Hydraulic Fracturing Chemicals Not Protected…or Known

Hydraulic Fracturing Chemicals Not Protected…or Known byPatrick Joyce, Andrew Perellis and Robert Winner, August 10, 2015, Seyfarth Shaw LLP in jdsupra.com

In two unrelated events, the Pennsylvania Appeals Court in April 2015 in Stacey Haney et al. v. Range Resources-Appalachia Inc. declined to review a trial court’s order directing Range Resources to produce proprietary information on chemicals supplied by third parties to its Marcellus Shale drilling site. The case involved a dispute over alleged personal injuries and property damage caused by contamination at the site. Even though the trial court had initially issued an order directing such third party manufacturers to disclose constituent ingredients of their products, few complied.

It then subsequently issued another order directing Range Resources to secure that information, which was appealed. The appellate court panel concluded that Range Resources had no standing to assert that it had sufficient “interest” in the chemical’s proprietary information. Rather, only the manufacturers of those chemicals had a right to assert such protection, even though Range Resources was tasked with the order of obtaining such information.

Separately in July 2015, the California Council on Science and Technology released its Independent Scientific Assessment of Well Stimulation in California and concluded, among other things, that current record-keeping on composition of ingredients used in hydraulic fracturing is insufficient to

(i) assess the direct and indirect impact on human health or the environment from “fracking,”

(ii) determine which and the level of hazardous chemicals are used in water used for fracking and their interaction with each other, and

(iii) determine the effects and impact on the waste water disposal methods.

So what did Range Resources seek to protect if current record-keeping on composition of ingredients is insufficient? Conversely, how could a court order Range Resources to obtain information on chemicals that not even government-funded regulators have? It appears the sizeable disconnect is ongoing and further thought should be put into how private business and government can work together to resolve this issue. [Emphasis added]

[Reality check on “working together” with frac companies:

As of August 11, 2015, Encana has not yet submitted their “cleaned-up” or missing records, notably, the chemicals the company injected into Rosebud’s drinking water zones:

End reality check on “working together” with frac companies]

Fracking Chemicals Linked to Cancer, According to New Report by Environmental Working Group, August 12, 2015, ecowatch

The fluids used for hydraulic fracturing in California oil wells contain dozens of hazardous chemicals linked to cancer, hormone disruption and reproductive system damage, according to a new report by Environmental Working Group (EWG).

In the analysis, “California’s Toxic Fracking Fluids: The Chemical Recipe,” EWG deconstructs drilling companies’ use of 200 unique chemicals in nearly 700 wells across the state, with each company deploying around two dozen chemicals. These chemicals have the potential to contaminate drinking water, air and soil and to harm human health.

“Fracking is inherently problematic because of the chemicals used in the fluid,” said Tasha Stoiber, EWG senior scientist and a co-author of the report. “Since California has one of the most comprehensive and transparent disclosure programs in the nation, it’s the best window we have on the specific chemicals drillers are injecting into the ground. Disclosure of these hazardous or little-known chemicals to the public is necessary to gain much needed information on the risks of fracking.”

… Of the chemicals added to fracking fluid in California, 15 are listed under the state’s Proposition 65 as known causes of cancer or reproductive harm, 12 are listed under the Clean Air Act as hazardous air pollutants known to cause cancer or other harm and 93 are associated with harm to aquatic life.

In March, EWG released its report Toxic Stew to bring attention to California’s contaminated fracking wastewater. The analysis released today gives a fuller picture of the process by revealing what is pumped down fracking wells, the likely origin of some contaminants in wastewater and the array of hazardous chemicals used, stored or transported at fracking sites.

EWG’s analysis shows why other state governments must require drilling companies to disclose the chemicals they are deploying. It underscores the urgent need for independent oversight of drilling in California and elsewhere.

The EWG report recommends that state officials:

  • Determine where less harmful alternatives can replace toxic chemicals currently used;
  • Immediately halt operations that are injecting drilling wastewater into potential sources of drinking or agricultural water;
  • Monitor groundwater in oil and gas areas and properly enforce model criteria developed under the California disclosure law. [Which oil company or state/provincial regulator will ever implement these recommendations? Reasonable recommendations to protect families and drinking water interfere with private profits!]

“California leads the nation when it comes to providing more information about fracking chemicals to the public,” said Bill Allayaud, EWG’s California director of government affairs and co-author of the report. “But full disclosure is only the first step. Now it’s time for state officials to act aggressively to make sure these hazardous substances don’t jeopardize human and environmental health.” [If that happens anywhere on earth, I will eat all my hats]

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