Assessment of effluent contaminants from three facilities discharging marcellus shale wastewater to surface waters in pennsylvania.
Environ Sci Technol. 2013 Apr 2 ;47(7):3472-81. Epub 2013 Mar 14. PMID: 23458378
Center for Healthy Environments and Communities (CHEC), Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH), University Of Pittsburgh , 4200 Fifth Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15260.
Unconventional natural gas development in Pennsylania has created a new wastewater stream. In an effort to stop the discharge of Marcellus Shale unconventional natural gas development wastewaters into surface waters, on May 19, 2011 the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) requested drilling companies stop disposing their wastewater through wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). This research includes a chemical analysis of effluents discharged from three WWTPs before and after the aforementioned request. The WWTPs sampled included two municipal, publicly owned treatment works and a commercially operated industrial wastewater treatment plant. Analyte concentrations were quanitified and then compared to water quality criteria, including U.S. Environmental Protection Agency MCLs and"human health criteria."Certain analytes including barium, strontium, bromides, chlorides, total dissolved solids, and benzene were measured in the effluent at concentrations above criteria. Analyte concentrations measured in effluent samples before and after the PADEP's request were compared for each facility. Analyte concentrations in the effluents decreased in the majority of samples after the PADEP's request (p<.05). This research provides preliminary evidence that these and similar WWTPs may not be able to provide sufficient treatment for this wastewater stream, and more thorough monitoring is recommended.