Reusing Wastewater

March 1, 2011

As many of you know, the drilling for natural gas is highly detrimental to the environment. When drilling for natural gas, companies will flood wells with millions of gallons of water to help bring the gas out of the underground shales. this process does not only waste millions of gallons of water, but the water that is returned to the surface is riddled with radioactive agents, salts and many other toxic or carcinogenic agents that are harmful not only to the environment but the human body as well. A new process developed in Pennsylvania however, is calling for a revamp of the entire natural gas drilling community. With the lack of fresh water available in Pennsylvania, the well companies have now started recycling their water and reusing t to help mine for more gas.  This new process will make many people happy but it does not change the fact that when sending water down the mines to the underground shale, only about 35% of it actually returns back to the surface and can be recycled.  Although this technology is being hailed as revolutionary, it is simply making the public turn a blind eye to the issue at hand. No matter how much water you recycle, you are still going to have to deal with the by-products in the water, and waste water that cannot be  recycled any longer. The natural gas companies started selling the waste water to local municipalities as a cheap way to de-ice their town roads in winter. The waste water had such a high concentration of salt, that it worked perfectly as a de-icer, but the communities refused to look at the larger picture. As the snow melted and the water run off began to dissipate, all the harmful agents carried in the waste water salt mixture have once again gone into our water table, actually hurting the local communities more. There is nothing we can do right now though because the government, national and local, have  no guidelines on how to handle the wastewater of even how to dispose of it safely.  I feel that natural gas mining needs to be tested more thoroughly and better technology needs to be developed before we start capturing natural gas on an even larger scale.


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