… Because we fear to ask … because we fear to challenge BS ‘sound-bite’ answers … we live in the realm of the unknown …
… FRACKING … from public internet sources … Hydraulic fracturing, often called fracking or hydrofracking … is the process of initiating and subsequently propagating a fracture in a rock layer, employing the pressure of a fluid as the source of energy. The fracturing is done from a wellbore drilled into reservoir rock formations, in order to increase the extraction rates and ultimate recovery of oil and natural gas.
Hydraulic fractures may be natural or man-made and are extended by internal fluid pressure which opens the fracture and causes it to extend through the rock. Natural hydraulic fractures include igneous dikes, sills and fracturing by ice as in frost weathering. Man-made fluid-driven fractures are formed at depth in a borehole and extend into targeted formations. The fracture width is typically maintained after the injection by introducing a proppant into the injected fluid. Proppant … is a material, such as grains of sand, ceramic, or other particulates that prevent the fractures from closing when the injection is stopped.
Considerable controversy surrounds the current implementation of hydraulic fracturing technology in the United States. Environmental safety and health concerns have emerged and are being debated at the state and national levels.
Hydraulic Fracturing Chemicals – use anywhere from 50,000 to 350,000 gallons of various stimulation and fracturing fluids, and from 75,000 to 320,000 pounds of proppant during the hydraulic fracturing of a single well. Many fracturing fluids contain chemicals that can be toxic to humans and wildlife, and chemicals that are known to cause cancer. These include potentially toxic substances such as diesel fuel, which contains benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene, xylene, naphthalene and other chemicals; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; methanol; formaldehyde; ethylene glycol; glycol ethers; hydrochloric acid; and sodium hydroxide. Very small quantities of chemicals such as benzene, which causes cancer, are capable of contaminating millions of gallons of water. The above is but the tip of the ingredients used by the oil and gas industry in their “fracking” process.
It is estimated that anywhere from 20-40% of the fracking fluids remain in the ground. Some fracturing gels remain stranded in the formation, even when companies have tried to flush out the gels using water and strong acids. Also, studies show that gelling agents in hydraulic fracturing fluids decrease the permeability of coals, which is the opposite of what hydraulic fracturing is supposed to do (i.e., increase the permeability of the coal formations). Other similar, unwanted side effects from water- and chemical-based fracturing include: solids plugging up the cracks; water retention in the formation; and chemical reactions between the formation minerals and stimulation fluids. All of these cause a reduction in the permeability in the geological formations.
Hydraulic Fracturing Chemical Disposal – When companies have an excess of hydraulic fracturing fluids, they either use them at another job or dispose of them. Some company Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) include information on disposal options for fracturing fluids and additives. Yet these same fluids (in diluted form) are allowed to be injected directly into or adjacent to USDWs. Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, hazardous wastes may not be injected into USDWs. Moreover, even if hazardous wastes are diluted with water so that the hazardous characteristics of the fluids are removed, the wastes still cannot be injected into USDWs. If unused hydraulic fracturing fluids are indeed "hazardous wastes", it is unconscionable that EPA is allowing these substances to be injected directly into underground sources of drinking water.
ALLEGATION … EPA Finds Secret Fracking Chemicals in Drinking Water
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has discovered numerous pollutants in well water near gas drilling sites, including chemicals that are used in a controversial technique called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The investigation in central Wyoming is the first water testing by EPA examining the impacts of gas drilling on drinking water. However, EPA is hobbled in its duty to protect the public because gas drillers are allowed to keep secret the chemicals they pump into the ground – toxic chemicals that may be entering ground water supplies.
Responding to years of complaints of water contamination and illnesses from citizens in rural Wyoming, the EPA investigated the water quality of 39 wells surrounding a small community besieged by gas drilling. The agency found a range of contaminants, including arsenic, copper, vanadium, and methane gas in the water. Many of the substances are found in various fluids used at drilling sites. EPA scientists are acknowledging the growing body of evidence linking hydraulic fracturing to numerous cases of contamination and health problems.
The drilling industry claims no federal regulation of fracking is needed, citing the lack of conclusive proof linking fracking chemicals to contamination of a particular water source. Unfortunately for EPA and citizens like those in Wyoming who depend on wells, EPA has little authority to do the scientific analysis needed to effectively protect water supplies. A 2005 energy bill exempted gas drilling operations from the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act. EPA eventually was able to exercise its authority under the Superfund law to begin its investigation in Wyoming.
The news organization ProPublica describes the burdensome and slow process EPA is forced to use to protect public health:
EPA investigators explained that because they had no idea what to test for, they were relegated to an exhaustive process of scanning water samples for spikes in unidentified compounds and then running those compounds like fingerprints through a criminal database for matches against a vast library of unregulated and understudied substances. That is how they found the adamantanes and 2-BE [compounds associated with gas drilling].
All this effort was to test just 39 water wells surrounding one small town. There arethousands of gas-drilling sites around the country that are using secret fracking fluids. Gas drilling expanded greatly during the previous administration. Drilling sites are active or in development in more than 30 states, including in the watershed that supplies drinking water to New York City.
Legislation that is now in Congress would close the regulatory loophole granted to the oil and gas industry and require drillers to disclose what chemicals are in their fracking fluids. Without knowing what chemicals to test for and without the authority of the Safe Drinking Water Act, the EPA’s investigations will be slower and costlier and identifying the source of contaminants extremely difficult. Under these restrictions, which are designed to protect industry, the government cannot protect the drinking water and health of Americans.
CURRENT REALITY … Frankly we do not honestly have a clue on what any driller is actually putting into the ground in his “fracking” secret “soup” concoction nor the pressure at which it is delivered, nor the actual conditions this “fracking” process has on any of the surrounding ground, nor the extent of the area affected by this “fracking” process. Moreover, by application of law all this activity is excluded from the provisions of the Federal Clean Water Act – courtesy of Congre$$ – thereby essentially gifting immunity to the oil/gas industry for any damage this process causes or may cause.
Furthermore, the rules and standards governing this fracking activity is the work product of academia, think tanks, government studies essentially controlled by the oil/gas industry … effectively allowing them to be judge, jury, prosecutor.
The reputed guardians of our environment … EPA … today is a revolving door agency where government regulators and industry personnel change positions more often than some folks change underwear. One needs a directory to determine who is representing what and for whom…? As a result authentic environmental protection is an oxymoron … as prevailing corporate influence subjugates … as elected ‘public servants’ prostrate themselves before their corporate masters.
As “we” remain hopelessly afraid to just ask the question … demand full disclosure … accept nothing less …
As a result daily our underground water aquifers increasingly are contaminated … our soils polluted … our general health declines … while the captains of industry enjoy obscene profit$ … with no accountability as “we” have allowed them to pass all their externalities forward for you and me to pay for … As the late Jackie Gleason was so fond of saying .. “how sweet it is” … if you’re corporate that is…
Filed under: Blogroll |