Tag Archives: hydrofracturing


For Immediate Release – 5/15/12    For interview call 919-200-0061 Don’t Frack NC!:  Public Makes Final Plea To Uphold North Carolina’s Ban on Fracking Raleigh, NC – On Saturday May 19th at 12 noon, protesters will gather at Nash Park and … Continue reading

Fracking Moratorium Urged

This is re-posted from Jan. 9 (Bloomberg Business) — The U.S. should declare a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in populated areas until the health effects are better understood, doctors said at a conference on the drilling process.

Gas producers should set up a foundation to finance studies on fracking and independent research is also needed, said Jerome Paulson, a pediatrician at George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington. Top independent producers include Chesapeake Energy Corp. and Devon Energy Corp., both of Oklahoma City, and Encana Corp. of Calgary, according to Bloomberg Industries.

“We’ve got to push the pause button, and maybe we’ve got to push the stop button” on fracking, said Adam Law, an endocrinologist at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, in an interview at a conference in Arlington, Virginia that’s the first to examine criteria for studying the process.

Fracking injects water, sand and chemicals into deep shale formations to free trapped natural gas. A boom in production with the method helped increase supplies, cutting prices 32 percent last year. The industry, though, hasn’t disclosed enough information on chemicals used, Paulson said, raising concerns about tainted drinking water supplies and a call for peer- reviewed studies on the effects. The EPA is weighing nationwide regulation.

Longstanding Process

“We need to understand fully all of the chemicals that are shot into the ground, that could impact the water that children drink,” Representative Ed Markey of Massachusetts, a senior Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said in a phone interview. The industry is trying “to block that information from being public,” he said.

The gas industry has used hydraulic fracturing for 65 years in 30 states with a “demonstrable history of safe operations,” said Chris Tucker, a spokesman for Energy In Depth, a Washington-based research and advocacy group financed by oil and gas interests, in an e-mail. Drilling in shale deposits in the eastern U.S. began in 2004.

Gas drillers have to report to the U.S., state and local authorities any chemicals used in fracking that are “considered hazardous in high concentrations” in case of spills or other emergencies, Tucker said. Those reports don’t include amounts or concentrations, he said.

The industry created a public website last April for companies to voluntarily report lists of chemicals used in individual wells, including concentrations. Colorado and Wyoming have passed laws requiring drillers to file reports to the website, Tucker said.

Hazards Unknown

Despite those disclosures, U.S. officials say they don’t know all of the hazards associated with fracking chemicals.

“We don’t know the chemicals that are involved, really; we sort of generally know,” Vikas Kapil, chief medical officer at National Center for Environmental Health, part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said at the conference. “We don’t have a great handle on the toxicology of fracking chemicals.”

The government has found anecdotal evidence that drilling can contaminate water supplies. In December, the EPA reported that underground aquifers and drinking wells in Pavillion, Wyoming, contained compounds that probably came from gas drilling, including glycols, alcohols, benzene and methane. The CDC has detected “explosive levels of methane” in two wells near gas sites in Medina, Ohio, Kapil said.

He said he wasn’t authorized to take reporters’ questions after his presentation.

Chemicals Used

Fluids used in hydraulic fracturing contain “potentially hazardous chemical classes,” Kapil’s boss, Christopher Portier, director of The National Center for Environmental Health, said last week. The compounds include petroleum distillates, volatile organic compounds and glycol ethers, he said. Wastewater from the wells can contain salts and radiation, Portier said.

U.S. natural gas production rose to a record 2.5 trillion cubic feet in October, a 15 percent increase from October 2008.

A moratorium on fracking pending more health research “would be reasonable,” said Paulson, who heads the Mid- Atlantic Center for Children’s Health and the Environment in Washington, in an interview. His group is funded in part by the CDC and Environmental Protection Agency, he said, and helped sponsor the conference with Law’s organization, Physicians Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy.

Tucker called the CDC’s participation in the conference “disappointing,” saying the conference is “a closed-door pep- rally against oil and natural gas development.”

Representatives of Chevron Corp., Exxon Mobil Corp. and the American Petroleum Institute, a trade group, registered to attend the conference.

–With assistance from Katarzyna Klimasinska in Washington. Editors: Adriel Bettelheim, Reg Gale

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Wayne in Washington at awayne3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Adriel Bettelheim at abettelheim@bloomberg.net

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2012/01/09/bloomberg_articlesLXJW7C0YHQ0X.DTL#ixzz1j13gAv00

EPA Finds Fracking Chemical in Wyoming Gas Drilling Town’s Aquifer

Wells drilled deep into an aquifer in Pavillion, Wyo., contain high levels of cancer-causing compounds and at least one chemical used in fracking.
By Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica
Nov 13, 2011

Drill rig in a natural gas field in Wyoming/Credit: SkyTruth, flickr
As the country awaits results from a nationwide safety study on the natural gas drilling process of fracking, a separate government investigation into contamination in a place where residents have long complained that drilling fouled their water has turned up alarming levels of underground pollution.

A pair of environmental monitoring wells drilled deep into an aquifer in Pavillion, Wyo., contain high levels of cancer-causing compounds and at least one chemical commonly used in hydraulic fracturing, according to new water test results released yesterday by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The findings are consistent with water samples the EPA has collected from at least 42 homes in the area since 2008, when ProPublica began reporting on foul water and health concerns in Pavillion and the agency started investigating reports of contamination there.

Last year—after warning residents not to drink or cook with the water and to ventilate their homes when they showered—the EPA drilled the monitoring wells to get a more precise picture of the extent of the contamination.

The Pavillion area has been drilled extensively for natural gas over the last two decades and is home to hundreds of gas wells. Residents have alleged for nearly a decade that the drilling—and hydraulic fracturing in particular—has caused their water to turn black and smell like gasoline. Some residents say they suffer neurological impairment, loss of smell, and nerve pain they associate with exposure to pollutants.

The gas industry—led by the Canadian company EnCana, which owns the wells in Pavillion—has denied that its activities are responsible for the contamination. EnCana has, however, supplied drinking water to residents.

The information released yesterday by the EPA was limited to raw sampling data: The agency did not interpret the findings or make any attempt to identify the source of the pollution. From the start of its investigation, the EPA has been careful to consider all possible causes of the contamination and to distance its inquiry from the controversy around hydraulic fracturing.

Still, the chemical compounds the EPA detected are consistent with those produced from drilling processes, including one—a solvent called 2-Butoxyethanol (2-BE)—widely used in the process of hydraulic fracturing. The agency said it had not found contaminants such as nitrates and fertilizers that would have signaled that agricultural activities were to blame.

The wells also contained benzene at 50 times the level that is considered safe for people, as well as phenols—another dangerous human carcinogen—acetone, toluene, naphthalene and traces of diesel fuel.

The EPA said the water samples were saturated with methane gas that matched the deep layers of natural gas being drilled for energy. The gas did not match the shallower methane that the gas industry says is naturally occurring in water, a signal that the contamination was related to drilling and was less likely to have come from drilling waste spilled above ground.

EnCana has recently agreed to sell its wells in the Pavillion area to Texas-based oil and gas company Legacy Reserves for a reported $45 million, but has pledged to continue to cooperate with the EPA’s investigation. EnCana bought many of the wells in 2004, after the first problems with groundwater contamination had been reported.

The EPA’s research in Wyoming is separate from the agency’s ongoing national study of hydraulic fracturing’s effect on water supplies, and is being funded through the Superfund cleanup program.

The EPA says it will release a lengthy draft of the Pavillion findings, including a detailed interpretation of them, later this month.