Environmental Health - Toxic Substances Hydrology Program

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Fate and Effects of Wastes from Oil and Gas Development

USGS Scientist with hands in ice hole collecting a sample
USGS scientist working under ice to obtain grab samples of a stream in North Dakota to assess impacts of a UOG brine spill. Photo Credit: Adam Benthem, USGS.

Waste materials (solid and liquid wastes) from oil and gas development may pose risks to water quality and environmental health. Exposure pathways include land application, breaching of surface impoundments and pipelines, discharge of treated wastewaters and sludge, failures in well completions through shallow aquifers, and/or migration through fracture networks to adjoining permeable formations. This investigation is conducting studies aimed at understanding the composition of oil and gas waste materials to identify potential pathways to the environment, and to identify effects on receptor organisms exposed to these wastes. Our results are critical for assessing actual verses perceived risks to humans and other organisms and advising resource managers. More information on our research is available.


Three scientists holding a sediment core. The core is in a plastic tube

Program Scientist Receives Meritorious Service Award

Dr. Isabelle M. Cozzarelli received the U.S. Department of Interior's second highest honorary award—the Meritorious Service Award—for her numerous contributions to understanding the biogeochemical controls of contaminant degradation in groundwater and near-surface environments. ...

Two photos of Dr. Denise Akob (top) and Dr. Karl Haase (bottom) giving a laboratory tour

Two Scientists Receive Early Career Excellence in Leadership Award

The USGS 2016 Early Career Excellence in Leadership Award was given to Dr. Denise M. Akob and Dr. Karl B. Haase. Drs. Akob and Haase have demonstrated outstanding leadership through their scientific accomplishments and service to the USGS. ...

USGS scientist measuring dissolved oxygen

Trace Levels of Organic Chemicals Limited to Local Reaches of a Stream near an Oil and Gas Wastewater Disposal Facility

Organic contaminants that were present in Wolf Creek near a wastewater disposal facility were not evident farther downstream where Wolf Creek enters the New River. Wolf Creek and the New River are used for drinking water and recreational purposes. ...

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Library bookshelf


Access to publications from this investigation.


USGS scientist measuring dissolved oxygen

Photo Gallery

A collection of photos illustrating this investigation's activities.

More Information

The UOG Research Team

More Information on this Investigation

Get more information on the investigation's activities. The investigation's research plan is also avaialble.



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Page Last Modified: August 09 2017