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Monday, March 21, 2011

FracPure : Treating Frack Water And Marcellus Liquids on the Montour Trail

3/21/11 #229
First, my normal bicycling post:
Rode 20 miles on the Montour Trail today, Boggs to Route50 and return.

55F, a bit windy. First Montour Trail ride of the year, the trail was in great condition, just a little bit soft.

I was real pleased to see the business owner had placed a drinks machine outside the tanning salon at Route50. I wasn't too excited that it was a $2.00 drink machine, but I think they'll do well there, and there's a real dearth of available drinks along this section of the trail.

6 cyclists. 1 recumbent, 5 walkers. 1 dog-walker,
2 joggers 1 wild turkey several cardinals

And now, what I discovered today.

I was surprised to see what appears to be a fracking (hydraulic fracturing) outpost along the trail, in North Fayette Township just south of the Boggs Trailhead and Route 22. The logo above the entrance says, "FracPure".

It looks so innocuous. If the door opened I wouldn't be surprised to see The Smoking Man coming out to see what's up. After returning home I Googled FracPure. Wow. According to their website,

FracPure : A "Cradle to Grave" Solution

Integrated Water Technologies was founded to create water remediation technologies to help develop natural gas as a clean and abundant green energy source for the future. We developed FracPure™ specifically for the natural gas industry, providing a proven solution to the industry’s largest obstacle: Hydraulic Fracturing or Frac Water Management.

The natural gas drilling process hydraulic fracturing or fraccing (sic: fracking) creates 2 major water management challenges.
  • Supplying 4-6 million gallons of fresh water for each well. This water is currently being drawn from local rivers, lakes and streams, negatively impacting water resources.
  • The disposal and handling of over 1 million gallons of produced contaminated water for each well, within the first two weeks of drilling.
Our patent pending process, FracPure™ is a revolutionary "cradle to grave" solution which environmentally and cost effectively solves both of these problems, while yielding beneficial salt products and distilled water. FracPure™ water distillate is safe to return to the environment and exceeds all EPA and State environmental regulatory agency drinking water standards.

FracPure™ also drastically reduces trucking costs for natural gas companies both on incoming freshwater supplies and outgoing disposal.

From Water & Waste Digest (who knew there was such a thing?):
Integrated Water Technologies Inc. opened its first Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)-approved FracPure Treatment and Recycling Facility in North Fayette Township in southwest Pennsylvania.

The facility currently provides phase one of the FracPure treatment process, using chemical treatment and filtration to recycle 250,000 gal per day, providing 100% reuse of flowback. According to the company, no water will be discharged into rivers and streams in the process, helping the natural gas industry ease statewide environmental water concerns. ...

According to the company, the full-scale FracPure brine treatment plant will remediate flowback brine into cleaned water that exceeds the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state drinking water standards of 500 parts per million of total dissolved solids, and Pennsylvania's Chapter 95 wastewater requirements, which makes it safe to return to the water table and into rivers and streams. The only other byproducts are 99.7% pure salts for water softening and liquid salt for erosion control and de-icing of roads.

Let's attempt to distill what this means.
Industry mixes up poisonous liquids for hydraulic fracturing.
They pump the mix into the ground, where it's contaminated.
Industry calls this contaminated / poisonous liquid "produced water".
Most of the contaminated water comes back to the surface.

They filter it and mix it with enough fresh water to meet the standards.
They return 80% of the new diluted poison/water mix back into the water table.
They cook the remaining 20% in evaporators, leaving salty solids that they sell.
It makes a lot of money for big business.

The FracPure Solution™ is owned and delivered by Integrated Water Technologies. Their website lists the economic and environmental benefits of their solution. Got a lovely picture of a family in a rowboat. I hope the kids don't drink any of the water, or eat any of the fish.

We have to hope that whoever wrote their tagline, A Cradle-to-Grave Solution, has a sense of irony. I think the diluted poison-water blend they're returning to the water table is going to be just that, a "cradle to grave solution".

There doesn't seem to be any discussion on the company website about the recent findings that the water and salts that come out of the fracking process are radioactive.


  1. The materials you quote don't say the company is diluting anything. They talk about distilling (quite different), chemical treatment, and filtration.

    You claim the company will "pour the new diluted poison/water mix back into the water table". The company says "no water will be discharged into rivers and streams in the process".

    When you say "Let's attempt to distill what this means", it sounds like you're trying to summarize the company's statements. But instead you make claims that are completely different and directly opposed to the company's claims. That's not a summary.

    Do you have any evidence that the company is diluting anything, or dumping water into streams, instead of doing what they claim? Or are you just speculating?

    It's not helpful to attack the industry for fictional misdeeds, when there are so many actual misdeeds going on.

  2. That's not a rowboat, that's a canoe. And not just any canoe, but a GREEN canoe - a sign of how environmentally aware FracPure is. :-) Their statement that "no water will be discharged into rivers and streams in the process" sounds misleading to me. You don't handle huge volumes of water without dumping it somewhere. Perhaps it gets discharged into rivers and streams AFTER their process? Or by another company?

  3. Looks like they distill it. That's not energy efficient--another minus against the presumed efficiency benefits and carbon savings of natural gas--but it is effective at cleaning the water. The bigger question comes at the off-site location. It's not trivial to separate out different sorts of salts, to make "pure salt." I would be most unhappy to know that leached uranium salts are still present at moderate levels in the "road salt" going back on our roads, and into our waterways. Plus, we know that the companies state that they plan to put the final toxic sludge--the stuff that's neither salts nor clean water--back into used wells. Given how liquids seep along through faults and by capillary action, it doesn't make me all that happy to think that we're making super-concentrated frac-goo (with water and some salts removed) to put back into wells. The distilling site itself I would not consider a huge worry. Well, so long as they don't have little taps that can flow backwards into the ground or the river when they decide that dumping the stuff slowly would be even cheaper than treating it, or when cities decide that their "salt mix" is not actually the best thing for the roads, and they lose that part of their money making process, yet still have to honor their contracts with the frac companies.