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Review on the Evaluation of the Impacts of Wastewater Disposal in Hydraulic Fracturing Industry in the United States

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  • The University of oklahoma

Abstract and Figures

This paper scrutinized hydraulic fracturing applications mainly in the United States with regard to both groundwater and surface water contamination with the purpose of bringing forth objective analysis of research findings. Results from previous studies are often unconvincing due to the incomplete database of chemical additives; after and before well-founded water samples to define the change in parameters; and specific sources of water pollution in a particular region. Nonetheless, there is a superior chance of both surface and groundwater contamination induced by improper and less monitored wastewater disposal and management practices. This report has documented systematic evidence for total dissolved solids, salinity, and methane contamination regarding drinking water correlated with hydraulic fracturing. Methane concentrations were found on an average rate of 19.2 mg/L, which is 17 times higher than the acceptance rate and the maximum value was recorded as 64.2 mg/L near the active hydraulic fracturing drilling and extraction zones than that of the nonactive sites (1.1 mg/L). The concentration of total dissolved solids (350 g/L) was characterized as a voluminous amount of saline wastewater, which was quite unexpectedly high. The paper concludes with plausible solutions that should be implemented to avoid further contamination.
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technologies
Review
Review on the Evaluation of the Impacts of
Wastewater Disposal in Hydraulic Fracturing Industry
in the United States
Munshi Md. Shafwat Yazdan 1,*, Md Tanvir Ahad 2 ,* , Ishrat Jahan 3and
Mozammel Mazumder 4, *
1Civil and Environmental Engineering, Idaho State University, Pocatello, ID 83209, USA
2School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK 73019, USA
3Computer Science Engineering, East West University, Dhaka 1212, Bangladesh; arnajahan00@gmail.com
4
School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA
*Correspondence: yazdmuns@isu.edu (M.M.S.Y.); Md.Tanvir.Ahad-1@ou.edu (M.T.A.);
mmazumde@nd.edu (M.M.)
Received: 27 September 2020; Accepted: 11 November 2020; Published: 12 November 2020


Abstract:
This paper scrutinized hydraulic fracturing applications mainly in the United States with
regard to both groundwater and surface water contamination with the purpose of bringing forth
objective analysis of research findings. Results from previous studies are often unconvincing due to
the incomplete database of chemical additives; after and before well-founded water samples to define
the change in parameters; and specific sources of water pollution in a particular region. Nonetheless,
there is a superior chance of both surface and groundwater contamination induced by improper
and less monitored wastewater disposal and management practices. This report has documented
systematic evidence for total dissolved solids, salinity, and methane contamination regarding drinking
water correlated with hydraulic fracturing. Methane concentrations were found on an average rate of
19.2 mg/L, which is 17 times higher than the acceptance rate and the maximum value was recorded
as 64.2 mg/L near the active hydraulic fracturing drilling and extraction zones than that of the
nonactive sites (1.1 mg/L). The concentration of total dissolved solids (350 g/L) was characterized as a
voluminous amount of saline wastewater, which was quite unexpectedly high. The paper concludes
with plausible solutions that should be implemented to avoid further contamination.
Keywords:
surface water; groundwater; methane gas; salinity; total dissolved solids; contamination
1. Introduction
The number of natural oil and gas well services in the USA up to 2019 was over one million
(U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) 2019) [
1
3
]. Natural gas extraction by hydraulic
fracturing as well as horizontal drilling has advanced the U.S. gas economy by altering the global
energy markets in the country, leading toward reasonable natural gas and oil prices [
4
8
]. Hydraulic
fracturing, also known as fracking, is a method of drilling used for extracting petroleum, mostly oil,
and gas deep in the soil. In the process of fracking, a mixture of water and sand as well as chemical
additives are thrust into wells under high pressure to make cracks and fissures in rock formation [
9
11
].
Throughout the hydraulic fracturing process, up to four million gallons of water-based mixture fluid is
injected into a single well to begin and increase fractures as well as to transport the proppant, of which
10–70% is recovered as flowback afterward [1216].
Apart from flowback water, produced water, which is the largest quantity of waste product, is also
generated during the hydraulic fracturing process. In 2009, more than 70 billion barrels (annually)
of produced water was reported globally, among which, the U.S., itself produced 21 billion barrels.
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Technologies 2020,8, 0067 2 of 17
In the formation of produced water, there are two processes that are involved. At the beginning,
the underground water near the oil and gas deposits reaches into the extraction region due to pressure
abatement. The second process commits, while injecting the water into the subsurface oil fields to
explore oils to the surface. During the hydraulic fracturing oilfield exploration, these two processes
merge to produce wastewater [
17
]. In the fracturing industry, the volume of produced water (PW)
increases with the age of the gas and oilfields. Produced water (PW) contains 80% of the waste and
residuals generated during the hydraulic fracturing exploration. Produced water has distinctive
characteristics, having inorganic and organic components along with dissolved and dispersed oils
and grease components. Naturally, produced water contains heavy metals, dissolved gases, treating
chemicals, radionuclides, scaling products, and microorganisms that create the microbial corrosion
process into the pipes, etc. [18,19].
Although hydraulic fracking was first introduced in the early 20th century, up to the mid to late
1940s, it was not commercially used. To raise the productivity of shale gas from unconventional sources
like coalbeds, shale, and tight sands as well as in the application for extraction from conventional
sources, this is a standard procedure. For drilling, almost 90% of all oil and gas deep wells use the
hydraulic fracturing technique in the United States. The availability of data, however, is insucient to
prove this estimate [
20
]. Dealing with hydraulic fracturing, wastewater disposal, and the overuse of
fresh water in each well are currently the major concerns with hydraulic fracturing [
21
23
]. Depending
upon the rock formation and other biological and physical parameters, the hydraulic fracturing process
varies from well to well. Approximately 17,000 m
3
/day of fresh water is used in each well for the
drilling process [
24
]. Due to the high levels of radioactive materials, extremely toxic metals, and salinity,
which are often present in the waste fluids, therefore, ensuring the safety of the disposal of large
amounts of liquid as the waste correlating with shale gas and oil production has become a largescale
challenge [2531].
The reasons for the problems faced during dierent states that have been reported: contamination
of drinking water, leaks in wastewater storage ponds, dumping a petroleum based product in the
stream, dumping toxic products in the stream, pit leaks and corroded tanks, hundreds of oilfield spills
and thousands of waste disposal, hydraulic fracturing drilling, significant increases in the acceptance
levels of methane, total dissolved solids (TDS), salinity, ethane, propane etc. The impact of the problem
ranged from water discoloration and malodor to posing adverse health risks for humans, plants,
and animals. For example, individuals experienced rash and in one state, it was reported that young
children with their parents were adversely aected with neurological symptoms [2832].
Hence, the strategy of this study was to present some eective research findings concerning
the hydraulic fracturing with respect to both the surface and groundwater contamination. Existing
outcomes on the topic fall within a broad spectrum. There have been some assessments that carefully
validate that hydraulic fracturing has no connection to groundwater or surface water contamination,
and that even the reduction of freshwater resources and that regulations are too stringent [
32
36
].
On the other hand, studies propose a definite interrelationship of hydraulic fracturing to groundwater
contamination and the depletion of freshwater resources and that the regulations are not strict
enough [
37
40
]. This paper will present a summary and evaluation of the environmental impacts of
hydraulic fracturing wastewater disposal or spills in shale or natural gas well reservoirs, with examples
from multiple basins. The basic objectives of this report are as follows: (i) summarize research
findings linking the impact of hydraulic fracturing operations on both surface and groundwater quality;
(ii) address specified case studies on operational incidents; and (iii) propose research findings for
possible solutions regarding the impact of operations.
2. Literature Review
There are five stages of the hydraulic fracturing water cycle (Figure 1) and each stage has its own
designated activity involving water that upholds hydraulic fracturing. The steps and major activities
include: (i) the first stage, to produce the fluid mixture for hydraulic fracturing, the systematic approach
Technologies 2020,8, 0067 3 of 17
of the withdrawal of water resources (groundwater and surface water) is called water acquisition;
(ii) chemical mixing is the second stage where the mixture of a water, proppant, and additives at
the fracturing well site is made for hydraulic fracturing; (iii) the third stage, which is called the well
injection stage, is where the hydraulic fracturing fluid is injected and the movement of the fluid is
monitored carefully when it goes toward the set rock formation; (iv) handling of produced water
where the on-site collection of water is maintained, particularly the handling and transportation
of water for reuse, recycle, and restoration as well as pipeline breaks during the produced water
transport can sometimes significantly contaminate the sources of water and nearby land resources;
and (v) wastewater disposal and reuse is the final stage where the disposal of produced water and the
hydraulic fracturing wastewater reusing activity is monitored. The last engineering step includes the
disposition of wastewater through underground injection, wastewater treatment supervised with reuse,
or whether it is in an allowable situation to discharge to surface waters or water bodies, and finally
continue with the disposal through percolation or evaporation pits [41].
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acquisition; (ii) chemical mixing is the second stage where the mixture of a water, proppant, and
additives at the fracturing well site is made for hydraulic fracturing; (iii) the third stage, which is
called the well injection stage, is where the hydraulic fracturing fluid is injected and the movement
of the fluid is monitored carefully when it goes toward the set rock formation; (iv) handling of
produced water where the on-site collection of water is maintained, particularly the handling and
transportation of water for reuse, recycle, and restoration as well as pipeline breaks during the
produced water transport can sometimes significantly contaminate the sources of water and nearby
land resources; and (v) wastewater disposal and reuse is the final stage where the disposal of
produced water and the hydraulic fracturing wastewater reusing activity is monitored. The last
engineering step includes the disposition of wastewater through underground injection, wastewater
treatment supervised with reuse, or whether it is in an allowable situation to discharge to surface
waters or water bodies, and finally continue with the disposal through percolation or evaporation
pits [41].
Figure 1. The five stages of the hydraulic fracturing water cycle and the consumptive and non-
consumptive water use for oil production [41,42].
Due to the consumptive and non-consumptive water use for oil production from the Bakken
shale potential water impacts, North Dakota is presented in Figure 1. It is evident that the impacts on
water resources could be affected due to the oil development through the possible ways: as a result
of poor well casing or wastewater storage design; hazardous chemicals and produced water will
infiltrate into the ground from evaporated or percolation pits in Stages I, II, and III; meanwhile, water
and land resources can be contaminated due to pipeline breaks during wastewater transportation;
untreated or unmanaged wastewater can contaminate receiving water bodies at Stage IV; and both
surface water and groundwater contamination can occur mainly due to surface spills as well as
leakage during treatment, storage, and treatment at Stage V and later on.
This paper only focused on the final stage of hydraulic fracturing, which impacts the wastewater
disposal on the environment. Impacts on drinking water resources is one of the key factors with
respect to the hydraulic fracturing process. Discharges of partially treated or sometimes totally
untreated wastewater into the surface and leaks, unwanted spills, and percolation affiliated with pits
cause major damage. Other components of impacts include improper and mismanagement of
handling residuals, sludge from the pits or tanks and leaching as well as runoff from different aspects
of wastewater practices regarding the hydraulic fracturing process. These directly affect the surface
and ground water contamination. Unlined pits and compromised liners cause major damage to the
environment. The constituents with the greatest attention with regard to the environmental impact
Figure 1.
The five stages of the hydraulic fracturing water cycle and the consumptive and
non-consumptive water use for oil production [41,42].
Due to the consumptive and non-consumptive water use for oil production from the Bakken shale
potential water impacts, North Dakota is presented in Figure 1. It is evident that the impacts on water
resources could be aected due to the oil development through the possible ways: as a result of poor
well casing or wastewater storage design; hazardous chemicals and produced water will infiltrate into
the ground from evaporated or percolation pits in Stages I, II, and III; meanwhile, water and land
resources can be contaminated due to pipeline breaks during wastewater transportation; untreated or
unmanaged wastewater can contaminate receiving water bodies at Stage IV; and both surface water
and groundwater contamination can occur mainly due to surface spills as well as leakage during
treatment, storage, and treatment at Stage V and later on.
This paper only focused on the final stage of hydraulic fracturing, which impacts the wastewater
disposal on the environment. Impacts on drinking water resources is one of the key factors with respect
to the hydraulic fracturing process. Discharges of partially treated or sometimes totally untreated
wastewater into the surface and leaks, unwanted spills, and percolation aliated with pits cause major
damage. Other components of impacts include improper and mismanagement of handling residuals,
sludge from the pits or tanks and leaching as well as runofrom dierent aspects of wastewater
practices regarding the hydraulic fracturing process. These directly aect the surface and ground
water contamination. Unlined pits and compromised liners cause major damage to the environment.
Technologies 2020,8, 0067 4 of 17
The constituents with the greatest attention with regard to the environmental impact in this paper
included total dissolved solids (TDS), methane contamination and salinity as well as several organic
and inorganic constituents of concern [3,40,4346].
The literature review provides findings and opinions on hydraulic fracturing with respect to both
the surface water and groundwater quality. The review of this literature utilizes peer-reviewed journal
articles, ocial websites, and government (e.g., the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) publications
to convey objective information on hydraulic fracturing impacts with respect to these topics. Multiple
tables have been created to explain the whole scenario of current hydraulic fracturing issues. The tables
were selected based on dierent variables, namely, state, year, informer, location, company owned,
source, reason, impact, and the level of impact. Incidents from Texas, Arkansas, Colorado, Michigan,
Wyoming, New Mexico, North Dakota, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and the other
states were also added to make this table. The data were collected for the years from 2007 to 2018.
Since thousands of companies have been involved in hydraulic fracturing activities, it is dicult to
obtain the available information of all the company’s wastewater disposal activities. However, from
the available data, founder or company names have been given in the tables.
3. Discussion
3.1. Impacts from Wastewater Disposal
Tables 1and 2represent a comprehensive scenario of the current hydraulic fracturing incidents.
The tables were selected based on dierent variables, namely, state, year, informer, location, company
owned, source, reason, impact, and the level of impact. The risks associated with the outstanding
utilization of the hydraulic fracturing process vary greatly from one state to another according to the
geology of the reservoir and the hydrogeological conditions of the overlying aquifer systems [
47
].
Informer names like the house owner or landowners were also added to the tables. The name of the
companies responsible for their well are also listed. Thousands of companies have been involved in
hydraulic fracturing activities, but it is dicult to obtain the available information of all the company’s
wastewater disposal activities. Many hydraulic fracturing companies have been banned while doing
their job and others have been given citations or warnings for the greater good. The reasons for the
problems faced in dierent states that have been reported are: contamination of drinking water, leaks of
storage ponds that were used for deep well injection, dumping a petroleum based product in the
stream, dumping toxic products in the stream, pit leaks, and corroded tanks, hundreds of oilfield spills
and thousands of waste disposals, hydraulic fracturing drilling, methane or stay gas contamination
due to the similar properties of methane products like ethane and propane contamination as well as a
high level of iron and the presence of manganese, etc.
The tables summarize the causes for the associated issues. Potential reasons are contamination
from hydraulic fracturing fluids consisting of salts and hazardous chemicals, contamination from
produced water constituents, aquifer contamination through natural gas drilling wells, leakage in
cement casings, abandoned wells with constituents left inside, deep inside the formation waters,
or produced water where gas and saline flows, and contamination through the leaking of fracturing
wells. The concentrations of benzene products like xylene and toluene are recorded in the table.
Gasoline and diesel products have a significant impact that is also addressed in the table. Methane,
ethane, dierent hydrocarbon products and byproducts, and after measuring the water quality, high pH
presence were also monitored and reported in the table.
Technologies 2020,8, 0067 5 of 17
Table 1. Ground water contamination.
Location Event Impact Level of Impact References
Center Ridge, Arkansas Dumping toxic products in
the stream (2008)
Water smelled bad, had sediment in it with color turning into
brown and the water pressure changed.
High salinity
(3500–25,600 mg/L) as
well as VOCs
[48]
Silt, Colorado
Well blow-out that makes
ground water contamination,
four nearby natural gas
wells (2001)
Wastewater from industry made the contamination on drinking
water during hydraulic fracturing, the color of the drinking water
turned into gray, reported to have a very strong smells, water
pressure was lost while having bubbles.
High salinity
(111,000–120,000 mg/L)
[20]
Huerfano County, Colorado
Pump house exploded,
methane seepage developing
from some wells
(11 natural-gas wells) within a
mile distance (2007)
Methane gas seepage arising from more than 11 natural-gas wells
less than a mile, Several trees like Cottonwood and Pinyon were
found dying, along meadowland; Divide creek, which is situated
in western Colorado runs along 60 acres of area,
was found bubbling.
Methane concentration
found 64 mg/L[49]
Las Animas County, Colorado
Production of Methane at an
escalating rate (2010)
Three monitor wells on the ranch on Las animus County are the
source of contamination, it had a history of running clear water
for years, now, it is reported that the water turned graying brown
with murky in about 500 gallons to be approximate.
The average
concentration of
methane was
28–35 mg/L
[50,51]
Granville Summit,
Pennsylvania
Significant increases of
methane, as well as
hydrocarbons like ethane,
propane, manganese and
iron (2012)
Clarity and color has changed dreadfully in water, drinking water
had reported to have a foul odor, not only that but also contained
prominent levels of methane gas, and might matured into volatile.
Furthermore, several properties near the creek began to witness
bubbling all around at their water.
High salinity
(60,000 mg/L) with
concentrated methane
(64 mg/L)
[52]
Bradford County,
Pennsylvania
Gas well Blew out, methane
and other contaminate
concentration was really high
in level (2011)
Ground water Contamination happened, tap water turned gray
and hazy, rashes at a very high level was seen with oozing blisters,
and due to the nausea and severe headaches, one poor child was
hospitalized for nosebleeds (torrential) which was for a long time
High salinity
(180,000 mg/L) with
concentrated toluene
110 mg/L
[53]
Susquehanna County,
Pennsylvania
Wastewater from wastewater
treatment well creates
methane gas contamination as
well as salt and chemical
contamination from
hydraulic fracturing
fluids and/or formational
waters (2010)
One child had neurological symptoms consistent with exposure
to toxic substances.
Methane concentration
>64 mg/L[53]
Bradford Township,
Pennsylvania
Due to brine spilled, drinking
water of at least seven families
has been contaminated (2009)
One household contained 2-Butoxyethanol or 2BE, a common
drilling chemical, which is known to have caused
tumors in rodents.
High Salinity
(150,000–180,000 mg/L)
[54]
Technologies 2020,8, 0067 6 of 17
Table 1. Cont.
Location Event Impact Level of Impact References
Hickory, Pennsylvania
After starting the Natural gas
well Drilling, Pipe
Blowout (2009)
Water became cloudy and foul-smelling. Measurement have
found, a chemical named Acrylonitrile which was used in
hydraulic fracturing process.
Methane concentration
>64 mg/L[55]
Bradford County,
Pennsylvania
Methane gas contamination
near the shallow aquifer that
started from the targeted shale
gas pattern through
leaking well casing (2010)
The color of Water turned black and developed into combustible
from the methane contamination
High Salinity
(60,000 mg/L) with
concentrated methane
(64 mg/L)
[56]
Wise County, Texas Pipe leaks, unlined pit (2010) Water became flammable
Methane concentration
34 mg/L[57]
Tarrant County, Texas Pipe Blowout, pit
malfunctioning (2010)
One of the property owner’s water turned significantly dark
black and presence sedimentation or sand has been observed pH found 5.6 [58]
Virginia
Shallow aquifer
contamination by
methane gas had spotted,
there was leaking in hydraulic
fracturing oil and gas wells
casing (2007)
Murky water with oily films had been noticed, black sediments,
methane, and diesel odors. Individuals experienced rashes
from showering
Methane concentration
ranges from
34–64 mg/L
[54]
Buchan, Virginia
Ground water contamination
by methane gas that begun
from
intermediate geological
formations through annulus
leaking of either
shale gas or conventional oil
and gas wells (2010)
Black sediments,
Methane and diesel odors.
pH reduces from 7.5 to
4.5 with a high salinity
60,000 mg/L
[58]
Dickenson, Virginia
Methane gas contamination of
injection wells through
leaking (2009)
Individuals experienced rashes from showering
Methane
contamination of
34 mg/L
[54]
Jackson County, West Virginia
Pipe Blowout, pit
malfunctioning, aquifer
contamination (2011)
The property owner informed of having “a peculiar smell and
taste” in their water and suering from the neurological
symptoms was reported by the parents as well as children
Chloride (Cl)
concentration
>60 mg/L
[58]
Marshall County,
West Virginia
Methane
Contamination (2010)
Fracturing well has reported getting some gas in it. Some families
also lost their source of drinking water in that well.
Concentrated methane
concentration found
34 mg/L
[58]
Small town of
Pavillion, Wyoming
Poor cementing and casing
leak (2011)
The color of the drinking water had turned black with a very bad
smell and taste, Individuals who admitted in hospitals reported
that the reason was water contamination.
Total Dissolved Solid
(TDS) >250,000 mg/L[28]
Technologies 2020,8, 0067 7 of 17
Table 2. Surface water contamination.
Location Event Impact Level of Impact References
Bee Branch, Arkansas
Significant drinking water
contamination in nearby fracturing
well (2008)
Domestic water found smelling really bad, water
color turned yellow as well as filled with silt
TDS =250–350 g/L and
salinity >35 g/L[59]
Pangburn, Arkansas
Drinking water contamination due to
natural gas well (2007)
Very light and kind of slick, water turned muddy
and contained particles and composed pieces
of leather.
Significant amount of Iron (Fe),
Manganese (Mn), Bromine (Br)
were found
[60]
Bee Branch, Arkansas
Nearby drilling well Leaks of
wastewater storage ponds that likely
were worked as a deep well
injection (2009)
Not only the water pressure changed but also the
drinking water significantly turned cloudy and
grey and had bad odors.
TDS =250–350 g/L and
salinity >35 g/L[59]
Center Ridge, Arkansas
Nearby natural gas well Dumping a
petroleum-based product in the
stream (2007)
Changes in water pressure had recorded and water
color turned red or orange and clay was observed
in it after hydraulic fracturing had started
TDS >400–600,000 mg/L and
salinity >35,000 mg/L[59]
Rapid River
Township, Michigan
Senske Well near the Rapid river area
had a significant change in static
water level ( lowered by around
11 feet) (2013)
People had to experience a drop in water pressure
as well as discolored water Benzene =0.01 mg/L, [59]
Seneca County, New York
Contamination of drinking water had
been noticed due to the unwanted
disposal of partially treated
wastewater to neighboring
streams (2007)
Water color turned grey and had a lot of sediments
in it
TDS >110,000–120,000 mg/L and
salinity >40,000 mg/L[61,62]
Allegany County, New York
Contamination of drinking water due
to the leaks found in the storage
ponds of hydraulic fracturing well
(2009)
The water turned “foamy, chocolate-brown”. TDS >110–120 g/L and
salinity >40 g/L[61,62]
North Dakota
There was a combustion activity in
one of the oil pitch in North Dakota,
Pit leaks and corroded tanks,
Hundreds of oilfield spills and
thousands of waste disposal (2011)
After hydraulic fracturing had started, serious
health symptoms not only in humans but also in
livestock and pets was noticed
TDS =300 g/L and salinity =47 g/L [63]
Bainbridge Township, Ohio
An blowout of a fracturing well and
because of that almost 22 drinking
water wells got contaminated (2007)
The frac communicated directly with the well bore
and was not confined within the “Clinton”
reservoir
Benzene =0.01–0.05 mg/L [61,62]
Technologies 2020,8, 0067 8 of 17
Table 2. Cont.
Location Event Impact Level of Impact References
Allegheny Township in
Potter County
Disposal of
inefficiently handled wastewater to the
nearby water bodies and inflation of
contaminant residues in hydraulic
fracturing drilling sites
Water turned brown Fe =22.3 mg/L,
Mn =15.8 mg/L[61,62]
Washington County,
Pennsylvania
Wastewater treatment well,
Contamination of drinking
water (2009)
Arsenic level was found at 2600 times than the
acceptable levels, on the other hand benzene level
was found at 44 times above the acceptance level,
naphthalene was found five times higher where
mercury and selenium were found significant
numbers than the allowable limits.
The level of arsenic was 2600 times
higher than the acceptable levels,
Benzene was 44 times higher,
naphthalene five times higher,
and last but not least, mercury and
selenium were also higher than the
ocial limits.
[59]
Gibbs Hill, Pennsylvania
Brine Spilled, the drilling company
had a poor management of
wastewater and spilled significantly
hydraulic fluids which contaminated
the water supply badly (2008)
Due to the spilled, the water had a serious strong
fumes, which made burning in peoples lungs and
mouths, sinuses even though after showering,
Strontium (Sr) =774 mg/L
Lead (Pb) =3.50 mg/L, [64,65]
Wise County, Texas
Hydraulic fracturing well was nearby
the two properties, who’s drinking
water got contaminated and after
having analyzed a carcinogen
compound benzene was found
double the acceptance level (2010)
The water was hurting people’s eyes during
showers, and some of their pets refused to drink
whenever they oer the water
Benzene =0.10 mg/L,
Toluene >5 mg/L[66]
Grandview, Texas
Surface water contamination, Water
testing found toluene and other
contaminants (2007)
Strong odor had been found with the change on
water pressure as well as skin irritation with
rashes and dead husbandry
TDS >400–600 g/L and
salinity >35 g/L[59]
Johnson County, Texas
It is reported that hydraulic
fracturing wells nearby Scoma home,
had benzene and petroleum
by-products which made the water
contaminated (2011)
Drinking water turned orange-yellow color, foul
odor with very bad taste
Toluene =5 mg/L,
Benzene =0.01 mg/L,
Xylene =15–20 mg/L
[67]
Technologies 2020,8, 0067 9 of 17
Table 2. Cont.
Location Event Impact Level of Impact References
South Texas, Texas
Surface water contamination, Surface
spills (2009)
Water pressure changing had observed by a
property owner as well as water color changes had
been noticed. Fish were dead, abnormal milk
production by husbandry as well as new born
babies with unusual birth signs
TDS >600 g/L and salinity >30g/L
pH reduces from 7.5 to 4.5
Conductance found >1500 mS/cm
[61,62]
Northeast, Texas
Blew out some casing, higher level of
benzene was fond which is also a
carcinogen element, 2010
Bad smell and discolored water had been observed
which smells like diesel Benzene =0.1–0.7 mg/L [61,62]
Texas
Drinking water contamination,
although the hydraulic fracturing
well was abandoned long ago (2011)
Drinking water became foamy, oily with bad odors
were reported
TDS >110–120,000 mg/L and
salinity >40,000 mg/L[61,62]
Johnson County, Texas
Carbon, Hydrocarbons as well as
diesel fuel elements was found in
surface waters where hydraulic
fracturing were performed nearby the
residents house
Foul odor with bad taste, slick to the touch and
oily feeling had been reported.
Pb =10.50 mg/L were present in
the water [68]
Denton County, Texas
This county had a significant surface
water contamination. After the
testing hazardous metals such as
Chromium, Calcium, Cobalt, Arsenic,
Lead, Manganese, Vanadium etc.
were found with high numbers than
the acceptable level (2008)
In 2008, it was reported that the water started to
contaminate soon after that county had permitted
to do hydraulic fracturing activity. Grey water
with sediment had noticed in the drinking water
sample
Cl =120,000 mg/L, Br =558 mg/L, Na
=45,000 mg/L, Mn =16.7 mg/L, Zn =
12.5 mg/L, Pb =0.6 mg/L, Fe =
19.2 mg/L
[63]
In Wetzel County
West Virginia:
Contamination of drinking water,
leaking (2010)
Residents had informed that there had been
unusual health symptoms such as mouth sore and
rashes with illness in their husbandry
TDS >250 g/L and salinity =30–40 g/L
[54,69]
Powers Lake, North Dakota Saline Wastewater, Brine spills (2016) Missouri River and lake gets contaminated TDS level =300.0 g/L and level of
salinity =47.0 g/L[63,70]
Technologies 2020,8, 0067 10 of 17
On the other hand, a significant amount of TDS, conductivity, pH, alkane products (methane,
ethane, and propane) have also been reported. The TDS content of produced water was recorded
as a seven times higher level of saline content than the usual seawater, although this depends
on the formation of the shale, which ranged below seawater (concentration around 25,000 mg/L).
Shale formations can have higher TDS values that can range by almost an order of magnitude [
71
73
].
Due to the leak, spills, and unwanted release of hypersaline content, the inorganic quality of
surface water becomes significantly contaminated. This incident is very common in the flowback and
produced water stage. The flowback and produced water brines consist of a higher concentration
of salts like chlorine and bromine. It also contained alkaline earth elements like barium, strontium,
etc. Metalloids like selenium, arsenic, etc. as well as radionuclides (e.g., radium) are also present
as a dangerous constituent of flowback and produced water. In the treated wastewater euent,
sometimes, the concentration of chemicals stayed at a higher level than anticipated. For example,
the concentrations of Cl, Br, Ca, Na, and Sr, which is considered as a major element, could vary
even a full length sampling of the two-year period [
74
]. The result could range up to a 6700 times
higher level than the concentrations previously measured upstream at the water body sites. In our
study, from Tables 1and 2, the chloride euent in wastewater concentrations ranged between
55,000 and 98,000 mg/L (around 2
5 times higher than the seawater concentration). Additionally,
major supervision is needed for epidemiological studies to determine the possible adverse health
eects of hydrogen fluoride [7579].
3.2. Potential Solutions and Future Directions
Given the highlighted risks regarding gas and oil development using hydraulic fracturing,
in the U.S., mitigation techniques are a major necessity to pinpoint, evaluate, and alleviate the possible
risks aliated with the procedures of transportation, wastewater handling, in site storage, and disposal
of drilling or fracturing related fluids that need to be in place. Hence, we scrutinized several conceivable
ideas that could be relevant to some of the addressed issues.
Methane gas contamination has been observed and mentioned in previous peer review journals,
where drinking water resources were aected the most in locations less than 1 km from the active
drilling sites [
60
]. Imposing a safe zone of 3 km (or around 2 miles) between future or already installed
shale gas and oil drilling sites and previously existing drinking water wells could mitigate the risk of
methane gas contamination. Second, there is always a toss-up situation in a sense as to whether shale
gas development is directly responsible for producing the methane gas in drinking water resources or
whether natural gas occurs naturally in the drinking water. Baseline monitoring should be addressed as
compulsory work in this particular case so that it can also be incorporated with geochemical techniques.
For example, collecting the data of major and trace components in surface and ground water, recording
the methane concentration accordingly, measuring the stable isotopes of methane for satisfactory
identification of the chemicals that are in use and the composition of isotopes for the regional or local
aquifers mainly in the areas of shale gas and oil development should be the priority. Chemistry of the
production gas, followed by the baseline data with data generation, must become accessible not only
to the researcher or scientific community, but also to the locals as well as used to assess the cases where
surface or ground water contamination has a higher possibility of occurring.
Third, data transparency and sharing, along with full acknowledgment of all the chemicals used
as hydraulic fracturing chemicals must be ensured to create an open space for scientifically discussion
of ideas and proper solutions that might mitigate future legal and social confusions. For the sake of
wastewater management, implementation of a zero liquid discharge policy for treated and untreated
produced wastewater and enforcing sucient wastewater treatment technologies might mitigate
surface and groundwater contamination. Best management practices have become a necessity for
establishing a variety of fracking operations and lengthy processes at natural oil and gas production
locations, which includes secondary containment management, fluid transfer or transportation,
waste collection, and unwanted or accidental spill control and cleanup.
Technologies 2020,8, 0067 11 of 17
Frac pad liners or containment pads, berms on hand, and fully covered storage units should be a
priority by creating a borderline to prevent the migration of fluid and sediment [
80
]. Spill containment
berms can easily be fit under leaking valves, storage vessels, and machinery. Oil-absorbing booms
can be handy for securing spills that might crack the boarders of frac pad liners or containment pads,
which can prevent spilling for a longer time if the property is ultra-violet resistant.
According to the case studies in the USA, transferring, disbursing, and blending chemicals develop
spill potential even though the containers are on the containment pads. Restricting the entrance of
workers and vehicles as well as leaving hydraulic fracturing drilling locations by capturing fracturing
liquid everywhere and generating slip hazards by cleaning minor spills with the containment decks
before these materials could be properly vacuumed. To boost the coverage and sump capacity, decks can
be used separately or connected to other decks or by expanding portable containment pools under
hose connections where leaks might occur as well as other locations to stop leaking. Pools can fill up
the leak quickly and some of these can hold more than 300 gallons [
80
]. This is very handy as most of
the pools can be dredged to be cleaned and restored for further use.
To reduce groundwater and drinking water contamination, waste and other chemicals at each
well location need to be perfectly handled. By using drum funnels, the violation of hazardous
waste regulations can be avoided. To collect non-bulk liquid waste drum funnels are good options.
These drum funnels can easily clamp to manage liquid containers whether it is closed and in compliance.
These funnels have extra vents that can regulate vapor emissions and really shorten the fluid transfer
time. There are some solid waste drums that have open head options, and using secure lids for these
can be used as a preventive measure as these drums can be opened and closed regularly. On the other
hand, lid gaskets maintain an unyielding seal and diminish volatile emissions.
To remove high amounts of TDS, mechanical vapor compression (MVC) is a very unique and
eective technology compared to other existing methods [
81
,
82
]. Desalination of produced water
by MVC minimizes the higher complexity of treatment and emissions of the waste stream [
82
].
This technique is very economical and can recover oil almost four times compared to the other
techniques [
83
]. Membrane distillation (MD) is another desalination technology that is specifically
suitable to desalinate higher salinity sources, especially produced water [
84
88
]. MD is an advanced
separation technique that separates the feed stream from the microporous membrane that is
hydrophobic [
85
,
86
]. To get the best out of MD, pre- and post-treatment steps should be maintained
and monitored carefully [
87
,
89
]. Forward osmosis (FO), which is a separation process, removes TDS
from the produced water [
90
,
91
]. Compared to the other existing technology, it is very advantageous
due to its osmotic pressure driven methodology [
92
]. FO membranes are good for removing TDS and
TOC from high salinity produced water [93].
In the membrane distillation process, a mixture of microbubble treatment after filtration was
tested as highly ecient for removing heavy metals [
56
,
94
96
], although pretreatment is necessary
before discharging the heavy and radioactive material to advanced treatment. The removal of radium
and metals such as calcium, barium, strontium, and barium has been proven by mixing the flowback
and produced water with acid mine drainage technology, and by doing so, precipitating newly
formed solids such as barite [
69
,
97
101
]. Arsenate and selenite can be removed by zero-valent iron
mechanism [102,103].
Biosorption on hydraulic fracturing water wastes and by-products has been analyzed as a
legitimate substitute to the current techniques practiced for hazardous and toxic metal ions and organic
nutrient removal from wastewater streams [
104
]. Sugarcane bagasse, rice husk, watermelon rind,
walnut tree sawdust, banana peels, etc. are some of the adsorbents that can be used to properly
remove heavy and toxic metals like Cu (II) Ni, Cd, and Pb [
105
,
106
]. On the other hand, sugarcane
bagasse, sawdust, wheat straw cotton stalk, and banana peel are good adsorbents to remove organics
and nutrients like gasoline, n-heptane, ammonia, phenol, and phosphate, etc. [
107
109
]. Another
lignocellulosic material, Spanish broom, has made a useful impression for the scientific community
as an adsorbent to remove mercury from contaminated water sources with a removal eciency of
Technologies 2020,8, 0067 12 of 17
86% [
104
,
110
112
]. Endocrine disrupting compounds, for example, Bisphenol-A, etc. can also be
removed using surface modified cellulose fibers [113].
4. Conclusions
Inconsistent reporting on how spills occur within a state will lead to contrasting decisions between
inquiries or studies because it varies from analyst to analyst. The hydraulic fracturing spill data
disclosed here are not necessarily covered by the integrated life span of the hydraulic fracturing well;
the spotlight is only on spills occurring near the fracturing well pads, during the transportation of
additives to a well pad, and the transportation of generated wastewater for disposal by truck or
injection lines. It is crucial to put the proper planning in the right place and for a mandatory supply of
materials or products ready to control and clean up the hydraulic fracturing spills. Downplaying the
spill response interim and scaling down the environmental and social impacts, while advancing and
closely maintaining spill prevention regulations and countermeasure planning to restrict releases to
nearby waterways. However, even after using the best hydraulic fracturing wastewater management
options, the severity as well as the frequency of the environmental impacts are unidentified and
unquantified. Characterization of wastewater and sampling has to be done in a significant way so
that it can resolve the concerns of the analyst. The amount of wastewater generated and its proper
nature requires a necessary careful consideration of handling, after extraction treatment, reuse, recycle,
or disposal to secure water bodies and water resources. Decisive and persistent waste generation data
collection and baseline data reporting for researchers and the public should be accessible for the greater
good. Along with improved endeavors to define and characterize the quality of wastewater for both
treated and untreated samples, methodical and ecient monitoring exercises should be practiced to
detect the impacts on drinking water resources.
Author Contributions:
Conceptualization, M.M.S.Y. and M.T.A.; Methodology, M.M.S.Y.; Software, M.M.S.Y.;
Validation, M.M.S.Y., M.T.A., I.J., and M.M.; Formal analysis, M.M.S.Y.; Investigation, M.M.S.Y.; Resources, M.T.A.;
Data curation, M.M.S.Y.; Writing—original draft preparation, M.M.S.Y. and M.T.A.; Writing—review and editing,
I.J. and M.M.; Visualization, M.M.S.Y.; Supervision, M.M.S.Y.; Project administration, M.M.S.Y. and M.T.A.;
Funding acquisition, M.M.S.Y., M.T.A., I.J., and M.M. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of
the manuscript.
Funding: This research received no external funding.
Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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