A key solution to the earthquake crisis in Oklahoma and some other energy states is the long-term management of an enormous amount of oil-field wastewater likely triggering the shaking. The energy industry is working to solve this billion-barrel-a-year problem, and one promising alternative to risky disposal wells is reusing wastewater instead of pumping it underground.
Millions of gallons of salty wastewater are produced each day wherever there’s oil and gas production. Most states inject wastewater deep underground, but several like Wyoming use above-ground wastewater ponds, too. Regulators now want to make sure the state will not be left scrambling to pay for the pond’s cleanup if companies shutter.
Salty wastewater from oil wells was once dumped into pits dug into farmers’ fields. Over the years, it seeped into neighboring land, rendering it infertile. Decades later, North Dakota’s left wondering how to clean up this toxic legacy.
You asked? We answered! Lisa Gardiner of the UCAR Center for Science Education and AirWaterGas helped us answer an audience question: What happens to all the water that comes up after a well is hydraulically fractured?