Dear Shalers,
I'm becoming more & more concerned about possible aquifer contamination, and wondered if we ought to be looking very carefully at what's going on.
N.Y.State has put an 18 month hold on the fracing process as it reviews the potential impact on its water resources/aquifer. Penn. has allowed the process to go on unchecked. Are we missing something here? Should we be more particular about how our leases are drafted to insure that we have some recourse should contamination appear? I'm all for folks to get money/royalties at whatever they can negotiate-I'm just leery of not being able to get a drink of clean water from my own well.

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Comment by daniel cohen on March 17, 2010 at 12:00pm
Special thanks to Marie for the following information:
(I wasn't able to post the item directly, but here's a website to see the abstract of the entire article)

http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q166/dani20_photo/pollution.jpg?...

Bottom line- we absolutely need to take control of what we are getting ourselves into with gas/oil companies. For the complete many paged article contact me directly at:
cohendaniel64@yahoo.com and I'll send it to you.
Dan
Comment by daniel cohen on March 12, 2010 at 5:15pm
Dear Shalers,
Marie brought this to my attention-another horror story I'm afraid:
http://www.thepittsburghchannel.com/team4/22789965/detail.html
Dan
Comment by daniel cohen on March 9, 2010 at 10:53pm
Dear Brian,
You are suggesting the following possible remedies for the well owner to consider-"it would be nice if copies of the well permits were at a local office were the public could review, time was spent telling homeowner and well owners what the baseline data means, tell them who to call when they think there is a problem and putting in place a plan to deal with a contamination event."

That sounds like pretty good advice to me-how would you suggest that we attempt to implement it?

You further suggest- "some of this is covered in proposed legistration some is just being a good neighbor. Also, be a good neighbor - baseline testing is expensive - consider doing baseline testing for one of your neighbors if they are outside of the testing area the company is offering."

Again sound advice. I'm moving these suggestions to Aquifer Contamination -Part 2 as well.

Well said on all points Brian-many thanks for the careful thinking.
Dan
Comment by Brian Oram, PG on March 9, 2010 at 9:37pm
My answer is yes- Because of the current regulations in PA - the royality owner is the only person with the teeth to make sure or attempt to make sure the company is using good practices and is thinking for the company. Keep in mind - the royality owner is giving up over 80 % of the value - Yes they burden the cost for exploration and development - but they get 80 % of value and many of the leases provide for other benefits related to storage, subsurface injection, pipeplines, etc. The proposed regulations will much of the void, but it would be nice if copies of the well permits were at a local office were the public could review, time was spent telling homeowner and well owners what the baseline data means, tell them who to call when they think there is a problem and putting in place a plan to deal with a contamination event. Again -some of this is covered in proposed legistration some is just being a good neighbor. Also, be a good neighbor - baseline testing is expensive - consider doing baseline testing for one of your neighbors if they are outside of the testing area the company is offering.
Comment by Dee Fulton on February 21, 2010 at 12:55pm
Dear rfs,
ProPublica practices investigative journalism. They show real stories about real people. That works for me. It seems that some people just don't want to complicate their minds with the truth.
Dee
Comment by Robin Fehrenbach Scala on February 21, 2010 at 10:11am
Dee,
Please try to read something besides ProPublica and the associated anti- group rags. There is more real information out there.
Comment by Dee Fulton on February 21, 2010 at 12:12am
Finally an investigation with some teeth.

Congress Launches Investigation Into Gas Drilling Practices
by Sabrina Shankman and Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica - February 19, 2010 10:33 am EST

Rep. Henry Waxman announced Thursday that the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which he chairs, is launching an investigation into potential environmental impacts from hydraulic fracturing. (Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images)

Two of the largest companies involved in natural gas drilling have acknowledged pumping hundreds of thousands of gallons of diesel-based fluids into the ground in the process of hydraulic fracturing [1], raising further concerns that existing state and federal regulations don't adequately protect drinking water from drilling.

Rep. Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif., who released the information in a statement [2] Thursday, announced that the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which he chairs, is launching an investigation into potential environmental impacts from hydraulic fracturing.

The process [1], which forces highly pressurized water, sand and chemicals into rock to release the gas and oil locked inside, gives drillers unprecedented access to deeply buried gas deposits and vastly increases the country's known energy reserves. But as ProPublica has detailed in more than 60 articles [3], the process comes with risks. The fluids used in hydraulic fracturing are laced with chemicals -- some of which are known carcinogens. And because the process is exempt from most federal oversight, it is overseen by state agencies that are spread thin [4] and have widely varying regulations.

In 2004, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency examined hydraulic fracturing and determined it can be safe as long as diesel fuel isn't added to the drilling fluids. The agency based its decision in part on a non-binding agreement it struck with the three largest drilling service companies -- Halliburton, Schlumberger and B.J. Services -- to stop using diesel. But the agreement applied only to gas drilling in a specific type of geologic formation: shallow coal deposits. The EPA study has since been widely criticized.

The information obtained by Waxman's group shows that B.J. Services violated that agreement and that Halliburton continued to use diesel in other geologic formations not governed by the agreement. All three companies acknowledged using other potentially harmful chemicals, such as benzene [5], toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene.

A memo [6] (PDF) released by the Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday said B.J. Services acknowledged that between 2005 and 2007 it injected 2,500 gallons of diesel-based fuels into coal bed methane wells.

Jeff Smith, CFO for B.J. Services, told ProPublica the incidents in which diesel was used were isolated, and that the company has been vigilant in making sure that it has not been used since.

"The company has taken this very seriously," he said.

The memo said Halliburton reported using more than 807,000 gallons of diesel-based fuel to fracture wells in 15 states during the three-year period. But in a statement released Thursday night Halliburton said any suggestion that it had violated the agreement was "completely inaccurate," because none of the fuel was used in coal bed methane wells.

"Halliburton is firmly committed to full compliance" with the agreement, the statement said.

The information about the companies came from an investigation Waxman launched when he was chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform during the last Congress.

As part of the new investigation by the Energy and Commerce Committee, Waxman and subcommittee chairman Edward Markey, D-Mass., sent letters to eight companies, including Halliburton, B.J. Services and Schlumberger, asking for more information about the drilling process and the chemicals it requires. The five other companies -- Frac Tech Services, Superior Well Services, Universal Well Services, Sanjel Corp. and Calfrac Well Services – are smaller companies that make up a growing share of the market. They are not included in the 2003 memorandum of agreement with the EPA.

"As the use of these technologies expands, there needs to be oversight to ensure that their use does not threaten the public health of nearby communities," said the memo from Waxman and Markey.

The letters [2] ask the companies for detailed information, including documentation of all the wells they hydraulically fractured from 2007 to 2009, the proximity of those wells to underground drinking water sources [5], the volumes and types of chemicals used in the process, and any health and environmental effects of the drilling. If the companies comply, the committee will have created the most complete picture to date of hydraulic fracturing.

Smith said B.J. Services will fully respond to the request. When asked if the company has used petroleum distillates and benzene in its drilling process, he said, "I'm not going to get into the details in terms of what the chemicals are." He said that the information will be disclosed in the company's response to the committee's letter.

Halliburton also said it will respond to the committee's request for information.

Schlumberger spokesman Stephen Harris said in an e-mail that officials at the company "have received the Committee's request and are reviewing it," but he declined to comment further.

Write to Sabrina Shankman at Sabrina.Shankman@propublica.org [7] .

Write to Abrahm Lustgarten at Abrahm.Lustgarten@propublica.org [8] .

Want to know more? Follow ProPublica on Facebook [9] and Twitter [10], and get ProPublica headlines delivered by e-mail every day [11].
Comment by Dee Fulton on February 19, 2010 at 2:06pm
Dear Dan,
I think you'll find this video to be interesting. It provides examples of water contamination in Colorado and Wyoming. I feel so sorry for that mother (Laura Amos)and her little girl with adrenal tumors. And shame on industry for not 'fessing up to the presence of at least one carcinogenic compound in the frack water. Note that many personal stories of water contamination will not be told because of industry settlements requiring a gag order.
http://www.democracynow.org/2009/9/3/fracking_and_the_environment_n...
Best wishes, Dee
Comment by daniel cohen on February 13, 2010 at 8:26am
Dear rfs,
Your clarifications are appreciated. How would you suggest that we, as land owners, protect our holdings? Just leaving it to the company or regulations to look out for us doesn't seem to be the prudent way to proceed. What would you recommend we have written into the lease agreement that could address the potential situation of contamination, whether by accident, poor practice material failure, etc.?
Dan
Comment by Robin Fehrenbach Scala on February 13, 2010 at 8:16am
This is a quote from the NY DEC website regarding gas well drilling and the frac process. As I said there is no BAN and companies can still go ahead --

"While the process of preparing the Supplemental GEIS is ongoing, any entity that applies for a drilling permit for horizontal drilling in the Marcellus Shale and opts to proceed with its permit application will be required to undertake an individual, site-specific environmental review. That review must take into account the same issues being considered in the Supplemental GEIS process and must be consistent with the requirements of the State Environmental Quality Review Act and the state Environmental Conservation Law."

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