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Texas moves ahead on discharging oil wastewater, even as EPA balks

"Environmental officials in Texas and other western states are moving ahead on plans to allow oil and gas companies to treat drilling wastewater and discharge it into rivers and streams, even as the Trump administration balks at endorsing the practice amid widespread questions about public health effects."

What can one say?  If the TRUMP era EPA has doubts about the wisdom of this method of disposal of wastewater, then it must be serious. 

"Historically, the wastewater is pumped thousands of feet underground into what are known as injection wells as to not contaminate drinking water."

"But with injection wells identified as the cause of earthquakes and some heavily drilled areas, such West Texas, reaching geological limits for storing the wastewater, both the industry and regulators have sought other solutions."

"Last year, the Texas Legislature passed a bill ordering the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to apply to EPA for authority to permit the discharge of oil and gas wastewater into state waterways before September 2021. And despite the EPA report, the agency is moving ahead, said Brian McGovern, a TCEQ spokesman."

They have "only" known about this problem for 50+ years. Yet here they go, taking the path of least resistance, least expense, least environmental responsibility.

Finally, and here is the crux of the matter:

But there is little science showing that the technology can safely treat oil field wastewater, which is not only highly saline - containing up to 10 times more salt than sea water - but also contains a catalogue of chemicals, both naturally occurring and manmade.

Scientists consulted by the EPA warned of “knowledge gaps” around produced water, pointing out that they don’t even have a full catalogue of all the chemicals it contains.

“There’s only a limited number of chemicals in produced water we know the toxicity of. There are so many issues that need to be dealt with before we can even talk about using produced water outside the oil field,” Gilinsky said “Put aside drinking water (for people). What effect does it have on livestock?”

Nevertheless, it looks like full speed ahead is the order of the day. Damn the torpedoes.  ...not to mention uncontrolled leaking, venting and flaring of natural gas. 

Mark Silverstone's picture

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