The New York Times continues its vendetta against drilling in the Marcellus Shale—it sells papers and God knows they sell far fewer today than they did even a year ago. MDN wonders what made-up quotes pulled from past public statements adorn this new article? The theme of the new article: “Yes, yes, drilling companies say they’re recycling more wastewater (some even approaching 100 percent), but not all of them do! And even recycling produces nasty stuff that pollutes water supplies anyway. So pay no attention to all that recycling talk.” And of course, Pennsylvania continues to be the whipping boy.
Here’s a few pickings from yesterday’s article:
In Pennsylvania, for example, natural-gas companies recycled less than half of the wastewater they produced during the 18 months that ended in December, according to state records.
Nor has recycling eliminated environmental and health risks. Some methods can leave behind salts or sludge highly concentrated with radioactive material and other contaminants that can be dangerous to people and aquatic life if they get into waterways.
Some well operators are also selling their waste rather than paying to dispose of it. Because it is so salty, they have found ready buyers in communities that spread it on roads for de-icing in the winter and for dust suppression in the summer. When ice melts or rain falls, the waste can run off roads and end up in the drinking supply.*
And this supposed quote from someone in the wastewater recycling industry in PA:
One executive at a drilling wastewater recycling company said that for all the benefits of recycling, it was not a cure-all.
“No one wants to admit it, but at some point, even with reuse of this water, you have to confront the disposal question,” said Brent Halldorson, chief operating officer of Aqua-Pure/Fountain Quail Water Management, adding that the wastewater contains barium, strontium and radioactive elements that need to be removed.
Mr. Halldorson emphasized that he had not seen high radioactivity readings at the plant he operates in Williamsport, Pa. He said he firmly believed in the benefits of recycling — to reduce the waste produced and water used and to help promote a shift toward natural gas, which burns cleaner than coal for producing electricity. “But there still needs to be a candid discussion, and there needs to be accountability about where even the recycled wastewater is going,” he added.*
The problem is, we don’t know for sure whether or not Mr. Halldorson actually uttered the above statements to the Times, given their rather low journalistic ethical standards (e.g. running quotes in a previous article from former PA DEP Secretary John Hanger when he says he was never interviewed by the NYT for the article).
Just to be sure readers don’t miss the point, we get this lovely imagery:
State [Pennsylvania] and company records show that in the year and a half that ended in December 2010, well operators reported recycling at least 320 million gallons. But at least 260 million gallons of wastewater were sent to plants that discharge their treated waste into rivers, out of a total of more than 680 million gallons of wastewater produced, according to state data posted Tuesday. Those 260 million gallons would fill more than 28,800 tanker trucks, a line of which would stretch from about New York City to Richmond, Va.*
Imagine that—28,800 tanker trucks filled with poison lined up and ready to dump it right into your drinking water supplies. And plenty more monsters in the closet in this article. Grab a cup of coffee (but watch out! it may be contaminated water from those nasty drillers), and read the article for yourself.
*New York Times (Mar 1) – Wastewater Recycling No Cure-All in Gas Process