RRC allows produced WASTE water releases 4 free if for ag or watering wildlife – no NORM testing required!

Screen shot 2016-01-03 at 3.22.15 PM

CHK pic of east Ft Worth SWD well

update here is a RRC website admit they use drilling waste for road base…lovely!

My cliff note to readers in this blog is that before Barnett Shale operators switch from injecting produced water to disposal wells to discharging it into the environment…we need to include NORM as one of the screening parameters…..especially in light of the UTA Clear study just released, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969715312389, where they found a correlation between the location/density of fracked gaswells in the Barnett Shale to higher Beryllium (radionuclide) levels.

Back in 2007 Texas Sharon blogged….


In Oklahoma due to frackquakes, Associated Press reported “Over the past year, agency directives resulted in 197 wastewater disposal wells reducing the depth of their operations and 14 wells reducing disposal volumes by half, according to the commission”.

Update 1/4/15 here is the EPA’s response to my question about the screening for NORM on the releasing of produced waters…. note I boldfaced for emphasis…

—– Forwarded Message —–
From: kim feil <kimfeil@sbcglobal.net>
To: Ph.D. Avner Vengosh ; Buzz Pishkur <buzz.pishkur@arlingtontx.gov>; Zacariah Hildenbrand
Sent: Monday, January 4, 2016 12:21 PM
Subject: EPA says Region 6’s radionuclides are NOT of concern in discharging produced waters
FYI, the EPA knows best?
—– Forwarded Message —–
From: “Wilson, Scott” <Wilson.Js@epa.gov>
To: “kimfeil@sbcglobal.net” <kimfeil@sbcglobal.net>
Cc: “Eby, Louis” <Eby.Louis@epa.gov>; “Larsen, Brent” <Larsen.Brent@epa.gov>
Sent: Monday, January 4, 2016 12:02 PM
Subject: RE: Hereis RRC TX list/ Region 6 Q on releasing produced water from O&G operations


Ms. Feil:
Thanks for sending this (RRC screening constituents list) information.  It helps clarify more specifically what you are interested in understanding. 
Based on the information in your email, it appears that the Texas Railroad Commission does not always require radionuclide monitoring for their state permits.  It is important to note that any operator wishing to discharge pollutants to Waters of the united States would need to obtain an NPDES permit in addition to any permits required by the state.  In Texas NPDES permits for the oil and gas extraction industry are issued by EPA Region 6.  You may wish to contact the Railroad Commission to learn more about their state permitting requirements.
The two main permits the EPA issued that authorize produced water discharges in Texas are the Texas Coastal general permit and the Texas Territorial Seas general permit.  When those permits were issued we examined radionuclide data and determined that the concentrations were too low to warrant permit limits or additional monitoring requirements. 
I have copied Brent Larsen, who is the NPDES permits Section Chief in Region 6.  Brent may know of other actions or be able to give you other contacts for this issue.
Please let me know if you have additional questions.
Scott Wilson
Energy Permitting Coordinator
Industrial Permits Branch
USEPA Office of Wastewater Management
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20460
Mail Code: 4203m

—– Forwarded Message —–

From: “Wilson, Scott” <Wilson.Js@epa.gov>
To: “kimfeil@sbcglobal.net” <kimfeil@sbcglobal.net>
Cc: “Eby, Louis” <Eby.Louis@epa.gov>
Sent: Monday, January 4, 2016 8:44 AM
Subject: RE: Region 6 Q on releasing produced water from O&G operations

Ms. Feil:

Your question regarding monitoring of oil and gas extraction produced water was relayed to me as I have worked on those regulatory issues for a number of decades.

Monitoring of pollutants in produced water is only required under Federal law in those cases where it is authorized to be discharged to Waters of the United States.  Produced water is not typically allowed to be discharged from oil and gas wells located onshore.  There are, however, two exceptions under the regulations.  Produced water from some wells located in the western United States can be discharged if it is on good enough quality to be used by agriculture or wildlife.  Also, produced water can be discharged from some marginally economic wells, called stripper wells, if they produce less than 10 barrels of oil per day.  There are very few stripper wells authorized to discharge, and those are mostly located in south Texas.  Likewise, there are a limited number of wells that can meet the agriculture and wildlife exemption and discharge.  Those wells are mostly located in Wyoming.    

There is no regulation that specifically lists pollutants such as radionuclides that must be monitored for those produced water discharges.  In those cases where discharges have been authorized, the permitting authority has required data deemed necessary to ensure compliance with state water quality standards.  In most cases, that has included analysis of metals, radionuclides, and various salts.  In cases where produced water is potentially used to water cattle, pollutants that may affect the health of the cattle are examined, such as sulfate.

Hopefully this information has been helpful.  Please let me know if you have additional questions.

Scott Wilson

Energy Permitting Coordinator

Industrial Permits Branch

USEPA Office of Wastewater Management

1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Washington, DC 20460


Mail Code: 4203m

—————–end update————————

At first I was gonna blog about what is in a 30 mile radios of the east Ft Worth Salt Water Disposal Injection Well (see pics) after reading a ScienceDaily.com report 

“Wastewater disposal may trigger quakes at greater distance than previously thought”.

So I went looking for the map of the injection wells in the DFW area and found this Chesapeake presentation   on Class II injection wells.

Screen shot 2016-01-03 at 3.23.47 PMScreen shot 2016-01-03 at 3.23.55 PM

In their presentation they reported that Texas has over 1/3 of the United States injection wells of which 20% of those (approx. 18,000) are salt water disposal injection wells. I jumped to the bottom of the report where one of four conclusions stated…“Brine disposal in Class II wells is safe, environmentally sound and is the most economically viable option in most areas”. 
After laughing about that knowing the seismicity problems Oklahoma is having with injection wells, I got side tracked when I went to the Railroad Commission (RRC) in Texas’ website (they regulate the oil & gas industry). I found their link for instructions for an…

Application for a Permit to Discharge Produced Water to Inland Waters

…wtf?…..DISCHARGE (“treated”) produced waters (self-report ya’ll- self tested*  ya’ll!)…..my mouth dropped wide open at the end of the instructions…

12. “….total application fee will now be $750. If the discharged water will not reach surface waters of the State or the discharge point is west of the 98th meridian and the water is for agriculture or wildlife use, the fee is not required. If the fee is applicable, checks or money orders should be made payable to “Railroad Commission of Texas”. Please do not send cash through the mail. This fee is an application fee and is not refundable even if your application is returned, withdrawn, or denied. If the fee is not applicable, a statement indicating the reason the fee does not apply to your application must be provided. 

13. Please provide a statement as to whether the water is for agricultural or wildlife use.

14. You must certify the application as follows:

“I certify that I am authorized to make this application, that this application was prepared by me or under my supervision and direction, and that the data and facts stated herein are true, correct, and complete to the best of my knowledge.


Then I read a stipulation…

“If your facility is east of the 98th meridian, a permit from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may be required for a discharge to surface waters under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). Contact EPA Region 6 (http://www.epa.gov/region6/) in Dallas for more information”.

The EPA has it’s own lil’ application too…see this link here.

In the past I shockingly blogged about the operators being able to discharge mud/land farming drilling mud and was already freaked out about that…but I DID NOT KNOW they could discharge treated produced waters verses having to use those injection wells (if they were west of the 98th meridian).

Now this blog is about the self-reporting, industry trusting, jar dropping way potentially toxic waters can be release and the craziest part of this is that …

*the self-testing portion has criteria that does NOT include NORM.

I repeat…

*the self-testing portion has criteria that does NOT include NORM.

I was told how expensive it is to test for radioactivity in water monitoring and the closest the RRC got to radionuclides was Barium…per wiki, Barium’s radioactivity is so weak that they pose no danger to life.

I looked at what the ATSDR said about Cadmium, but they say …“is an element. Its most abundant naturally-occurring isotope is non-radioactive”.

Why didn’t the RRC make them test for NORM or TENORM (technological enhanced NORM by mans hand) constituents such as what wiki says is radium and radon..

“Radium radionuclides emit alpha and beta particles as well as gamma rays. The radiation emitted from a radium 226 atom is 96% alpha particles and 4% gamma rays. The alpha particle is not the most dangerous particle associated with NORM. Alpha particles are helium nuclei. Alpha particles travel short distances in air, of only 2–3 cm, and cannot penetrate through a dead layer of skin on the human body. However, some radium alpha particle emitters are “bone seekers” due to radium possessing a high affinity for chloride ions. In the case that radium atoms are not expelled from the body, they concentrate in areas where chloride ions are prevalent, such as bone tissue. The half-life for radium 226 is approximately 1,620 years, and will remain in the body for the lifetime of the human — a significant length of time to cause damage.

Beta particles are high energy electrons or positrons. They are in the middle of the scale in terms of ionizing potential and penetrating power, being stopped by a few millimeters of plastic. This radiation is a small portion of the total emitted during radium 226 decay. Radium 228 emits beta particles, and is also a concern for human health through inhalation and ingestion. Beta particles are electrons or positrons and can travel farther than alpha particles in air.

The gamma rays emitted from radium 226, accounting for 4% of the radiation, are harmful to humans with sufficient exposure. Gamma rays are highly penetrating and some can pass through metals, so Geiger counters or a scintillation probe are used to measure gamma ray exposures when monitoring for NORM”.

I asked the the CITY OF ARLINGTON to assist (DUKE UNIVERSITY OFFERED!) with helping to get NORM testing of our Barnett Shale produced water a couple of month ago and again NO RESPONSE from our city leaders.

When Arlington TX had a spill near the LABC church and a densely populated neighborhood I blogged complaining that no one tested for NORM then!.

Here is the RRC self test/self reporting criteria before releasing produced waters in Texas (west of the 98th meridian).

Screen shot 2016-01-03 at 2.37.27 PMScreen shot 2016-01-03 at 2.37.41 PM


Screen shot 2016-01-03 at 4.59.29 PM

GAO report on produced water constituents page 12

And besides not asking for NORM or TENORM the RRC also doesn’t ask the frackers to test for any of the nasties found on the Frac Focus Chemical Disclosure Registry either…remember those are top-secret…

Screen shot 2016-01-03 at 5.03.31 PM

note biocides appear on the Frc Focus registry…also note some relatively good news? that the Barnett Shale has LESS radon than here in the northeast…but how much less????

Screen shot 2016-01-03 at 5.04.19 PM

GAO page 13 note: some more better news is that gas wells have 5 times less contaminated water than oil wells, but 5 times less than what?

OK the GOOD news for now is that the frackers like to inject rather than treat and discharge cause FOR NOW its cheaper……

The Government Accountability Office  GAO says that “Oil and gas producers can choose from a number of practices to manage and treat produced water, but underground injection is the predominant practice because it requires little or no treatment and is often the least costly option. According to federal estimates, more than 90 percent of produced water is managed by injecting it into wells that are designated to receive produced water. A limited amount of produced water is disposed of or reused by producers in other ways, including discharging it to surface water, storing it in surface impoundments or ponds so that it can evaporate, irrigating crops, and reusing it for hydraulic fracturing. Managing produced water in these ways can require more advanced treatment methods, such as distillation. How produced water is ultimately managed and treated is primarily an economic decision, made within the bounds of federal and state regulations”.

The BAD news is that AS SEISMICITY begins to LIMIT the use of some injection wells, the frackers may need to start treating the waters and discharging them so we need to get NORM on the RRC’s list before that happens…as in Oklahoma, they are already starting to limit some injection wells…..

Screen shot 2016-01-04 at 4.19.46 PM

On page 4 of the GAO report in the footnotes, know that the incentive to get off of fossil fuels is a tuff one… “The federal government issues leases for federal lands and waters to oil and gas operators who in turn pay royalties to the government on the oil and gas they produce. These royalty payments totaled approximately $9 billion in 2009”.

BTW in case U R curious, here is a map of our 98th meridian…

Screen shot 2016-01-03 at 3.54.18 PM

link to pic


Please help by contacting your local, state and federal representatives, thank you.

Screen shot 2016-01-03 at 6.25.00 PM

And here is a letter I like to always end most of my blogs with so my kids know one day I tried…

—– Forwarded Message —–
From: kim feil <kimfeil@sbcglobal.net>
To: “eby.louis@epa.gov” <eby.louis@epa.gov>
Sent: Sunday, January 3, 2016 4:56 PM
Subject: Region 6 Q on releasing produced water from O&G operations
Where is the list of constituents of contaminants that is required to be screened for prior to being allowed to release treated produced water from the Oil and Gas Industry into the environment and or water ways?
Specifically looking to see if NORM is covered/screened for.
Kim Feil

About Kim Triolo Feil

Since TX Statute 253.005 forbids drilling in heavily settled municipalities, I unsuccessfully ran for City Council Seat to try to enforce this. Since Urban Drilling, our drinking water has almost tripled for TTHM's. Before moving to Arlington in 1990, I lived in Norco’s “cancer alley”, a refinery town. It was only after Urban Drilling in Arlington did I start having health effects. After our drill site was established closest to my home, the chronic nosebleeds started. I know there are more canaries here in Arlington having reactions to our industrialized airshed (we have 55-60 padsites of gas wells). Come forward and report to me those having health issues especially if you live to the north/northwest of a drill site so I can map your health effects on this blog. My youtube account is KimFeilGood. FAIR USE NOTICE: THIS SITE MAY CONTAIN COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL THE USE OF WHICH HAS NOT ALWAYS BEEN SPECIFICALLY AUTHORIZED BY THE COPYRIGHT OWNER. MATERIAL FROM DIVERSE AND SOMETIMES TEMPORARY SOURCES IS BEING MADE AVAILABLE IN A PERMANENT UNIFIED MANNER, AS PART OF AN EFFORT TO ADVANCE UNDERSTANDING OF THE SOCIAL JUSTICE ISSUES ASSOCIATED WITH EMINENT DOMAIN AND THE PRIVATIZATION OF PUBLIC INFRASTRUCTURE (AMONG OTHER THINGS). IT IS BELIEVED THAT THIS IS A 'FAIR USE' OF THE INFORMATION AS ALLOWED UNDER SECTION 107 OF THE US COPYRIGHT LAW. IN ACCORDANCE WITH TITLE 17 USC SECTION 107, THE SITE IS MAINTAINED WITHOUT PROFIT FOR THOSE WHO ACCESS IT FOR RESEARCH AND EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES. FOR MORE INFORMATION, SEE: HTTP://WWW.LAW.CORNELL.EDU/ TO USE MATERIAL REPRODUCED ON THIS SITE FOR PURPOSES THAT GO BEYOND 'FAIR USE', PERMISSION IS REQUIRED FROM THE COPYRIGHT OWNER INDICATED WITH A NAME AND INTERNET LINK AT THE END OF EACH ITEM. (NOTE: THE TEXT OF THIS NOTICE WAS ALSO LIFTED FROM CORRIDORNEWS.BLOGSPOT.COM)
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