Why isn't anyone talking about this? Or am I not looking in the right places? And by the way, duh.
Gas drilling in Appalachia yields a foul byproduct
Map shows the Marcellus Shale formation in the Eastern U.S. (P. Prengaman — AP)
By MARC LEVY and VICKI SMITH
The Associated Press
Tuesday, February 2, 2010; 2:40 PM
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A drilling technique that is beginning to unlock staggering quantities of natural gas underneath Appalachia also yields a troubling byproduct: powerfully briny wastewater that can kill fish and give tap water a foul taste and odor.
With fortunes, water quality and cheap energy hanging in the balance, exploration companies, scientists and entrepreneurs are scrambling for an economical way to recycle the wastewater.
"Everybody and his brother is trying to come up with the 11 herbs and spices," said Nicholas DeMarco, executive director of the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association.
Drilling crews across the country have been flocking since late 2008 to the Marcellus Shale, a rock bed the size of Greece that lies about 6,000 feet beneath New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio. Geologists say it could become the most productive natural gas field in the U.S., capable of supplying the entire country's needs for up to two decades by some estimates.
Before that can happen, the industry is realizing that it must solve the challenge of what to do with its wastewater. As a result, the Marcellus Shale in on its way to being the nation's first gas field where drilling water is widely reused.
The polluted water comes from a drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," in which millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals are blasted into each well to fracture tightly compacted shale and release trapped natural gas. Read more.