Using oil and gas wastewater as dust suppressants on roadways may or may not be an environment-friendly option. A study will soon study how contaminants from wastewater get transported to nearby water resources and their impact.
The concern rose in northwest Pennsylvania where the expansion of natural gas production leads to a lot of oil and gas wastewater. The only legal way for companies to dispose of this waste is to use it as dust suppressant and deicing agent on local dirt and gravel roadways. This also serves as a cost effective way for both companies and municipality. But concern has grown over the flow of contaminants in this wastewater to water resources.
With help from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the Center for Dirt and Gravel Roads at Penn State, and local Pennsylvania municipalities, the researchers will collect oil and gas wastewater samples. These will then be characterized for salts, metals, organics, and radium. Further, these liquids will be reacted with road aggregate to resolve how contaminants travel to nearby water resources.
After this, the researchers will use distilled deionized water to understand what exactly is transported into the resulting liquid. This will help them in understanding the impact of those contaminants.