USGS research evaluates impacts to amphibians at old production sites

While recent advancements in wastewater disposal practices have greatly reduced environmental risks from oil and gas development, impacts at some previous production sites persist, the US Geological Survey reported.

Jun 27th, 2019

While recent advancements in wastewater disposal practices have greatly reduced environmental risks from oil and gas development, impacts at some previous production sites persist. Recent research may help prioritize some mitigation and restoration efforts and help with responses to future spills if they occur, the US Geological Survey said.

USGS scientists studied how historic oil and gas production in a portion of the Williston basin has affected native amphibians in the Prairie Pothole region. Scientists looked at the barred tiger salamander, northern leopard frog, and boreal chorus frog. They also looked at metal contamination in sediments, the US Department of the Interior agency indicated in a report.

Associations between environmental pollutants and larval amphibians in wetlands contaminated by energy-related brines are potentially mediated by feeding traits, the report said.

In the sampled sediments and studied amphibians, the report said metals known to occur in the saline wastewaters coproduced during energy production were found, as well as other metals that did not appear to be from historic oil and gas wastewater.

It said that feeding habits were found to affect metal concentrations in the amphibians, with wetland grazers like frogs potentially at higher risk for metal exposure, likely from ingesting sediment while feeding.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@endeavorb2b.com.

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