Hydraulic fracturing wastewater analysis findings featured in Greeley Tribune

A Colorado School of Mines doctoral student's recently published findings on hydraulic fracturing wastewater analysis were featured in The Greeley Tribune. Karl Oetjen, a doctoral candidate studying hydrology at Mines, was one of the lead authors on the paper, “Emerging analytical methods for the characterization and quantification of organic contaminants in flowback and produced water," published in Trends in Environmental Analytical Chemistry.

From the story:

"Karl Oetjen, Mines doctoral candidate and one of the lead authors on the paper, published in August in "Trends in Environmental Analytical Chemistry," said there's no adequate way to measure the chemical makeup of the wastewater from hydraulic fracturing. All of the current methods used to test the quality of water — such as surface water, ground water and even wastewater from other sources — don't take into account the high saline content of the water or the numerous chemicals in it. These methods weren't intended to test water so complex, he said. And since there's a high level of variability in the water resurfacing from each well, it's difficult for researchers to even pinpoint what they should be testing.

"If you're worried about introducing this water to places where it could interact with the environment or human health, it's impossible to say if it's dangerous or not dangerous because we simply don't know," Oetjen said.

He describes the process of looking for certain contaminants in surface water as looking for a needle in a haystack. But when you're looking for contaminants in oil and gas wastewater, you're looking for a needle somewhere in a million haystacks."