California “One of the Worst” in Regulating Oil/Gas Industry Waste
Notwithstanding its branding as one of the most environmentally-protective states, California ranks poorly in its regulation and enforcement of oil/gas waste, and particularly the industry's wastewater (aka, “produced water”). The recent audit cites many deficiencies, including being the only state that allows produced water to be disposed of in unlined percolation/evaporation ponds (which can seep into underground freshwater aquifers), inadequate regulation of radionuclides, and human-induced earthquakes (from underground injection wells). Finally, even with its more lax regulations, the report calls-out many “exemptions” that have been allowed, as well as poor enforcement.
Rising Earthquakes Leading to Greater Scrutiny of SWD; Reuse Option is Limited
The first article below, “Treating the US Oil Industry’s Dark Water: As Earthquakes Increase, Billions Needed to Switch Course”, details increasing earthquakes and other negative environmental impacts as reasons to “switch course”, specifically calling for more reuse of wastewater. The second article, “Challenges in Reusing Produced Water” details the high cost of this treatment for most end uses. Reuse is inherently limited to the extent that contaminants are usually not destroyed, but become more concentrated as good water is separated from toxic water, and the more contaminated the residual water becomes, the more expensive to treat. On the other hand, reuse is benefitting from continually rising freshwater prices in some very water stressed areas. ECOVAP is uniquely able to provide low cost disposal for any produced water waste stream up to 200k ppm, avoiding all of the environmental impacts of SWD’s (earthquakes, trucking/CO2, pressurized energy consumption and aquifer contamination).
ECOVAP: A Win-Win for the Rare Earth Market that is Critical for Green Energy
ECOVAP is proud to have provided a financial/environmental win-win to a large producer in the rare earth mining business (see Mining Case Study: https://ecovap.com/ecovap-product/). This article summarizes the growing environmental importance of rare earths as critical elements in wind and solar power, EV cars and energy storage, and in dramatically reducing the weight of all transportation vehicles. On the other hand, rare earth mining itself is very environmentally challenging, particularly in the water of tailings ponds: "for every ton of rare earth produced, there are 2,000 tons of mine tailings”. As a result, 95% of the industry has migrated to the relatively lax or unenforced environmental regulations in China. However, as China increasingly addresses these environmental challenges, the concern is that rare earth costs will increase significantly such that green, renewable power becomes less competitive.
Earthquake “Swarms” Linked to Wastewater Injection in California
The USGS has long established a strong link between wastewater injection and earthquakes in many states that previously had practically no seismic activity (i.e., Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana). However, this cause-effect analysis was much more difficult in California due to its many faults and history of natural earthquakes, thus making it much more difficult to separate out the “human induced” earthquakes from wastewater injection. This article points to “swarms” of earthquake activity around areas of California that occurred immediately after high levels of wastewater injection (mainly from the oil/gas “produced water”) occurred. ECOVAP is proud to have already had a significant impact on reducing the seismicity (and underground aquifer contamination, not covered in this article) risk as our second largest installation is located in Southern California, allowing our company to reduce the trucking and wastewater disposal volumes of a large mine by over 95% (see Case Studies - Mining https://ecovap.com/ecovap-product/).
ECOVAP Advantages Toward ZLD Summarized
The Bureau of Reclamation (BoR) published a January 2021 report titled “Emerging Technologies for High Recovery Processing” that includes a summary of ECOVAP’s ...