The EPA took another step toward tightening oversight of hydraulic fracturing today, announcing it would initiate a process to set national rules for treating wastewater discharged from gas drilling operations.
Until now, the agency has largely left it to states to police wastewater discharges. Some have allowed drillers to pump waste through sewage treatment plants that aren't equipped to remove many of the contaminants, leading to pollution in some rivers and to problems at drinking water facilities.
Cynthia Dougherty, EPA's director of ground water and drinking water, told a Senate panel today that the agency has an important role to play in bolstering state standards.
"I wouldn't say they're inadequate," she said of states' regulations, "but they could use the help."
When drillers frack a gas well, they inject thousands of gallons of chemicals, some of which are highly toxic even at low concentrations. When the fluid comes back up, it carries extremely salty water that can contain heavy metals and radioactive elements.Read more...
The following is an article excerpt from Chris Hawes with WFAA-TV on January 27, 2010.
Last summer, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality began testing to figure out what's coming out of natural gas facilities in the Barnett Shale. On Wednesday, the commission offered some answers. Scientists revealed potentially hazardous levels of benzene were found in the air at or near about half of the 44 facilities included in the study. They caution, however, that some of the facilities are very close together, so it wasn't always possible to figure out which one was releasing the toxin.Read more...
But concerns over water contamination and damaging health effects have followed the drilling process, known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking, nearly everywhere industry takes it. From the Northeast to the Southwest, critics have charged the method, which injects massive amounts of chemical-infused water thousands of feet underground to break up oil- and gas-bearing shale, taints local groundwater, though industry and regulators here claim it’s a geologic impossibility. And suffering through one of Texas’ worst drought in recorded history, observers wonder how to balance scarcity with a lucrative industry that requires massive amounts of increasingly precious water to operate.
On his trip, Tillman brought with him a vial of ashy gray sediment, which he said came from a groundwater well just 500 feet from a natural gas production site in his North Texas hometown. The water, when tested, showed high levels of arsenic, lead, bentonite, and benzene, compounds common in fracking fluid, also known as drilling mud. Tillman ties the contamination of that well, and several North Texas wells like it, to nearby fracking, though regulators dispute the claim.
According to Tom Balya, chairman of the Westmoreland County Board of Commissioners, there are two shale-minded companies that are using Southwest Pennsylvania Railroad to haul supplies for the region.
Magnablend Inc. (Waxahachie, Texas) located near Scottdale Borough. Magnablend performs custom chemical blending, manufacturing, and packaging for the oil field industry in the Marcellus Shale region. The SWP RR will deliver product to their facility along SWP for further distribution in the region.
The following is an article excerpt from Kate Clabby with The Daily Texan on March 23, 2011.
Natural gas has often been touted as the “clean” fossil fuel because burning it releases less CO2 than burning oil or coal.
Unfortunately, in the United States, most natural gas is extracted by hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” a process that’s anything but clean.