Fracking could produce at least 15 groundwater contaminants — study by Pamela King, July 2, 2015, E&E News
After studying hundreds of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, University of Colorado, Boulder, researchers have determined that 15 of those organic compounds may be potential groundwater contaminants.
Forty-one of the 659 chemicals culled from the FracFocus registry maintain their initial concentrations over a distance of 300 feet, the average state setback between fracking and drinking water wells, according to a paper published Tuesday in Environmental Science & Technology Letters. The CU Boulder team determined that 15 of those compounds could be hazardous if they turn up in groundwater. [What about the secret chemicals never disclosed on fracfocus in the US or Canada?]
The contaminants aren’t common. The researchers found that just two — naphthalene and 2-butyoxyethanol — occurred in more than 20 percent of the 50,000 FracFocus reports examined. Just four appeared on more than 5 percent of registry entries.
“Just because a compound has been put into the ground doesn’t mean it is going to migrate to a place where humans will be exposed to it,” said Joseph Ryan, a faculty member in CU Boulder’s civil, environmental and architectural engineering department. “On the other hand, problems with particular compounds in groundwater could take a decade or so to even show up. We don’t know enough about some of these processes right now.”
Ryan serves as the principal investigator on a $12 million grant awarded in 2012 by the National Science Foundation to CU Boulder to study responsible natural gas development (EnergyWire, Oct. 4, 2012). [Is irresponsible development included in the study? Or are the endless toxic players conveniently left out of the analysis?]
State regulations provide sufficient protection from the chemicals pinpointed in the study, said Colorado Oil & Gas Association CEO Dan Haley. “Thanks to Colorado’s strict disclosure rules, the public knows exactly what is in fracking fluid at every site in the state. These rules are designed to protect the public and the environment, and they are working,” Haley wrote in an email to EnergyWire. “There has not been a single case of groundwater contamination as a result of the fracking process in Colorado [EXCLUDING THE MANY GAGGED AND SETTLED?], and as the EPA even reported last month, hydraulic fracturing activities have not led to widespread, systemic impacts to drinking water sources.” [And the Big Lie continues in every state and province, and country. Because of trade secret exemption the public and scientists do not know “exactly what is in fracking fluid” and EPA found no such thing. EPA’s report (contradicting EPA’s own press release) clearly states the data were insufficient for them to draw any conclusions about the frequency of water contamination incidents. ]
Up next for the Colorado team is a study of the chemical products resulting from the degradation of frac fluid or an examination of potential pollutants in well flowback, said Jessica Rogers, a CU Boulder doctoral student and recipient of a U.S. EPA Science to Achieve Results fellowship that helped fund the groundwater research.
[How irresponsible is it to study the harm after the harms have already taken place on a massive scale in North America?]
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For many years, drillers have insisted that they do not use toxic chemicals to drill for gas, only guar gum, mud, and sand. While much attention is being given to chemicals used during fracking, our findings indicate that drilling chemicals can be equally, if not more dangerous.