Bromide linked to oil/gas “brines”

Dr. Conrad Voltz, formerly of the Center for Environmental Health and Justice at U Pitt, testified in front of a Senate subcomittee today.   (4/11/11)

From a study he and his students did at a treatment plant that only handled “brine” from oil and gas operations in Pennsylvania, they found amongst 8 other effluents at levels that exceed standards:

Bromide, which forms mixed chloro-bromo byproducts in water treatment
facilities that have been linked to cancer and other health problems were found in
effluent at 10,688 times the levels generally found acceptable as a background in
surface water.

On March 7, 2011 Melody Kight at SUNY-ESF presented the initial
findings of her research on identifying flowback fluid contamination.

“It’s very difficult to distinguish” the source of elevated chlorides
in well or surface water, whether they’re from road salt, frack fluid,
or other sources of NaCl (salt).  Her studies indicate that the Na:Cl
ratio is at approximately 1:1 in all of them.  Therefore, a different
ratio must be used to “fingerprint” frack fluid contamination.

Parker in 1978 characterized Appalachian Basin formation brine.  He
found that as NaCl precipitates out of solution, bromide remains
dissolved in the brine.

Therefore, Ms. Kight rationalized, the Br:Cl ratio is the key.  Her
studies, using water samples from the PADEP and various calculating
and modeling software, showed that salty water from frack fluid and
from other sources have different Br:Cl ratios.

Bromide has a 0.01 mg/L detection limit.  Ms. Kight calculated that a
solution contaminated with as little as 0.0015% frack fluid could be
fingerprinted in this way.

Ms. Kight is known to be a vocal supporter of natural gas drilling, but her research may prove useful.  Landowners should ensure their water, both pre- and post- drilling, has been checked for bromide.

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