Why is Waste Barging such an issue?
Unconventional oil and gas waste contains several harmful and often radioactive constituents that can pollute waterways in cases of spills or leaks. While the industry touts this method of transportation as a way to reduce truck traffic, vehicle exhaust, road damage, etc. the transportation of this waste on rivers is poorly regulated and increases the risk of leaks or chemical spills right into major bodies of water. Many of these rivers are sources of drinking water.
The potential for a spill is enormous, and the consequences could be catastrophic. A single barge can hold approximately 24,000 barrels of toxic, radioactive waste, and there is no limit to the number of toxic barges that could be traversing the Ohio River each day. (Read more on the blog by Concerned Ohio River Residents.)
Drilling and fracking wastewater contains salty brines, drilling and fracking chemicals and naturally occurring radioactive material flushed from shale formations thousands of feet underground. Radium-226 and radium-228, both found in brine waste, are known carcinogens and can cause bone, liver and breast cancer in high concentrations, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The wastewater can also contain other radioactive components, including Potassium 40, Thorium 232, and Uranium 238.
Read more about waste barging in an article published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Watch Parts 1 and 2 of the Better Path Presents webinar on Waste Barging and What You can do