Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Fracking Fluids Passed Through Treatment Systems Affect Drinking Water Supplies

By Duane Craig

Hydro fracturing in Beaver County PA
More evidence emerges of the environmental effects of fracking but this time the contamination is in surface waters instead of groundwater. Apparently the problem arises from fracking fluids being added to wastewater treatment facilities.

Fracking in Pennsylvania

Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, has a municipal authority that supplies drinking water and officials there have confirmed to their satisfaction that fracking fluids have contaminated the river water that supplies their system. The authority provides water for 17,000 people in 23 communities. Drinking water contained 0.099 mg/L of trihalomethanes (TTHMs) in 2010 and that prompted several warnings from the Environmental Protection Agency. Fracking in the Marcellus Shale began in that area in 2009. The maximum allowable content for TTHM is 0.08 mg/L.

According to the EPA, TTHMs “are a group of four chemicals that are formed along with other disinfection byproducts when chlorine or other disinfectants used to control microbial contaminants in drinking water react with naturally occurring organic and inorganic matter in water. The trihalomethanes are chloroform, bromodichloromethane, dibromochloromethane, and bromoform.” Excess bromide released into wastewater treatment centers by fracking operations is later released into waterways. The higher bromide levels reacting with the drinking water sanitizing chemicals caused the TTHM levels to rise. The municipal authority switched to chloramine and managed to get the TTHM levels below the federal mandate.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"any other natural or industrial sources of bromide that might be the source?"... I've been working and talking with Oil and Gas Pros in the Marcellus and comments have been shared multiple times that these pollutants were already coming from the treatment plants prior to any drilling activity, and it is more likely due to the mining that has gone on for years there. Finding the "true" source is critical... for all of us.
Posted by Dave Agee