't account for the disposal method for 1.28 million barrels of drilling wastewater, about a fifth of its total, because of incomplete record keeping.
Hanger said the state is working to improve its methods for tracking wastewater, including making recent hires of additional staff.

"There's always room for improvement," he said.
It also found that in 2009 and part of 2010, about 44,000 barrels of drilling waste produced by the energy company Cabot Oil & Gas were improperly sent to a treatment facility in Hatfield Township, a Philadelphia suburb, despite regulations intended to keep the liquids out of the watershed. The liquids were then discharged through the town sewage plant into the Neshaminy Creek, which flows through Bucks and Montgomery counties on its way to the Delaware River. Customers in 17 municipalities get treated drinking water from that creek.

Water quality test results reviewed by the AP also showed that some public water utilities downstream from gas wastewater treatment plants have struggled to stay under the federal maximum for contaminants known as trihalomethanes, which can cause cancer if people drink tainted water for many years.
Trihalomethanes can be created during the water treatment process by dissolved solids in drilling waste, but other types of pollution are just as often to blame for the problem.

Hanger said those trihalomethane readings are "of concern," but he couldn't say definitively whether there was any link to gas drilling waste. Faced with opposition to river dumping and tightening state regulations, all of the state's biggest drillers say they are now recycling a majority of the wastewater produced by their wells in new fracturing jobs, rather than sending it to treatment plants.
Hanger said about 70 percent of the wastewater is now being recycled, which he credits to the tighter state regulations.

Still, with dozens more energy companies drawn to the Marcellus reserves — more than 2,400 wells have been drilled and work has started on 5,400 more — operators of the largest of the state's 16 most commonly used treatment plants say they haven't lost much business. In midwinter, records will be available to verify company claims of any major drop-off in river disposal.
—Copyright 2011 Associated Press"

My comments

1. The regulations related to the discharge of brine water are significantly more restrictive then other wastes.
2. I do not favor dilution as the solution to pollution - the industry needs to conduct more on-site treatment and reuse and develop a means of reusing the water for other applications.
3. We need to have real-time monitoring stations up-gradient of discharges and at multiple places downgradient.   Plus have this data accessible to water companies and others.  This could be done via a web-portal.
4. Trihalomethanes - I do not believe it is far to say this is caused be brine water discharge.  The formation of trihalomethanes is caused by a combination of the type and concentration of organic material contamination (there is a lot more organic contamination from sewage, combined sewer outfalls, and stormwater) then brine water and the type of pretreatment and type of disinfectant.  Now is the problem was bromide, barium, strontium, selenium, salts, rare earth metals, etc - maybe be brine water issue.
5. Companies that violate law - should see significant fines.
6. There are concerns related to invasive specifies, etc.
7.  Because of the strict surface water regulations - which are needed - this will likely push the industry to on-site treatment and reuse and deep well injection. 
8. Macroinvertebrate testing for the stream (baseline) and toxicity testing of the waste would be advisable.
9. Providing a means for water uses to cover the additional monitoring costs for parameters not normally tested under the Drinking Water Standards.

I have a previous post related to the proposed wastewater discharge regulations that were passed.

Monday, January 3, 2011

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