g from the report where we can agree is the importance of disclosing the composition of fluids used in the hydraulic fracturing process.
“Fracking” fluid is pumped down the well under controlled conditions during the hydraulic fracturing process (watch our hydraulic fracturing animation to learn more). These fluids consist of about 99 percent water and sand and about 1 percent chemical additives. They are essential to the process of releasing gas trapped in shale rock and other deep underground formations.
Earlier this year, we joined with other companies in voluntarily disclosing the components of fracking fluids on FracFocus.org, a site developed and operated by the Ground Water Protection Council and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission. Both organizations are composed of state regulatory officials.
Several states and organizations are supporting disclosure via the FracFocus website so that the public can find out more information about the composition of fluids used in wells in their areas. In fact, Texas – one of the country’s largest producers of natural gas – adopted a law earlier this summer mandating disclosure of fracking fluid contents on the FracFocus website. We support such efforts.
Even though chemicals represent a very small portion of hydraulic fracturing fluids, they serve several important purposes. Such additives help to eliminate bacterial growth in the well, similar to the way that chlorine helps eliminate bacterial growth in a pool or our drinking water. Bacteria can cause corrosion, which, unless treated by chemicals in the fracking fluid, could impact the safety and integrity of the well. Other additives are designed to prevent scale build-up in the well and reduce friction to help manage well pressure.
While the composition of fracking fluids may be different from one well to another – depending on the depth and characteristics of the rock – the basic components of fracking fluids are fairly standard. In fact, many are used in a wide variety of consumer products. This chart shows the common ingredients in hydraulic fracturing fluids, as well as how they’re used in everyday life – in everything from detergents to cosmetics to food.
While it’s important to understand what’s in fracking fluids, I think it’s just as important to understand the mechanisms in place that prevent the fluids from reaching groundwater supplies.
When drilling a well, we must pay attention to how we set the steel casing and cement the casing in place. When this is done properly, the actual process of hydraulic fracturing does not pose a threat to groundwater supplies because it typically takes place more than a mile below groundwater supplies. We were pleased that the recent DOE panel recognized this in its report.
As in all types of natural gas production, it’s essential to use responsible operational practices when designing, drilling and maintaining the well to ensure that fluids and the produced gas are properly handled in the well and on the surface.
This is where state laws and regulations have a vital role to play. State regulators have a unique understanding of the local geology and environment that allow them to evaluate the safety and integrity of the wells drilled in their regions. Additionally, oil and gas companies – in conjunction with regulators, accreditation organizations and the like – have developed and disseminated guidelines for responsible operational practices to uphold safe natural gas development around the country.
You can learn more about the components of well integrity by watching our hydraulic fracturing animation on YouTube, or read more about the process on our natural gas website.
I also recommend a visit to the FracFocus.org website to learn more about hydraulic fracturing, fracking fluid contents, and how water supplies are being protected.
lating protests, suggest that it might.
Last night, in Lancashire – where fracking has stalled since causing minor earthquakes near Blackpool two years ago – campaigners from throughout Britain gathered for a bring-your-own-tent “Frack Camp”, two days of music, presentations, poetry and discussions on campaign strategy, fuelled by “freshly prepared vegan and vegetarian foods”.
In West Sussex, meanwhile, better-heeled residents of the Conservative heartland village of Balcombe are getting together more conventionally today to plan “peaceful protests”, after a shock announcement that “unobtrusive” round-the-clock exploratory drilling for shale oil and gas will start next month. They will start by accumulating street-by-street petitions – 82 per cent of the villagers are opposed – but some unlikely revolutionaries are already talking of passive resistance. G4S, of Olympics security fame, is being hired just in case.
In South Wales, local people met last night to contest plans to drill in the Vale of Glamorgan. Last week, there were packed meetings in the Somerset villages of Ston Easton and Compton Martin. In March, Greenpeace erected a fake drilling rig in George Osborne’s Cheshire constituency, and protests have even crossed the water to counties Fermanagh and Down.
The issue polarises opinion, and induces not a little paranoia. Objectors have called fracking “an ecocidal technology” and predicted it will turn beautiful countryside into “something more akin to Mordor”.
writer for The Weirton Daily Times
WHEELING — Forget about breathing silica dust or drinking methane-infused water: A new study suggests merely hearing the noise associated with natural gas fracking operations can jeopardize human health.
Industry leaders, however, maintain their operations are safe, while highlighting declines in carbon dioxide pollution due to electricity producers switching their fuel sources from coal to natural gas.
The study, in which West Virginia University occupational and environmental health professor Michael McCawley participated, suggests those living near fracking operations can experience “sleep disturbance, cardiovascular disease and other conditions that are negatively impacted by stress.”
“People living near oil and gas development may bring up concerns like air pollution, traffic and groundwater safety, but many also complain about noise,” said Jake Hays, director of the Environmental Health Program at PSE Healthy Energy, a nonprofit research institute based in Oakland, Calif. “But until now, most of the research relevant to public health has focused on the impacts of air and water pollution.”
Fracking is the process by which drillers extract valuable natural gas, oil and liquids from Marcellus and Utica shale. Officials estimate it takes anywhere from 1 million to 10 million gallons of water to frack a single well, along with about 4 million pounds of sand, in addition to a chemical cocktail that can vary from company to company, in addition to individual operations within those companies.
Many of the chemicals frackers inject are found in products as common as soda, detergent and hair dye. Frackers inject these materials deep into the earth at a pressure as high as 10,000 pounds per square inch to shatter the rock in order to release the fuel.
Recently, officials working for the Obama administration’s Environmental Protection Agency said officials working on the government’s behalf “identified cases of impacts on drinking water at each stage in the hydraulic fracturing water cycle.”
In addition to methane, natural gas producers have confirmed the potential to discharge various amounts of pollutants into the air from the operations at well sites, compressors and refineries. These include benzene, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide equivalent, xylenes, toluene and formaldehyde.
However, environmental researchers are now concerned with the noise drilling and fracking operations create. Indeed, the noise generated at the sites is such that some companies working in the Upper Ohio Valley establish sound barrier walls around their operations to mitigate the public disturbance.
“Oil and gas operations produce a complex symphony of noise types, including intermittent and continuous sounds and varying intensities,” PSE Healthy Energy Executive Director Seth Shonkoff, who is also a visiting scholar at the University of California-Berkeley’s Department of Environmental Science, said.
Researchers claim fracking noise negatively impacts human health in three main areas: annoyance, sleep disturbance and cardiovascular health. They claim sustained, low-decibel sounds can be as disruptive as high-decibel sounds.
“Noise exposure, like other health threats, may disproportionately impact vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly and people with chronic illnesses,” the researchers state.
Industry leaders offer the noise barriers on fracking operations, including some in the Upper Ohio Valley. Moreover, officials with the Washington, D.C.-based American Petroleum Institute say fracking helps consumers save an average of $1,337 per household every year, supports a large number of U.S. jobs and curbs carbon dioxide emissions by replacing coal for electricity generation.
Just last week, Drew Cobbs, executive director of the Maryland Petroleum Council, touted the environmental positives of his industry in response to efforts to ban fracking.
“The industry is committed to safety and solid well construction, and the industry is committed to transparency in reporting the chemicals we use. That commitment, combined with technological innovations in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, has made the United States the world’s leader in the production of oil and natural gas, while also making our nation the global leader in reducing carbon emissions,” Cobbs said.
Added by Sojourner at 11:51am on December 29, 2016
volved in the process raises concerns about several ingredients. The scientists presenting the work today at the 248th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) say that out of nearly 200 commonly used compounds, there's very little known about the potential health risks of about one-third, and eight are toxic to mammals. The meeting features nearly 12,000 presentations on a wide range of science topics and is being held here through Thursday by ACS, the world's largest scientific society. William Stringfellow, Ph.D., says he conducted the review of fracking contents to help resolve the public debate over the controversial drilling practice. Fracking involves injecting water with a mix of chemical additives into rock formations deep underground to promote the release of oil and gas. It has led to a natural gas boom in the U.S., but it has also stimulated major opposition and troubling reports of contaminated well water, as well as increased air pollution near drill sites. "The industrial side was saying, 'We're just using food additives, basically making ice cream here,'" Stringfellow says. "On the other side, there's talk about the injection of thousands of toxic chemicals. As scientists, we looked at the debate and asked, 'What's the real story?'"
To find out, Stringfellow's team at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and University of the Pacific scoured databases and reports to compile a list of substances commonly used in fracking. They include gelling agents to thicken the fluids, biocides to keep microbes from growing, sand to prop open tiny cracks in the rocks and compounds to prevent pipe corrosion. What their analysis revealed was a little truth to both sides' stories — with big caveats. Fracking fluids do contain many nontoxic and food-grade materials, as the industry asserts. But if something is edible or biodegradable, it doesn't automatically mean it can be easily disposed of, Stringfellow notes. "You can't take a truckload of ice cream and dump it down the storm drain," he says, building on the industry's analogy. "Even ice cream manufacturers have to treat dairy wastes, which are natural and biodegradable. They must break them down rather than releasing them directly into the environment." His team found that most fracking compounds will require treatment before being released. And, although not in the thousands as some critics suggest, the scientists identified eight substances, including biocides, that raised red flags. These eight compounds were identified as being particularly toxic to mammals. "There are a number of chemicals, like corrosion inhibitors and biocides in particular, that are being used in reasonably high concentrations that potentially could have adverse effects," Stringfellow says. "Biocides, for example, are designed to kill bacteria — it's not a benign material." They're also looking at the environmental impact of the fracking fluids, and they are finding that some have toxic effects on aquatic life. In addition, for about one-third of the approximately 190 compounds the scientists identified as ingredients in various fracking formulas, the scientists found very little information about toxicity and physical and chemical properties. "It should be a priority to try to close that data gap," Stringfellow says.
A press conference on this topic will be held Wednesday, August 13, at 1 p.m. Pacific time in the Moscone Center, North Building. Reporters may report to Room 113 in person, or access live video of the event and ask questions at the ACS Ustream channel http://www.ustream.tv/channel/acslive. He acknowledges funding from the University of the Pacific, the Bureau of Land Management and the state of California. The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 161,000 members, ACS is the world's largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.
TPS was created in 2011, in time for our first 9/11 Truth Marathon. Many thanks to Jim and SkyBlueEyes for helping with the background design and layout and Sky, BP, IC Freedom and others for all the hours spent in the Conference room for our Popcorn & Movie Topic Nights.