California is known for its climate and environmental policy. Thus, the fact that the oil and gas industry allows for the storage of wastewater produced during excavation and excavation began in the early 1900s.
Researchers now say that California’s $ 111 billion oil and gas industry has failed to control how it manages wastewater.
In 50 years, a study published this month by Environmental Science and Technology shows that oil and gas producers dump more than 16 billion barrels of water in unfiltered clay ponds, releasing large amounts of pollutants into groundwater.
“California will be the only state to allow this elimination process, which has been going on for more than 100 years,” said Dominic Digilio, lead researcher at the Institute for Health Energy Research, Scientific and Policy Research Institute for Physicians, Scientists and Engineers (PSE). “You have to ask, why does California still allow it?”
Ninety-nine percent of these unfilled ponds are located in the Tulare Basin, California Oil and Gas Industry Center, and the southern tip of the San Joaquin Valley, the state’s most productive agricultural region.
A.D. Between 1900 and 1980, more than 5.9 billion barrels of water, with 15 million tons of salt loaded in unfilled ponds or shallow wells, covered some of the country’s largest oil fields in southwestern Kerr County. .
The water produced contains natural salts, heavy metals and radioactive substances, as well as various toxic and cancer-causing additives. Oil companies control this waste primarily by removing it from the ground or importing it for extra oil.
He warned, however, that even a small portion of the groundwater would be pumped into unheated wells, creating a “straight path” to accessing groundwater.
Central Valley Water Board has issued various orders to pond operators, according to Edward Ortiz, spokesman for the Water Board. . Board staff continue to assess in detail whether additional groundwater is a threat to groundwater use and will continue to issue enforcement orders when necessary.
California law protects groundwater from water pollution caused by abnormal oil and gas operations. However, the state does not prohibit developers from using conventional methods, such as steam injection, to dump their wastewater into open wells, and it has largely failed to monitor the process.
Groundwater is a precious resource in the region. Millions of people in the region rely on domestic or municipal wells for groundwater. And farmers in the valley have turned to groundwater to irrigate their crops to replace the restricted surface water distribution during droughts.
“This paper confirms the findings of both the Central Valley Water Board and advocacy groups such as Clean Water Action for some time,” said Andrew Greenberg, Director of Special Action for Clean Water Action. Study. “These wells pollute and pollute groundwater.”
Allowing oil companies to dump their wastewater into another well poses a long-term threat to the region’s water supply, Greenberg said. “It’s good to see a very good science when you support these claims.”
A.D. In 2019, California produced more than 156 million barrels of oil and more than 3 billion barrels of wastewater, according to the latest data released by the Department of Geological Energy or CalGEM. Experts say that up to 18 barrels of waste per barrel is twice as much as eight barrels two years ago.
Although oil and gas production is declining, the ratio of water and oil is increasing. This is partly because developers are digging into the state’s most productive wells and are pumping large amounts of water or hot steam into wells to extract California’s tar.
“Groundwater is always important in the state of California,” said Sees Shonkoff, co-author and CEO of PSE Healthy Energy, in a technical briefing on the project. But as we approach a severe drought and look forward to climate change, these resources are actually growing, not declining.
He said conservation of this water is not only important to support the health of the region’s communities but also the economic and commercial engine of the San Joaquin Valley.
This past year has been a very dry year in California for nearly a century, prompting the governor to declare a state of emergency on Tuesday. A.D. The state’s last devastating drought, which lasted from 2012 to 2016, has already increased demand for groundwater, a trend that is exacerbated by California’s long-term and climate change.
California passed a sustainable groundwater management plan in 2014, even though local agencies have two decades to fill the oversized reserves. In the same year, the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, which oversees the Tulare Basin, finally plans to address the use of wells that are not covered by oil companies, and the state passed a law requiring CalGEM to retain the wells.
However, as Digilio and his colleagues know, there are no details. They had to set up a database of their own production ponds to identify groundwater delays and future damage.
It was hard work. The team identified more than 1,700 active production ponds, drawing on three different state databases that had little or no conflicting information. In some cases, the researchers found features similar to the ponds built on Google Earth that are not on any agency list. In addition, although the swamp-rich reservoirs that store groundwater may be endangered, the State Water Resources Board has not listed any currently unused ponds.
Some of the closed ponds stretched about four miles[10 m]from the top to the bottom, releasing about four miles of underground sewage.
The fact that any state or regional agency does not have a comprehensive database as required by law is “problematic,” Digilio said.
He said at least 16 billion barrels of oil and gas waste could seep into the ground, creating a “significant issue.” “These groundwater pipelines continue to flow to farm wells or public supply wells in many cases. They will not go. ”
Small groundwater monitoring
Digilio and his colleagues hope that state regulators will use the list of ponds they have gathered to take steps to protect the region’s ever-increasing groundwater supply.
He noted that so far groundwater pollution monitoring has been limited. Occasionally, groundwater contaminants for domestic and agricultural trade have been found
In one case, the Exxon mobile phone could cost up to $ 24 million. And even though carcinogen gasoline is 45 times higher than the safe drinking water limit in California, Central Valley regulators have finally agreed that recovery costs are too high and have opted for a “natural reduction.”
In other words, dispersal of the transmitters, the process that Digilio said could take hundreds of years.
He concludes: “It will take a long time to disperse these contaminants.” “I think you should see this as a permanent pollution.”
Digilio told me that although oil companies use industrial water as an oil refinery for industrial use, they have no financial incentive to treat waste. So oil companies can easily separate the oil before you remove it from the water.
“There is no other treatment,” says Digilio. “The incentive is to reduce costs. This will not happen unless regulatory agencies seek treatment.
Digilio, a research scientist at the University of Colorado, has worked for six years at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and for 31 years at the agency’s research and development bureau. However, after he and his colleagues reviewed California’s laboratory laws and policies and spent “counting time”, regulators could not say for sure that they had the legal authority to protect groundwater.
“The rules, the policies and the rules are very complicated, it’s not clear,” he said.
According to Digilio, the state should have the same protection as for other oil and gas projects. This, he said, would severely limit the practice. However, the 16 billion barrels of toxic water flowing through the region’s reservoirs will not be affected.
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Freshwater Action Greenberg Disposal of Produced Water “is, of course, an old and outdated waste management system. There is no reason why a state like California would never allow it.
According to Greenberg, oil companies have other options for sewage disposal, such as obtaining licenses and using extensive pipelines and processing equipment to manage them.
Instead of waiting for regulators to take control of it, the legislature believes that clean water action should be enforced by the legislature. “The idea that there’s no reason to throw this into the environment is ridiculous.”
For Digilio, policymakers cannot act quickly. “We have to look at these old issues and these problems, because they have been around for hundreds of years,” he said. “Probably longer”