Question: What water quality data can we collect to investigate oil/gas pollution?

wmacfarl is asking a question about water-quality
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by wmacfarl | September 18, 2019 20:29 | #20919

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Briefly: I am thinking about tool and project development for water quality monitoring around oil and gas pollution. In order to develop useful data-collection tools we need to know what kinds of things people want to use data for.

There are lots of sensors and lots of water-quality indicators that people and organizations monitor. Which ones are correlated with oil and gas industry related contamination?

From An Introduction to Community Based Water Monitoring --

"Groups trained by ALLARM and other service providers typically monitor conductivity, temperature, water depth, and the presence of radionuclides associated with shale formations such as barium and strontium. These core indicators are basic signatures of changes in water quality. But other groups also monitor for pH, dissolved oxygen, metals, chlorides and many other parameters that might point to specific causes of watershed impacts."


salts, barium are indicators of produced water and TENORM. I should share with you the technical paper that Stroud shared with me.

I just got a request from oakville, LA for us to determine whether or not the Stella field WP_Measuring_Oil_in_Water_final_2017_11_7.pdf

Here's a site we sampled for oil in the water, got back barium, oil, etc etc

wells were still active, as there's permits saying that the wells are closed, but also residual (?) oiling abounds

And here's a case, with Hilcorp in Louisiana, were the company knew it had a problem, put up boom before the tropical storm, but was relying on us / Coast Guard to tell them whether the boom was necessary. This flight was several days after Barry, so this could have been leaking for a minute. NRC 125 3034 Hilcorp in Plaquemines Parish, 07 24 2019, company's response NRC 125 3044

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It seems like one of the best indicators for oil in water is just visual inspection for an oil sheen (and photography for documentation)?

Apart from that, it looks to me like methods for directly measuring for oil in water require some combination of spectrometry and lab chemistry? But there are lots of indirect potential indicators including pH, dissolved oxygen, and salinity/conductivity that are probably worth monitoring for oil/gas related pollution?

from: "Aquatic oil pollution impact indicators such as oil-grease, low dissolved oxygen concentration, increased biochemical oxygen demand, increased water temperature and acidity of the water are associated with aquatic habitat degradation, reduced productivity and or loss of biodiversity. These impact indicators are interrelated and connected in a chain reaction that a severe shift in any of the parameters will induce negative changes in others. For instance, introduction of significant quantities of crude oil into the aquatic ecosystem will cause increase in biochemical oxygen demand, reduction in dissolved oxygen concentration, increased temperature and pH of the water body"

AND from: "In 2009, the container ship Colombo Queen and the oil tanker W-O BUDMO grounded off Jialeshui and Houwan, respectively, in southern Taiwan. Water quality was monitored at each site to evaluate the environmental impact caused by the resulting oil spills. The results show that the PAHs, turbidity, and other nutrients increased shortly after oil spill, however levels of these parameters eventually returned to baseline levels. On the other hand, DO saturation, pH and chl. a decreased initially, reached maxima after 10days, and returned to the baseline levels after 14days"

I think I'll write another, more specific question about these other measures!

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