Journalism in the Public Interest

Regulation and Disclosure of Fracking at the Center of Gas Drilling Debate

The use of a mix of water and chemicals, known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has generated controversy and a series of studies, orders and regulations in 2010 from the federal government and a number of states on the topic of gas drilling.

« Return to Story

Sort by: Oldest Newest  <  1 2

S. Baker

Jan. 3, 2011, 7:52 p.m.

Mr. Swanson and Mr. A- Thank you both.

I don’t particularly see the point in debate or misinformed (sometimes purely ignorant) attacks. I would much prefer answers to simple questions, via simple means, and courtesy from both parties.

That said, with the multiple emails I received from Pro Publica that there had been new responses, I admit that I am so far disappointed, but eagerly waiting nonetheless.

Marjorie Lofland

Jan. 3, 2011, 9:54 p.m.

Tell me about the concrete casings being used to prevent the flow of introduced fluids outwardly. What kind of concrete or cement is that? My basement leaks! I would like to get some of that good stuff that doesn’t leak. The shale around my house is harder than the concrete too. What ever would shatter the shale, wouldn’t it also shatter the concrete, or is the concrete not only waterproof, is it also harder than rock? I really would like to know!

Owego, NY landfills do not accept sludge that is radioactive. That is why they use Geiger counters - to assure that fact, making your comments true and correct that none of the mud placed in the Owego, NY landfills is radioactive. Nothing was mentioned about what they turn away.

Correct me if I am wrong, “Matter can neither be created nor destroyed” still is true. Accepting that chemical configurations can be manipulated and altered from one combination to another by way of altering temperature, pressure, etc…, but if you put something into the ground that has the ability to shatter shale and dissolve the solids already there, what is the formula used to convert all this to brine and KCL? You have me puzzled. This one, I really do want to know.

Kilgour Farms

Jan. 3, 2011, 10:14 p.m.

“Matter can neither be created nor destroyed”.

I believe its “ENERGY” can neither be created nor destroyed. Its called the Conservation of energy under the first law of thermodynamics.

Owego has not received any drilling mud that is contaminated. None have been detected, if it was you would have heard about it.

Cement using polymer additives and or grout can be designed to withstand pressures of over 18,000psi.

Frank Kline

Jan. 4, 2011, 8:44 a.m.

I just read about concrete withstanding pressures over 18,000 psi. To my knowledge concrete can withstand very high pressure in compression, only. In a well the pressure is pushing out on a tube of concrete with much more pressure on the tube’s inside. This makes the concrete under great tension where it has much less strength. I think that is one reason rebar and post tensioning is used to combat this weakness. If there are leaks in the casing - what to do then. For profits sake are they going to redrill a well when you have all that compressor power, I doubt it? I could be all wrong, so correct me if need be.
  I read recently that gas drilling companies are objecting to lining their fracking fluid holding ponds. It seems to me that even with the best liner there will [have] been leaks and spills in the surface.
  Has anyone mentioned the hundreds of water tanker trucks running around back roads not designed to carry these loads. How about noise at these industrial well sites [24-7 compressors running]
  All this has got to have a totally negative impact on rural life.
  If all this gas is produced will locals be consumers? Most don’t have access to natural gas for home use. Gas companies are like oil companies, their product goes where the highest profits can be made, here or abroad. Alaskan oil to Japan is an example of this.

Kilgour Farms

Jan. 4, 2011, 11:25 a.m.

Page 11 has a good illustration of how wells are cased using multiple steel tubing and cemented layers (strings).

Most companies at least in the NE are using containerized systems for flow back or closed loop recycling systems and reusing the fluids, liners are becoming a thing of the past at least in the NE US.

Marjorie Lofland

Jan. 5, 2011, 5:13 p.m.

Beautiful publication by West Firm Law. It did answer a lot of my questions and with a bit more research, I realized how complex the terminology is also.

The “mud” is the slurry used to keep the drilling bits cool and the surrounding garbage pressure from clogging the drilling channel, Brandon, you are right, it is mostly KCL with the other chemicals introduced to maintain the slurry at relative constant pressure. It cannot be contaminated with radioactivity unless radioactive material is added or found in the area being drilled. Both are possibilities, especially when oil based muds are used. At least, the diesel fuels used in oil based muds are toxic and would be found in the flowback.

Brandon Moore

Jan. 5, 2011, 7:08 p.m.

Actually Marjorie, the drilling mud is to hold the bottom hole pressure back and prevent a blowout. Your “mud weight” needs to be the equivalent or greater than the bottom hole pressure to prevent the well from “coming in on you” as we say. If it weren’t for the high pressures from most of these formations then you would be able to just drill with fresh water and a light friction reducer. Most wells are drilled with water based mud until they get down to the high pressure pay zone. At that point there’s already at least 2 different casings cemented in the ground to prevent the oilbase mud from contaminating any water tables that was argued over in previous posts.
  Water based mud is allowed to sit to let the PH level to come down after the rig has gone. They actually bring out heavy duty sprinklers to spread the mud out over a pasture. Water based mud is actually a good fertilizer!  Oil based mud is actually reused. Mud companies buy it back and recondition it for reuse. You don’t really see oil based mud flowed back after a frac job because the production casing has been cemented in and they usually spot 15% HCL (hydrochloric acid) before each stage of a frac to help break down the formation an to eat away the mud cake and cement where the frac is entering the formation from the wellbore. Sorry to draw this out, but I speak from real experience in the field, not just a report or a video on the Internet.

Marjorie Lofland

Jan. 5, 2011, 11:16 p.m.

Brandon,It was easy to surmise the information you were giving was genuine and first hand. There are enough honest people around, but there are also enough yahoos to mess things up. Given, the accidents, spillage, great volumes of backflow being unaccounted for, wear on existing roadways, low volume of radioactive materials being introduced into, not just streams, but watershed streams and land disturbances within the watershed, is it really in the best interest, in your opinion and you don’t have to answer this, of the people who need this water in a usable state? Considering the number of wells proposed to be drilled within the next 10 years, is it at all possible to prevent degradation of the water quality to the point of being unsafe to drink? I am not yet convinced this is a good location for these wells.

Commenting is not available in this section entry.
This article is part of an ongoing investigation:

Fracking: Gas Drilling’s Environmental Threat

The promise of abundant natural gas is colliding with fears about water contamination.

Get Updates

Our Hottest Stories