U.S. Geological Survey - Environmental Health
Our specialized teams of hydrologists, chemists, biologists, and geologists working together in the New River Gorge National River watershed have shown:
Some contaminants associated with oil and gas wastewater were found in a small headwater creek immediately downstream from a deep well injection site. However, these contaminants were not found elsewhere in the watershed, including in downstream in the New River.
Thus, potential health hazards examined in this study appear to be limited to a small area in immediate proximity to the injection site and not downstream where the waters are used for recreation and public drinking water supply.
Most wastewater generated in association with oil and gas operations is managed by injection in deep wells that are designed to safely dispose and contain contaminants in deep geologic formations.
Questions We're Working On:
We are using a similar watershed approach to assess the potential for health hazards in other locations across the United States where wastewater may enter the environment from spills, pipeline breaks, and other mechanisms associated with oil and gas operations.
We are also examining whether chemicals found in spilled energy production wastewaters pose toxicological or other health hazards for downstream aquatic organisms.