Fluids co-produced with oil and gas production (produced waters) are often brines that contain elevated concentrations of bromide. Bromide is an important precursor of several toxic disinfection by-products (DBPs) and the treatment of produced water may lead to more brominated DBPs. To determine if wastewater treatment plants that accept produced waters discharge greater amounts of brominated DBPs, water samples were collected in Pennsylvania from four sites along a large river including an upstream site, a site below a publicly owned wastewater treatment plant (POTW) outfall (does not accept produced water), a site below an oil and gas commercial wastewater treatment plant (CWT) outfall, and downstream of the POTW and CWT. Of 29 DBPs analyzed, the site at the POTW outfall had the highest number detected (six) ranging in concentration from 0.01 to 0.09 μg L− 1 with a similar mixture of DBPs that have been detected at POTW outfalls elsewhere in the United States. The DBP profile at the CWT outfall was much different, although only two DBPs, dibromochloronitromethane (DBCNM) and chloroform, were detected, DBCNM was found at relatively high concentrations (up to 8.5 μg L− 1). The water at the CWT outfall also had a mixture of inorganic and organic precursors including elevated concentrations of bromide (75 mg L− 1) and other organic DBP precursors (phenol at 15 μg L− 1). To corroborate these DBP results, samples were collected in Pennsylvania from additional POTW and CWT outfalls that accept produced waters. The additional CWT also had high concentrations of DBCNM (3.1 μg L− 1) while the POTWs that accept produced waters had elevated numbers (up to 15) and concentrations of DBPs, especially brominated and iodinated THMs (up to 12 μg L− 1 total THM concentration). Therefore, produced water brines that have been disinfected are potential sources of DBPs along with DBP precursors to streams wherever these wastewaters are discharged.
Additional publication details
Discharges of produced waters from oil and gas extraction via wastewater treatment plants are sources of disinfection by-products to receiving streams