There’s interesting news at The Marcellus Effect blog about a company that wants to set up in Owego, New York to treat expended hydrofracking flowback fluid.  According to the report,

Patriot Water, LLC hopes to establish a treatment facility … The business, they say, will treat hydraulic fracturing flowback fluid and transform it into “distilled water” which can be re-used by gas drillers for further fracking.

and a

Patriot Water representative, insisted  …  the 200,000 to 240,000 gal/day of frack fluid they’ll process is not toxic. “It’s just water with a small portion of heavy metals and brine,” he said …

It seems to me there’s a need for the people of Owego, as well as those investing in Patriot Water, LLC, to consider some other information here.  First, water is heavy to truck around (62.4 pounts a cubic foot), and moving it in, and then moving it out, will be quite expensive.  The gas companies will be making money, and could pay for this service, perhaps, but it seems they would also have their own facilities on-site for such treatment, inasmuch as they have the idea of reusing flowback water at the wells, for continued fracking at a site.  Are there similar businesses operating elsewhere that provide this service?  I wonder what their business plan looks like.

Chemical constituents is another big issue.  See “Chapter 2: Water-Related Issues Associated with Gas Production in the Marcellus Shale,” here (part of the voluminous “Technical Consulting Reports Prepared in Support of the Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement for Natural Gas Production in New York State,” available here).  The list of possible flowback constituents is a very long one, and includes a lot of things of potential concern, such as tetrachloroethylene, xylenes, ethyl benzene, cyanide, cadmium, cesium, and radium, to name a few.

There’s a need for some regulatory research to learn if this material might be classifiable as a hazardous waste.  (It may well depend upon certain test results.)  Also, there will be residuals from this treatment.  That is, it will probably produce liquid and solid wastes.  What might end up in these waste streams, which will have concentrated many flowback constituents,  and how will they will be managed, seem to be  important, up-front issues to consider.


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