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Oil and Gas Companies Spill Millions of Gallons of Wastewater in Texas

“An exclusive Inside Climate News analysis found companies have spilled nearly 150 million gallons of toxic, highly saline wastewater in Texas over the last decade… Inside Climate News has conducted the first-ever public analysis of produced water spills in Texas, working from data provided in response to open records requests to the Railroad Commission.  Over the decade from 2013 and 2022, the analysis found that oil and gas companies reported more than 10,000 individual spills totaling more than 148 million gallons of produced water. Where possible, companies use vacuum trucks to suck up as much spilled water as they can. But only about 40 percent of the water reported spilled from 2013 to 2022 was recovered. The spills ranged from small leaks of less than 10 gallons to massive incidents—19 of the reported spills exceeded 500,000 gallons. Although they represented a tiny minority of spills, with about 350 reported in the data, some of the most damaging incidents took place when produced water was spilled directly into streams, rivers or lakes.  Both conventional oil and gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, rely upon large quantities of water, sand and proprietary chemicals, some of which are toxic, to free the oil and gas from geologic formations deep underground. Produced water is the liquid waste that comes back to the surface and contains both the proprietary drilling fluids and naturally occurring hazardous compounds from the earth, including arsenic and organic compounds like benzene, a carcinogen. The highly saline water can render land barren for years. Residents have filed lawsuits detailing damages from contaminated well water to poisoned cattle…”

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