Disinfection of Energy Wastewater Can Lead to Toxic Byproducts Press Release by USGS, September 4, 2013
Wastewater treatment plants that process waters from oil and gas development were found to discharge elevated levels of toxic chemicals known as brominated disinfection byproducts, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey. Disinfection byproducts are created by chemical reactions when water is disinfected. Of the hundreds of known, or suspected, disinfection byproducts possibly created by disinfection processes, the brominated forms are among the most toxic. … Waters that are co-produced when oil and gas resources are extracted from deep geological formations are commonly called produced waters. Produced waters are composed of naturally occurring materials characteristic of the geologic formations in which they originate. Often, the water in these formations is a brine with high concentrations of bromide, iodide, and other ions such as sodium and chloride.
Produced waters can originate from unconventional (e.g. hydraulic fracturing) and conventional oil and gas extractions. Management of produced waters includes a variety of methods, such as recycling, road spreading, deep-well injection, and processing by wastewater treatment plants. Several different types of brominated disinfection byproducts can be created when produced waters with high levels of bromide are disinfected. … The study examined river water samples downstream from the discharges of publicly-owned and commercial wastewater treatment plants that were processing produced waters with high levels of naturally occurring bromide. These samples were compared with water just upstream of the plants and with samples from wastewater treatment plants that did not process produced waters from oil and gas development. The water was examined for 29 different disinfection byproducts, including brominated and non-brominated disinfection byproducts. The brominated disinfection byproducts were detected more frequently and at much higher levels in river water impacted by disinfected produced waters than at other sites. The study is entitled “Discharges of produced waters from oil and gas extraction via wastewater treatment plants are sources of disinfection by-products to receiving streams,” and is published in Science of the Total Environment. The study may be accessed online.
Hladik, M.L., Focazio, M.J. and Engle, M., 2014. Discharges of produced waters from oil and gas extraction via wastewater treatment plants are sources of disinfection by-products to receiving streams: Science of the Total Environment, v. 466-467, p. 1085-1093, doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2013.08.008.
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