Wastewaters generated during hydraulic fracturing of the Marcellus Shale typically contain high concentrations of salts, naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM), and metals, such as barium, that pose environmental and public health risks upon inadequate treatment and disposal. In addition, fresh water scarcity in dry regions or during periods of drought could limit shale gas development. This paper explores the possibility of using alternative water sources and their impact on NORM levels through blending acid mine drainage (AMD) effluent with recycled hydraulic fracturing flowback fluids (HFFFs). We conducted a series of laboratory experiments in which the chemistry and NORM of different mix proportions of AMD and HFFF were examined after reacting for 48 h. The experimental data combined with geochemical modeling and X-ray diffraction analysis suggest that several ions, including sulfate, iron, barium, strontium, and a large portion of radium (60-100%), precipitated into newly formed solids composed mainly of Sr barite within the first ∼10 h of mixing. The results imply that blending AMD and HFFF could be an effective management practice for both remediation of the high NORM in the Marcellus HFFF wastewater and beneficial utilization of AMD that is currently contaminating waterways in northeastern U.S.A.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Chemistry