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63 comments

The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

Posted April 25, 2012 9:30 AM by cheme_wordsmithy

The natural gas industry in the U.S. has been completely transformed over the last few years, thanks largely to a technology called hydraulic fracturing (aka 'fracking'). And while few contest the benefits of natural gas over oil and coal, there are many concerns about the pollution resulting from this process.

How It Works

Hydraulic fracturing involves the injection of water, sand, and chemicals to help retrieve natural gas or oil stored in geological formations. These deposits can exist over a mile below the surface, making normal extraction of fossil fuels prohibitively expensive due to poor flow rates through the formations. Fracturing fluid (mostly water, and typically millions of gallons) is injected into the wells and travels into the perforations in the rock. High pressure eventually causes the rocks to crack or fracture, helping release gas (or oil) and stimulating its movement through the formation.

Hydraulic fracturing is the most common method for natural gas harvesting, and uses a fracking fluid made of water (about 98.5%), sand or other proppant (about 1%), and various chemicals (mainly lubricants corrosion inhibitors, and biocides). Gas fracking, which uses propane, nitrogen, or another gas as the fracking fluid, is a less common and perhaps less controversial method, but has not yet been widely adopted.

Credit: The Texas Tribune

Combining fracturing with techniques for directional drilling (particularly horizontal drilling) have made it possible to access sites previously inaccessible. However, this has also stirred controversy about property rights and whether they apply for the ground 1000 feet below the surface...

The Groundwater Problem

For a decade now, there has been a growing concern over the environmental safety of hydraulic fracturing, mostly on the issues of water use and contamination.

The water issues have been raised and discussed for years. In additional to the large amounts of water used by the process, many claim that aquifers and well-waters are being contaminated by methane as a result of the fracking. Despite the fact that the"burning water" reports are undeniably true (or rather, burning methane in water, as seen here), the evidence does not support that the methane-containing water necessarily came from hydraulic fracturing. The consensus among environmental officials is that the problem stemmed from new water wells being drilled in soils with high levels of natural methane, and that some older wells may have been inadequately sealed or plugged. Unfortunately, the misinformation brought about by opponents of fracking (e.g. the Gasland documentary) has not helped shed truth on the subject.

In reality, it isn't very likely that fracking fluid or the gas released from fracturing could travel thousands of feet upward through multiple types of rock layers to get into shallow aquifers and wells (typically less than a hundred feet below the surface). As it stands, there have been no conclusive independent studies that show hydraulic fracturing causes groundwater contamination. The EPA is still in the midst of its own investigation, and its findings will not likely be reported until sometime in 2014.

MIT did its own study, titled The Future of Natural Gas. In the 20,000 cases of fracked wells covered, only 43 reported environmental incidents, and none of them were caused by hydraulic fracturing. The majority of the incidents were the result of drilling and other operations. Although these spills and leaks are still unacceptable, the study shows that the process of hydraulic fracturing is not to blame, and that existing problems can be remedied with better practices and procedures.

The Air Pollution Problem

A more recent issue that has been raised on the topic of hydraulic fracturing is the emissions it generates. When the oil and gas are retrieved from wells, chemicals from the fracking water and the ground come up with them in what is called 'flowback'. These emissions include methane, VOCs, and hazardous pollutants such as benzene, sulfur dioxide, and hexane.

In addition to the obvious problems associated with air toxins and VOCs, the release of methane is a problem for scientists and environmentalists concerned with global warming. This is because methane (the primary component of natural gas) is up to 72 times more potent than CO2 in terms of warming the atmosphere over a 20 year period. Some scientists say that the benefits of using natural gas over coal are ultimately being offset by methane releases from fracking, and they fear the near-term warming changes that could come as a result.

The EPA's Response

Just last week, on April 18, the EPA issued regulations on the control of air pollution from hydraulic fracturing. These regulations will require fracking operations to install equipment by January 2015 to reduce VOCs and hazardous pollutants.

Unlike other pollution regulations, these standards have the possibility of actually be cost effective. The pollution control equipment will indirectly allow companies to capture methane, which can be sold for revenue along with the rest of the harvested natural gas. Estimators say the regulations could actually generate profit depending on the amount of methane retrieved.

In addition to these regulations, the pressure is continuing to build on fracking companies to clean up their emissions. This pressure (in addition to concerns about water usage and spills) could slow down the momentum of natural gas production, a very key part of the U.S.'s growing economy (particularly in the chemical industry). But is it a necessary sacrifice?

References

C&EN - EPA Issues Fracking Rules

EarthWorks - Hydraulic Fracturing 101

Journal of Natural Food & Health - Five Myths About Fracking

MIT - The Future of Natural Gas (pdf)

Texas Tribune - EPA Issues New Standards for Hydraulic Fracturing

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#1

Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/25/2012 11:31 PM

Even though fracking has never been a proven culprit in contamination of aquifers, it still excites people. I think it is the same mentality that opposes pipelines in Canada to the oilsands. The environmental movement is resorting to pseudoscience to illustrate the bad aspects of oil, natural gas, or any fossil fuel. The Gasland movie is a good case in point. The burning water as they claim or burning methane is a very common ground water problem. I have seen many waters containing methane and you could capture the methane for combustion. Yet there are no known oil or gas wells in the area developed for productivity. There are many methane wells around with no fracking taking place.

If one understands some basic chemistry and microbiology along with some life cycles, the reason for methane to be found in ground water can be explained. Follow water from the time it falls out of the sky and seeps into the ground. As the water enters, it carries some of the organic litter found on the surface and this organic matter (TOC) is incorporated as a part of the water. Where there is water and organic matter life takes hold and usually microorganisms will munch on that food. Near the surface the bacteria will use oxygen for respiration and release CO2 as a byproduct. When oxygen is depleted oxygen consuming bacteria will yield to nitrate (NO3) for respiration and they too release CO2 as one byproduct, dido for manganese, iron and sulfate uses for respiration. CO2 is released in all the processes (other products such as Mn, Fe, N2, H2S, HS, are also released). It is the CO2 that comes into play when methanogen bacteria will use all that build up of CO2 for respiration and form CH4 methane as a product. The process continues as long as there is a food source ,TOC, trace nutrients, and a method of respiration. The water will be described as anaerobic by the time microorganisms are using iron and sulfate for respiration. It will be very anaerobic when microorganisms start to use CO2 for respiration. Methane formation will usually only take place after most of the sulfate has been exhausted as means of respiration. If allowed to continue into the process, phenol rings will form and the beginnings of other more complex organic molecules. It is a natural cycle of water and the carbon cycle. Eventually, the water returns to the surface; albeit, sometimes over thousands of years, to evaporate and become rain once again.

Methane created by this method is very common and has little if anything to do with fracking. The hype created by dubious environmentalists make good? reading as does the burning of water. The blaming of deep well fracking is almost always bogus.

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/26/2012 12:05 AM

It seems like a lot waisted time and money!! speaking of money when I get a large amount to build this pump that will do the same thing. I will get tank full of methane and my ford explorer will get 600 to 800 miles per gal of gas. And so will your car. No diging, no gas wells, no damage to water.

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#15
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Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/27/2012 7:43 AM

And where do you propose to get the methane to run your Ford Explorer?

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#3

Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/26/2012 8:50 AM

proppant?

edit: I looked in the dictionary before a general search, sorry

A proppant is a material that will keep a induced hydraulic fracture open

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#4

Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/26/2012 10:37 AM
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#5
In reply to #4

Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/26/2012 12:11 PM

Interesting report. It's just unfortunate that there is no data to compare from before the fracking started, as they mention in the report:

"An alternate explanation provided and considered by EPA is that other residents in the Pavillion area have always had gas in their wells. Unfortunately, no baseline data exists to verify past levels of gas flux to the surface or domestic wells."

I'm glad they're making efforts to find answers though. If there is contamination coming from the fracking process, it definitely should be a concern.

-

The research from the Duke University students seems, IMHO, to be a lot less helpful:

"They found that levels of flammable methane gas in drinking water wells increased to dangerous levels when those water supplies were close to natural gas wells."

It makes sense that natural gas wells are more likely in to be located in places with high concentrations of methane (shallow and deep), yes? That correlation doesn't prove the gas in the water came from fracking.

"They also found that the type of gas detected at high levels in the water was the same type of gas that energy companies were extracting..."

Would we normally expect the gas composition deep underground to be different than that in shallow ground near wells? I don't know. Would welcome some insight if anybody has it.

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#7
In reply to #5

Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/26/2012 2:02 PM

I wonder if the really looked for data to find some type of base line for prior water quality. You would think that the number of wells in the area at least some would have had the water tested in the pasted.

As I have in the past rough necked on a drilling rig. I find it hard to believe that some of them do not leak. The shallowest well I helped drill was 4500 feet. Pretty hard to prove or disprove a leak that far down in any part of the casing or the rock strata that's suppose to contain these chemicals . So what they have to resort to is water testing to pick up changes. My problem there is just like proving the leak it very difficult to fix the water that far down once its contaminated. And water moves what is contaminated may end up in a municipal water supply in the future. It's that in or search for that black gold oil are we not increasing the value of water if we do not do everything possible to protect it. Water in most of this country has been very plentiful. Little seems to be done when there is an abundance. Do we do nothing until the cries of public dissension on the cost of water. It maybe one day 10 A gallon if we do not question these practices.

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#6
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Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/26/2012 12:34 PM

Hi Ozzb:

I did a very quick look at the results of domestic ground water sampling. I only did a cursory look but the water is really crappy. I was unable to find any sample of ground water before the fracking but it may be in the reports. I just didn't read into them in enough depth. The SO4 concentrations are certainly high enough to suggest that the cycles I described in post #1 should be enough to prevent natural methane. The sulfate is significantly high to suggest the water has not yet passed to the sulfate reducing bacteria (SRB) and thus one would expect elevated iron. Iron, the element used by microorganisms for respiration (electron donation) on a scale above the SRB dominance, is showing up in most domestic wells. That iron would be expected from wells with an elevated SO4 level. The problem with the chemistry and microbiology is likely natural and these homeowners would be facing serious water quality issues without fracking.

However in this study, with all the nasty organics showing up, there is a suspected link between the fracking or fracking materials and the domestic water supplies. The conductivity of the water and the SO4 levels are such that some alternative source of water should be sought to supply these domestic sites with a good potable water. Treatment of this water (there are some exceptions) are for the most part not practical. I suspect some of the disposal pits used for dumping the spent fracking water are influencing the shallow aquifers. It is a mess, thanks for the links. I will read them thoroughly when I have more time.

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#8

Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/26/2012 10:43 PM

Methane is usually accounted as 21x CO2-e, and Nitrous Oxide 310x, so where does the figure of 'up to 72x CO2-e for methane' come from? Are you including a percentage of Nitrous oxide in the figure?

Here in Australia fracking is controversial and dismissing concerns that pollution of aquifers etc is unlikely to be caused by fracking is hardly going to reassure those with concerns about its environmental impact.

Chris LS

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#9
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Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/26/2012 11:17 PM

Any concerns can be dealt with through good regulation and oversight. Better safe than sorry. The EPA is comfortable with fracking and the Obama administration is trying to get all federal agencies to coordinate and expedite development of natural gas resources. At least that is their public position. Those who delay, or halt development of this clean and cheap natural resource only harm the economy of their nation.

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#10
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Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/27/2012 12:30 AM

"Those who delay, or halt development of this clean and cheap natural resource only harm the economy of their nation."

I don't know if that's your words or a quote, but too friggin bad about the economy! If people are concerned about the economy, they should be going after the companies that already provide the resources that we currently rely on (i.e. big oil) and their record profits. I just watched "Gashole", can you tell?

The natural resources are what the people fighting this stuff are trying to protect.

I mean it's one thing if the gas can be tapped without the fracking process, then I would call it a natural resource. But this process isn't a natural one. I don't know a whole lot about it, but what I do know is that like all big industry, it seems to get it's way while the environment takes a backseat. And just when it looks like the folks in Washington decided to take a closer look at this process, they also conveniently said that the new regulations won't come into effect until 2014. By then these companies will have a strong foothold, and a lot of damage will already be done.

Right now they're moving way to fast if you ask me. People are complaining about contamination. And scientists seem to think that it might be causing un-natural seismic activity. Yet these guys just keep on coming.

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#11
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Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/27/2012 12:52 AM

If the EPA says it is OK, what makes you think that it is not? Natural gas is about as natural as it gets. Extreme environmentalists are well meaning, but are impediments to the economy. They are now trying to stop export of LPG. Natural gas is eliminating the need for coal and nuclear plants. They are a far greater threat.

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#13
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Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/27/2012 1:28 AM

I don't think the EPA had a choice somehow. And I agree with you about coal, kinda on the fence with nuclear though.

It's funny you mention the exportation of LPG though... I was just wondering the other day- With the big push to drill for natural gas under way, how much of it is expected to be exported. I mean they play it up like it's a way to become more energy independent. But if they're planning on exporting most of it, then it just comes down to people making money.

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#12
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Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/27/2012 1:24 AM

I see nobody reads what I said, Iam not talking about fracking in the ground and removing gas from rocks. Iam talking about removing gas fumes from gasoline and pumping in to propane tanks. then getting 500 -800 miles per gal in a V-8. now thats what Iam talking about!! Not hurting the environment.

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#14
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Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/27/2012 1:33 AM

Sorry Larry. We were talking about the fracking process.

What kind of pump? A vacuum?

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#16
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Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/27/2012 7:52 AM

Are you talking about capturing fumes during fueling operations? If so, then systems already exist for that. They simply use a vacuum pump and reabsorb the gas into gasoline and resell it. They are expensive inefficient but they work and if the economy supports it will be successful and reduce air pollution.

If not what is your source of gasoline producing fume to be recovered?

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#27
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Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/27/2012 5:30 PM

No. I believe he's talking about running an automobile on the vapor of gasoline directly.

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#40
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Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/28/2012 9:12 PM

Yes you got it right!! One gal. of gas would produce at least 8 to 10 20lb tanks of vapors of gas, think of how far you can drive on that. You know that gas don't burn in your car its the fumes that burn, the fumes burn cleaner. the unit that I'am building will put pressure and vapors in a tank. all that from 1 gal. of gas.

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#42
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Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/29/2012 4:50 AM

I think you need o go back to the drawing boards. One gallon of gas only weighs about 7.5 pounds to begin with. You are talking about netting "8 to 10 20lb tanks of vapors." That sounds like something for nothing which is always too good to be true. Not to mention the energy required to pump the vapors up to pressure. Again something for nothing.

BTW the internal combustion engine already converts the gasoline to vapors by the differential pressure in a carburetor or the differential pressure in a fuel injector because the one thing you got right is it is vaporized not liquid gasoline that burns in your engine. So why waste time and energy doing something that is already being done?

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#43
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Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/29/2012 5:30 AM

This idea sounds a lot like a guy's invention I was just looking into- Tom Ogle. He supposedly was doing the same kind of thing. I think they found him dead in his car . Lol.

The idea seems to make sense though. But according to this guy it won't work. Although I wouldn't mind tinkering around with the concept myself.

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#44
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Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/29/2012 6:45 AM

Just do the math. You can't get more out of a turnip than what is in it to begin with.

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#45
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Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/29/2012 12:06 PM

Mass is conserved. One gallon of gasoline weighs 6.073 pounds. The vapors will not exceed 6.073 pounds of gasoline regardless of volume. This is not politics, 6.073= 6.073 not 160 to 200 pounds of vapors. If your point is that by increasing its volume some how increases its fuel value or contained energy and thus obtained mileage you are mistaken. Note to moderators: this post is perilously close to HHO thinking. Milo

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#59
In reply to #45

Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

05/12/2012 9:21 PM

Your Right But your wrong! The volume may be the same but add pressure increases the vapors amount of 100% burnable vapors no carbon ( as in raw gas ) When raw gas is used over 50% is not burned ( carbon monoxside ) thats why vapors or propain burns cleaner. trust me its been tested. the car was tested on 500 miles per gal. and that was vapors off of gas only. now with add pressure I belive I can get 800 miles per gal. Sorry you are mistaken!!

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#60
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Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

05/12/2012 10:08 PM

"trust me its been tested"- larry burns " when a man speaks of honor, make him pay cash." robert heinlein No thank you. Have fun. Milo

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#61
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Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

05/12/2012 10:17 PM

Do you mean 500 miles per tank or 500 miles per gallon? Also the vapors are hydrocarbons and they still contain carbon. It is the carbon that provides the energy. And finally more efficient fuel injected engines already raise the pressure as the gasoline in injected into the cylinder rather than being sucked in by the carburetor.

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#19
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Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/27/2012 8:16 AM

"Any concerns can be dealt with through good regulation and oversight."

"Those who delay, or halt development of this clean and cheap natural resource only harm the economy of their nation."

So we want bureaucrats and politicians to have the final say in whether it is contaminating our ground water. When their only agenda is to stay in office. And the biggest concern to the general public right now is the economy. That there are more voters in New York City or maybe here in Baltimore that could give a rats ass whether the people effected by fracking have drinking water. As long these city people have gas to get to work and heat their homes.

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#21
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Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/27/2012 10:42 AM

I believe that all your fears regarding fracking are vastly exaggerated. Reasonable precautions can be enforced, and should be. The economy of nations is a far greater concern right now. Re the USA, see: http://www.usdebtclock.org/

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Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/27/2012 2:17 PM

At the moment I have no fears. There are no drilling rigs in my back yard working to contaminate my water supply. But why wait why not ask the question now.

Nice clock.

How does the fracking stop the government waste in spending? The only thing I've ever seen. Is them increase wasteful spending when the economy is good. Even in a poor economy they waste money poorly. The pay outs to the institutions to keep them solvent left loop holes. In that most of the money did nothing to help the economy here. So don't believe there are many government officials elected or appointed that look farther then the next election.

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#18
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Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/27/2012 8:14 AM

The 72x comes when looking at methane's global warming potential over a shorter timespan (20 years). It is less over a longer period (100 years) I believe because it has a much shorter chemical lifespan in the atmosphere than CO2. A couple sites that list this figure:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmospheric_methane

http://www.global-warming-forecasts.com/methane-carbon-dioxide.php

This one indicates a GWP of 56, but includes additional factors of influence:

http://unfccc.int/ghg_data/items/3825.php

With the natural gas boom, climate change environmentalists are worried more about the short term warming effects of methane and the rise of global temperatures over the next 20-30 years.

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#17

Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/27/2012 8:04 AM

It's unfortunate that the EPA has become yet another radical arm of an out of control administration that is bent on imposing itself on the American people by bypassing congress and exerting control by fiat, through ever expanding bureaucracies.

http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000086715

That said, a couple of things still concern me:

1) Where will the fracking chemicals be 100 years from now?

2) With the constant shifting of the earth's tectonic plates, natural seismic activity, etc., what effect will this sub surface fracturing of rock have in the future...........in regard to sink holes, earthquakes, etc?

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#20

Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/27/2012 9:10 AM

I trust the EPA about as far as i can throw them.

I find that the most telling piece of information about the fracking process is the Halliburton Loophole. It seems obvious that the only reason that this loophole exists is because the industry(who would be the most knowledgeable about this process) KNOWS that it will contaminate water supplies.

Also i take exception to the statement "but you will hurt our economy!". The heading of this blog is "fracking POLLUTION problems" not economic problems so please do not attempt to manipulate people with economic scare tactics.

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#22

Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/27/2012 12:52 PM

When the issue of water pollution comes up, the discussion gets limited to what happens deep underground. How about the flowback water and its effect on the fresh water at or near the surface?

Dumping the flowback water into retention ponds, lined or not, is not a solution. Dumping it in the rivers of Pennsylvania (dilution does not solve pollution), or into conventional wastewater treatment plants, has been banned by the state. Trucking it away to some compliant jurisdiction, like Ohio, for dumping is also not a solution, nor is allowing it to leak out onto the road. The primitive state of wastewater technology at well sites, compared to the advanced drilling technology, shows where the industry's priorities lie. The mess left behind after plundering the natural resources is finally becoming a matter of concern to regulators, despite the Halliburton Exception.

Chesapeake, the largest producer after Exxon, is $10.3 billion in debt. Water pollution is no longer a back burner issue, and corporate liabilities are expanding. So it looks like the gas bubble is about to burst, and with it the hopes of Green zealots that fracked methane will replace coal and provide backup generation cheap, in order that wind and solar can connect to the grid, despite their intermittency. Coal plants that were shut down in reliance on this Green energy fantasy will be missed when consumers and American industries face blackouts.

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#23
In reply to #22

Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/27/2012 1:26 PM

At this point we can only avoid reliance on coal by either adopting a more Neandrthal lifestyle or nuclear. Both have about the same chance with the general public. Living in Indiana where coal is major business, I don't understand the objections. Technology exists to clean up coal except for the CO2 which is the natural consequence of burning ANYTHING and I am convinced that that is not as big a problem as it is cracked up to be. If we just help Mother Nature compensate by growing more trees, plankton or bacteria to consume the CO2 through their natural respiration, we will be just fine. No one has ever calculated the total CO2 respiration on a global basis now as compared to 10,000 years ago but I would bet that the CO2 engine is running faster now than in the past.

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#26
In reply to #23

Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/27/2012 5:28 PM

You might say this is one of the biggest reasons I'm against fracking. Well let's just say the water pollution is obvious.

The burning of fossil fuels is a big deal. The way I see it, it took millions of years to make that stuff, and we're releasing the CO2 (not to mention it's energy) all in the span of a few hundred years let's say. At most

Thinking of this balance- What kind of foliage would it take to consume that amount of CO2? I don't see it happening. This amount of CO2 production is an artificial one, and I think we may have to come up with an artificial one to keep it in check (if not reverse it) soon. I recently read of a researcher that was working on such a scrubber, but the idea falls far short from what I can see (at least in scale). The biggest shortcoming though was that the trapped CO2 still had to be dispensed of.

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#25

Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/27/2012 3:34 PM

I wonder what will happen when a big earthquake hits a fracked zone? Will it just be transmitted through the harder rock around the fractured rock or will its energy be absorbed bouncing around in the fracked part? I know there are several types of earthquakes. What happens with the different types? Could the fracked zone act like a hydrolic bottle in a jack and concentrate the energy or could the fracked zone act like a lens and concentrate it at a distance away from the frack zone.

Just a few questions I would like to hear an answer to.

I recall a James Bond movie where the bad guys were drilling in the San Andreas fault just so they would cause a big quake. But reverse the thing. What if a bad nasty earthquake hits the "good guys" saving America from energy starvation?

It seems to me that the American society has already made the choice - Water or Oil.

I still don't understand why industry doesn't slow down their fracking effort to let gas prices go up. Anyone care to tell me why?

Given that contamination from one leaky oil tank in under a house in Oak Bay Victoria BC cost over a hundred thousand dollars to clean up, the costs of being wrong might be higher than people are admitting. How do you clean up an Aquifer? "The Ogallala Aquifer spans eight states, provides drinking water for two million people, and supports $20 billion in agriculture" (from wikipedia).

It would be a bummer if something like that became compromised, wouldn't it?

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#30
In reply to #25

Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/28/2012 12:53 AM

The reason you're confused, is that you're an idiot. One in billions.

We're going to kill each other.......................the only question, is how long will it take?

One thing is for sure............................................the planet will shrug us off like a bad case of the fleas.

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#28

Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/27/2012 10:03 PM

1) gas wells in Ohio have been'fracked' for last 40 years. Its the depth and directional drilling thats new; 2) EPA is not credible in this issue: http://www.star-telegram.com/2012/03/30/3849362/epa-drops-action-against-range.html. Also epa administrator in southwest was censured by lisa jackson for his crucify industry comments, which it seems were actually a metaphore taken out of context by the media. (go figure) kinda like the way they did the racial comment on the 911 tape of George Zimmerman. Milo

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#29
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Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/28/2012 12:41 AM

I got some details from Ohio,

"Between 1950 and 1977, over 15,000 raw water chemical analyses of the State's public ground water supplies were obtained. Since around 1977, only finished (treated) water has been tested on a regularbasis, and analyses are largely limited to primary (health related) drinking water parameters." Now might be a good time to recheck by doing a raw water chemical analysis of everything again. It seems they stopped testing raw water 5 years after "fracking" began.

Why not do 15,0000 samples of raw water from all around Ohio and see the effects (if any) of 40 years of small scale fracking? All we have to do is compare the new results with the old ones from 1977 and earlier! This would be a good test to see if the alarm bells really need to be ringing about the massive amount of fracking that is going on now.

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#31
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Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/28/2012 6:57 AM

Ask the EPA. They have budget, responsibility and authority. Why do you think that they aren't testing raw water, given their mission? One possibility might be that they are putting their monies where the REAL potential problems lie. Another might be that they are just an ineffective bureaucracy more worried about growing their head count and authority and enforcement than actually doing science. Milo

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#32
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Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/28/2012 12:19 PM

I WOULD ask the EPA, if I lived in Ohio. Why are YOU not pushing for them to do a raw water test state wide? After 40 years of fracking, and pumping bad shit underground, if there is no unexplained change in the fracked areas, you get a more or less clean bill of health for your favourite technology!

There is NO good reason that they just stopped testing raw water. Hopefully they have not destroyed the earlier results too. Sometimes the administration "does not want to know". Case in point, Canada is de-funding climate science because their results have not tallied with the ruler's agenda. No money and no data mean no results.

I don't think the EPA is independent, they exist in a political atmosphere. They have pretty strong links to Monsanto, the revolving door of execs going from one to the other and back again is well documented.

Perhaps if anyone cares to look, they might have the same movement of people back and forth to and from the mining and fracking industry. Do YOU want to know if the raw water quality has changed? I would, if my food was grown there.

Brian

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#33
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Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/28/2012 12:55 PM

Ohio's EPA, counties, cities, water districts, individuals, businesses, etc have undoubtedly done thousands of water tests over the years.

Agricultural runoff and silt is a far greater problem, and one is that rarely addressed. Our streams, reservoirs, and silt is laden with all sorts of pesticides and other chemicals used in farming. Sewage, both treated and untreated, ends up in our streams nationwide. Chicago, and other cities, get away with inadequate storm drains and treatment facilities. A heavy rain is all it takes to pollute Lake Michigan. Industries, of all kinds, get away with polluting groundwater. Water pollution needs to be looked at in that context. Pretending that we have much pristine water anywhere is delusional. Of course we need to do the best we can, but ignorant demonization of fracking is counterproductive. Our economic situation is dire, and we cannot afford the luxury of such silliness. We must look at the greater context, as in the killing of birds by windmills.

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#36
In reply to #33

Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/28/2012 5:13 PM

I wasn't ignorantly demonizing fracking! I was providing a solution to your problem.

The ag chemicals are specific ones, the frack chemicals are specific. If you test your water now and compare it to the 1977 results, it will easily show if fracking is polluting ground water. (or not)

This is not rocket science. It really surprises me that Ohio stopped testing their raw groundwater nearly 40 years ago! Reckless and dangerous behaviour.

Instead of calling me ignorant for suggesting they test the raw water, why not act rationally and agree that it is a good idea? What is your reason for opposition to testing? They might find pesticides? Your job is frack related? Or what?

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#38
In reply to #36

Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/28/2012 5:41 PM

I am totally in favor of testing! I stated that there were thousands of tests that should be researched for a baseline. New tests cannot be used for a pre-fracking baseline unless on a separate aquifer. Are you telling me that there have not been tests in the state of Ohio in 1977? The state EPA should have been testing on a regular schedule. Cities, counties, water districts and individuals all do testing.

I want all pollution minimized. Some pollution has to be acceptable though, or nothing would get done. We wouldn't even be able to breathe or dispose of heavier bodily wastes. I am retired, and am only interested in the well being of our people, land, and economy. I am a proponent of natural gas because it can eliminate pollution from coal and nuclear plants. It can also free us from spilling blood and billions in wars overseas. It can bolster our economy and create jobs while improving our trade deficit. We are broke, and cannot afford to delay utilizing natural gas to the fullest extent feasible. I was just notified, on my Ameren Illinois power bill that my energy comes from 74% coal, 1% hydro, 13% nuclear, 5% wind, 6% natural gas, and 1% , other. We have coal plants that burn filthy bituminous coal. Are you aware of the epidemic of asthma? Of acid rain? Our pollution lands in Ohio and the Northeast. China's lands in California and beyond.

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#48
In reply to #36

Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/29/2012 4:59 PM

Let's be clear about what water you advocate testing. I live in Ontario and we follow the same rules as the USEPA for testing. All public water supply is tested at raw water level for many parameters and include things like complete Ontario Drinking water Objectives (ODWS) at specified periods of time. These parameters include all bacteria, physical, inorganic, metals, TPH, BTEX, pesticides, herbicides, radionuclides, and possible others. A specific parameter may be much more frequently sampled depending on occurrence and treatment technology provided. All these samples must be taken by qualified staff who have demonstrated knowledge and experience. An engineer is required to review all results. Raw water is continuously sampled on all public water supplies. The treated water usually goes through the same process and at different levels of treatment. I suspect there may be over 15,000 public water supplies in many jurisdictions that could/do provide a basis for date collection and monitoring.

If you are advocating the sampling of "15,0000" wells for raw water, someone with a real good handle will be required to undertake such a project. Do you mean 15,000 or 150,000 wells? Cost can be out by a factor of 10. Each well will require at a minimum $500.00 testing at accredited plus about another $1000.00 for sampling and reporting. If something other than an enhanced general chemistry is required, it can add dramatically to the costs. If resampling is required and reporting to the homeowner cost continue to escalate. You may find things in the water totally unrelated to fracking but because you have sampled you have assumed a level of responsibility. You can't shut your eyes to discovering a domestic well presents health risks. The project is huge in terms of time and manpower and money.

In Ontario, as in most jurisdictions, a private homeowner is responsible for all his own sampling. In some jurisdictions, there are levels of sampling (for example arsenic) at the time of property transfer and a few jurisdictions are now mandating qualified samplers and engineered interpretation. PM me and I will provide anyone with a base set of samples I think are required. I will also provide interpretation with many caveats. Free.

Is it important for homeowners to sample the raw water? I agree and more so in light of the onus on a homeowner to safe guard his family. Do not depend on your local water softener installer to be qualified (some may be qualified but in my experience that would be an exception). I always thought building codes should be meshed with EPA or ODWS to specify parameters of raw water at the time a private property is originally built upon or property is transferred or a new well is drilled. I do not know or want to specify the level of intrusion on private property. It is currently a homeowners responsibility to decide for most jurisdictions. In the Wyoming case, many of those wells would be difficult case studies even without any fracking. The water was crappy before it started. It is the private water supply that is of concern as there is a very low level of testing and professional interpretation.

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#34
In reply to #31

Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/28/2012 1:22 PM

And yet another possibility is that they might be trying to protect the industry (this one didn't occur to you?). There is evidence of this. Last year, leaked documents showed concern from EPA scientists (privately) about fracking and adverse health/environmental impacts that were quietly swept under the rug when it came time to go public with findings. For example, in 2010 the EPA had privately planned to call for a moratorium on fracking in New York watershed but omitted this advice from a letter to officals in new york.

The leaked documents can be found here: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/02/27/us/natural-gas-documents-1.html

ronwagn- your argument seems to be (besides the old economic scare tactic again) that some industries pollute water so why not let all industries pollute. Has attempting to require all industries to protect the water not occurred to you? Or can we not "afford the luxury of such silliness"?

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#35
In reply to #34

Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/28/2012 4:31 PM

You are a typical far left environmentalist who is more concerned about feeling self righteous than trying to find the objective truth. You are so wrapped up in your own propaganda that you cannot see the opposing point of view, and deny reasonable arguments. I have repeatedly stated that reasonable regulations should be enforced, yet you attempt to smear me as a willful pro pollution advocate. I am pointing out the pollution that is not being mentioned by others. No one wants to drink dirty water. Right or left wing or moderates. Reasonable people understand that economic considerations are vital to all. I will study your document and here is another point of view:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZ-4gnNz0vc&feature=youtu.be

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#37
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Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/28/2012 5:17 PM

If you want to find the "objective" truth, why call me ignorant for asking for a state wide testing of raw water in Ohio and compare this with the results when it was last done (around 1977). I would be happy if they test for all pollutants including ag and industrial and frack pollutants. Wouldn't you?

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#39
In reply to #34

Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/28/2012 5:51 PM

I skimmed the entire document, and especially the highlighted areas. I could not find anything of great interest. There were a lot of minor infractions, which are to be expected. I was most concerned about the dumping of large amounts of water into an abandoned mine. I may have missed some other important items, but think it is a good article. I appreciate the reference, and your research. Keep on top of it. If voters can stop fracking in their area, then then they should do so. There are plenty of areas that want to benefit from it, and there is no shortage of natural gas. I am sure that, when the price of natural gas increases, new areas will welcome it. Again, I am all in favor of reasonable regulations.

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#46
In reply to #39

Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/29/2012 12:36 PM

ronwagn- The two documents that i was referring to were not included on the link i gave you, sorry. Nonetheless, the documents hardly showed minor infractions. Illegal dumping, discharging excessive amounts of untreated waste water into rivers, compromised drinking water etc. etc. The EPA is very concerned wilth the environmnetal impacts of marcellus shale development.

All this neglect because the industry and govt are rushing into this without the proper tools or experience. The gas is not going anywhere and if anything will only appreciate in value over time so why rush into this like is being done? Because haste makes waste(for us), and huge profits for others. Eventually, tighter restrictions will be placed on the industry (after they do some damage first), which will in turn decrease the profit margin.

Now back to my original beef, the possibility that EPA might have softened up on the industry. The two documents i was originally referring to can be found here in attachments D and E.

http://www.toxicstargeting.com/sites/default/files/pdfs/docs_110303.pdf

The point is that the EPA has softened in the past so whats to say they wont do it again. With all the money that's involved it doesn't seem to far out of an idea.

Finally ronwagn, i didn't mean to try to paint you as pro pollution. You are obviously concerned about this issue or else you would not be pouring over blog posts and articles, so you have my respect. However, calling me a "far left environmentalist" is anything but constructive. This is not a political issue, its a human rights issue so lets try to leave the political bickering out of it.

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#47
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Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/29/2012 2:41 PM

Your concerns all seem reasonable. I want to emphasize that TDS total dissolved solids is not applied to farming, as far as I am aware. Their input is far higher, as is that of other industries in various steams and lakes. In fact lake and stream silt, in general, is probably toxic in many areas. Fracking was first tried in 1940, and the clean and dirty ways to do it are well known, in my understanding. Enforcement of good practices is something we both agree on. I think my enthusiasm for utilizing natural gas resources is the main difference between our viewpoints. I am trying to address our economic problems as soon as possible. I feel that fracking has been demonized when it should be encouraged. That the issue should be careful, safe, and clean fracking being enforced. Any additional expense in extraction is well worth it, and still leaves natural gas as the energy of the future.

I consider myself and environmentalist, but have not renewed my membership in the Sierra Club because of their anti everything stance. I love wind, solar, geothermal, tide, wave, hydro, biofuel, and every other source of energy, except nuclear. We are not capable of guaranteeing safe storage of nuclear waste for thousands of years. I wish we could all live with solar panels that are as cost effective as natural gas. We should all IMHO try to live with less waste, and more forethought toward future generations, and mother earth. However I also want America to be financially strong, and to avoid war over oil. I own no stock, and am a retired psychiatric RN.

Fracking reference:http://www.halliburton.com/public/projects/pubsdata/hydraulic_fracturing/fracturing_101.html

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#41

Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

04/28/2012 11:08 PM
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#50

Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

05/01/2012 4:51 PM

I now understand where gaiatechnician's posts are coming from.

You won't get any more arguments from me, bud.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaia_hypothesis

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#51
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Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

05/01/2012 5:28 PM
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#52
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Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

05/01/2012 6:04 PM

Thanks for the post and link. There is another compatriot of Lovelock, Stewart Brand, who published a book on pragmatic solutions to global warming. Worth the read if you can find time. Brand presents engineered solutions to global warming and had been an ardent environmentalist for many years. It is not necessary to agree with him, just to get alternative views. I always think the hype over global warming is a bit over the top and the time lines are skewed. I do not deny anything, just what is going to happen and how severe. It happens every time a first look at an environmental issue comes to the fore. Acid rain, nuclear winter, sludge, population explosion (?), or any numerous chemical issues. They are all issues that require some attention, just less than first presented. One thing that is happening at the same time as man's increased use of fuels that emit greenhouse gases, is an increased natural problem and we may have absolutely no control. Still global warming is preferred to global cooling.

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#54
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Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

05/01/2012 7:08 PM

It makes me mad when people start suggesting that I, or anyone, wants to destroy the earth and pollute the water.

Are there corporate bad guys that may not give a damn? I'm sure there are. Those are the ones we need to watch out for.

Do I think we need to working on alternative energy sources? You bet.

It simply can't be forced and mandated. In the mean time, we work with what we've got.................and make it as safe as possible.

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#55
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Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

05/01/2012 8:31 PM

Even corporate CEOs have families and community involvement that make them responsible. At least for the most part. There were known bad guys (Mafia types) in the waste disposal business but they were eventually caught and punished accordingly. And I suppose there may be a few CEOs practicing greed and compromising the environment. I spent most of my life in the Environment field including 12 years with our Ministry of the Environment. I ran my own business from 1982 till I had failing health. I talked to a lot of corporations and found on the whole most were extremely responsible. No one could afford bad publicity and besides most would readily agree with good environment policy for the same reason we all agree. We all aspire to leave the future earth better for our kids and their kids.

Some municipalities were bigger culprits because of poor infrastructure. Especially in terms of adequate sewage treatment, collection, or storm wastes. Slowly we face these projects as money allows. Most of these problems are very expensive to resolve. Energy will be an issue till we discover the silver bullet. Maybe we should be running trains and ships on nuclear. I'd also suggest trucks and homes but I know the opposition would be high. Might make a good topic for CR4 one day. Cheers mate.

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#56
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Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

05/01/2012 8:45 PM


Natural gas is the future of energy. It is replacing dirty and dangerous coal and nuclear plants. It is producing the electricity for electric cars. It will directly fuel pickup trucks, vans, buses, long haul trucks, dump trucks, locomotives, aircraft, ships etc. Here are some links for you:https://docs.google.com/document/d/1NbaKYme3bqOw0b6KMxXSjOLHLNeflalPy9gIAiTYFMQ/edit

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#57
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Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

05/01/2012 8:54 PM

Responding to the last two posts at once:

Kevin.............money makes people make some very bad decisions. I've seen it.

Ron: You're right, natural gas looks to be the no brainer alternative at this point.

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#53
In reply to #51

Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

05/01/2012 6:51 PM

Thanks for the link. I had read it, but didn't save it.

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#58

Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

05/12/2012 10:46 AM

I take the whole bunch, and handle it from my angle. The detour may be long, but worthwhile.

1,. The stony crust of the Earth was bent and broken routinely in millions of years.

2,. The broken rock IS PERMEABLE, slowly. But, we have time, million years of it.

3,. Whatever wanted to percolate up, did already in millions of years.,

4,. The drilled hole is maybe 10 inches. The space between holes is gazillion x gazillion x gazillion times the hole diameter. Gazillion is something way off the top end of the metric scale.

5,. So, you try to feed me the natural fertilizer sandwich, that one in many gazillions is the culprit, while the many gazillions did not matter, does not matter, and will not matter?!?

6,. Professional ninnies, come again?!?

7,. This being a PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERING website, I expect the members to have at least passing familiarity with powers of 10. Do not even try to beg ignorance.

8,. Pennsylvania - as an example - had gas in its wells, before coal mining, well before any drilling, because shallow coal seams burp up gas. You really want to go there?

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#62

Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

06/17/2012 8:06 PM

This may be a bit off topic, but I'd like to include it because I can't find anything closer. I have a friend in upstate NY, and her farm well, and those on her street, all have wells with methane contamination, this was not due to fracking, it's something she's always dealt with, and there are systems that can vent the methane to the atmosphere, but it seems to me she should be able to take a dangerous nuisance and capture it for her own benefit. I was hoping someone here could steer me in the right direction. Thanks

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#63
In reply to #62

Re: The 'Fracking' Pollution Problems

06/18/2012 9:24 AM

Yes, gassy wells may easily have pre-dated fracking; that's one of the reasons water testing should be done before any drilling or other operation. I ran into a gassy well at a church south of here perhaps 20 years ago.

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