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Waste water or flowback water from hydro-fracturing shale gas wells generally needs to be processed in a water treatment plant before being discharged. 100% of drilling waste water is treated before being released back into the environment.
These fluids may also contain barium, iron, oil, soap, radiation (NORM), strontium, various heavy metals and other constituents.
Waste water treatment removes toxic chemicals and salt from the water used to fracture shale as well as the naturally occurring underground water that is produced by drilling and bought up to the surface.
More than 60% of waste water is reused, and this percentage is increasing. Industry leader Range Resources recycles 100% of its waste water in its core Marcellus shale operating area. Recycling has the added advantages of greatly reducing consumptive water needs, lessening the amount of water that must be trucked in, and cutting back on drilling costs.