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 Of most concern in produced water is the family of organic compounds known as BTEX. This acronym stands for Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene, and Xylenes, which are closely related. These compounds are soluble in water, so produced water from the extraction of crude oil is always contaminated with these compounds.

Benzene is carcinogenic, while Toluene, Ethylbenzene, and Xylenes have harmful effects on the central nervous system of humans and animals. Frequently found together, the BTEX compounds are proven to cause cancer and other diseases, birth defects, eventual death and even immediate death with exposure to high concentrations.


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was established in December 1970 by an executive order of President Richard Nixon. It is an agency of the United States federal government whose mission is to protect human and environmental health. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the EPA is responsible for creating standards and laws promoting the health of individuals and the environment.

It was formed in response to widespread public environmental concerns that gained momentum in the 1950s and 1960s. From the EPA’s creation it has sought to protect and conserve the natural environmentand improve the health of humans by researching the effects of and mandating limits on the use of pollutants.

The EPA regulates the manufacturing, processing, distribution, and use of chemicals and other pollutants. In addition, the EPA is charged with determining safe tolerance levels for chemicals and other pollutants in food, animal feed, and water.

The EPA enforces its findings through fines, sanctions, and other procedures. Under the Trump administration, the EPA’s recent regulations of carbon emissions from power plants, automobiles, and other contributors to climate change, instituted by President Obama, are largely being rolled back. The EPA’s size and influence have also been diminished, and criminal prosecutions for those who aren’t following regulations are at a 30-year low.

website for the EPA

'Frack Flowback

‘Frack flowback is that water then flowing back up to the surface. About 80% of the ‘facking fluid used to complete a well will come back in the first 30 days of production. After that, the water that comes up along with oil and gas is natural produced water


FracFocus is a chemical disclosure registry.  It is a publicly accessible website managed by GWPC and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC) where oil and gas production well operations can disclose information about ingredients used in hydraulic fracturing fluids at individual wells.

FracFocus website


"Fracking Water

‘Fracking water is fresh water that is trucked onto a site, and then mixed with additives. This water is then injected into the earth at high pressure to fracture the rock formation to allow the oil or gas trapped within the formation, to be accessed.


OSPAR is the mechanism by which 15 Governments & the EU cooperate to protect the marine environment of the North-East Atlantic. OSPAR started in 1972 with the Oslo Convention against dumping and was broadened to cover land-based sources of marine pollution and the offshore industry by the Paris Convention of 1974.

Website for OSPAR

Produced Water

The term “produced water,” in a generic industry sense, is used to describe water that is extracted from the earth during oil and gas operations, and often in mining operations.

Produced water is also frequently referred to as “brine,” “saltwater,” or “formation water.”

However, used specifically, the term “produced water” is not the same thing as ‘fracking water, or ‘frack flowback.



STRONGER, is an acronym for State Review of Oil and Natural Gas Environmental Regulations. STRONGER was formed in 1999 to reinvigorate and carry forward the state review process begun cooperatively in 1988 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC).

STRONGER is a non-profit, multi-stakeholder organization whose purpose is to assist states in documenting the environmental regulations associated with the exploration, development and production of crude oil and natural gas. STRONGER shares innovative techniques and environmental protection strategies and identifies opportunities for program improvement. The state review process is a non-regulatory program and relies on states to volunteer for reviews.

U.S. EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy have provided grant funding to STRONGER to support its activities. The American Petroleum Institute has also provided no-strings attached funding to support the state review process. STRONGER invites participation in the state review process. They seek volunteers from both states and interested citizens. They also invite inquiries about the process and the concepts of direct evaluation of environmental regulatory performance. www.strongerinc.org

Unconventional Oil & Gas

Crude oil and natural gas produced by a well drilled into a shale and/or tight formation (including, but not limited to, shale gas, shale oil, tight gas, tight oil).”  Source: EPA definition 40 CFR 435.33(a)(2)(i)


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