MAP – Tompkins

The Marcellus Accountability Project
for Tompkins County

Environmental Impacts:

EPA Study of High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing
Reports Describing Multiple Impacts

Water Contamination—General
Water Contamination with Fracking Chemicals
   Dimock, Pennsylvania
   Dunkard Creek, Along the Border Between
      Pennsylvania and West Virginia
Well and Surface Water Contamination with Methane
Surface Spills
Fresh Water Use for Hydrofracking
Air Pollution
   Greenhouse Gases
Noise
Radioactive Waste
Disposal of Toxic Waste
Adverse Effects on Forests and Wildlife
Adverse Effects on Agriculture and Wineries
Earthquakes

EPA Study of High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing

EPA Researches Safety of Hydraulic Fracturing
In 2010 The EPA's Office of Research and Development initiated a review of the safety of hydraulic fracturing.  The EPA appointed a Science Advisory Board (SAB) to develop a proposed scope for the hydraulic fracturing review.  In April 2010, the SAB accepted comments on the initial proposed scope and produced a draft advisory report in May.  In June 2010 the SAB accepted comments on this draft advisory report and submitted a final advisory report to the Office of Research and Development.  See more detailed current and background information on our Take Action page.

The EPA is now soliciting comments on:

(1) their criteria for selecting case studies for their research

(2) good sites to use as case studies

(3) the most important processes and pathways by which hydraulic fracturing can contaminate
      drinking water

(4) any data, studies, reports or other information you may have to help the EPA assess the
      relative importance of the impacts to drinking water.

The EPA held three public hearings on its study in July, and one remains to be held in Binghamton, NY on August 12, at the Events Center on the campus of SUNY Binghamton. Written comments are allowed, as well. A huge rally with music and speakers is planned for parking lot F1 during the hearings. see the Take Action page for more information.

The following link contains a great deal of useful information on submitting comments, including a thorough description of what the EPA is requesting comments on, links to documents in which the EPA describes what they are requesting input on, some webinars with background information on the proposed study, and a list of hearings and contact info:

http://www.epa.gov/safewater/uic/wells_hydroout.html#meetings

Reports Describing Multiple Impacts:

NYC DEP’s Final Impact Assessment: Superb Summary of Gas Drilling Impacts (12/23/09)
This comprehensive report by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection is an updated version of the Rapid Impact Assessment released in September 2009, but the information it contains is quite different from the previous version. Another must-read, it describes in detail the geology of the NYC watershed, including the numerous underground faults throughout the state, the rates and densities of well development expected, and the cumulative impacts—including sections on land disturbance, truck traffic, water and chemical use, spills, subsurface migration of fracturing fluids or produced brine, and wastewater disposal.

NYC DEP Rapid Impact Assessment (9/09): Excellent Summary of Gas Drilling Process & Impacts
This 90-page, thorough report by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection summarizes the issue very well, and is a must-read for everyone, especially before commenting on the SGEIS. It describes in detail the geology and hydrology of the NYC watershed in the Catskills and the gas-drilling process and potential impacts to water resources (they acknowledge other types of impacts, but water is the focus). The report includes a lengthy discussion of gas extraction operations around the country, and the incidents and impacts associated with each—the best collection of this type of information available, without searching different sites. Very nice diagrams and photos are included.

Riverkeeper's Case Studies of Incidents involving High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing (12/28/10)
"Appendix 1: Case Studies. Impacts and Incidents Involving High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing from across the Country" from Riverkeeper's Comments on the SGEIS. December 28, 2009.
An extremely well-referenced set of case studies on the adverse impacts of high-volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF) of the Marcellus and Barnett shales, as well as several operations in Colorado and Wyoming. It describes in detail 18 cases of water contamination, 5 of air and soil contamination, 3 of permit and regulatory violations, and 1 of earthquake stimulation. Riverkeeper says the studies "rely primarily on the investigations, findings, and statements of state regulators" and demonstrate that significant adverse impacts of HVHF result from a number of factors, including "improper casing of well bores, over-pressured wells, spills and accidents, gas migration via abandoned wells, the inability of wastewater treatment plants to treat flowback and produced water, underground injection of brine wastewater, improper erosion and sediment controls, truck traffic, compressor stations, and the ordinary operation of high-volume hydraulic fracturing wells."

Current and Future Gas Drilling Impacts on PA & Superb Gas Drilling Issues Overview (3/31/10)
"Marcellus Drilling Transforms the State." Hannah Abelbeck. Voices of Central Pennsylvania. 3/31/10.
This extremely well-researched article very nicely sums up the massive scale of gas drilling in PA and some of the effects to date, as well as those expected in the near future. It includes interviews with residents, researchers, and county planners. Describes how rents have increased, drinking water and streams have been contaminated and what companies have provided as compensation, and reveals that 1 in 10 PA residents don't own their own mineral rights. The article also discusses the basic drilling process, chemicals used, water withdrawal and air pollution issues, exemptions, and disposal, and describes a local citizens watch group, Waterdogs. It describes the sharp decline of gas production from Marcellus wells, and how gas companies must continually drill more wells to keep making a profit.

Hancock and the Marcellus Shale, Spring 2009, Columbia U. Urban Design Research Seminar
Subtitled “Visioning the Impacts of Natural Gas Extraction Along the Upper Delaware,” this 35-page report discusses the potential effects of gas drilling—both positive and negative—on the Town of Hancock, NY.  Includes excellent underground diagrams of how gas is held in and extracted from shale (pp. 4-5), and an overview of the gas extraction process. Looks, also, at the economic costs and benefits (pp. 16-21), tax subsidies for gas (p. 31), the history of gas production in the US (pp. 28-29), and the role of the Marcellus in energy independence for the US (pp. 32-33).  Superb photos and diagrams.

Report for Congressman Arcuri on Why Hydrofracking Should be Banned in NYS, November 2009
White paper prepared by Sustainable Otsego for Congressman Michael Arcuri, titled “Why Horizontal Drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing of Gas Wells Should be Banned in New York State.”

Wilma Subra's Testimony to the New York Senate Environmental Conservation Committee
Wilma Subra has over 30 years of experience in oil and gas regulations.  Her testimony on September 30, 2009 focussed on water issues, but also touched on hydraulic fracture reporting requirements, orphaned wells, habitat destruction, and air emissions.

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Report on Environmental Impacts of Gas Drilling
This comprehensive report details the impacts of gas drilling and suggests solutions to many of its associated problems.

National Park Service Report on Concerns with Gas Drilling
Long report describing the potential effects of gas drilling in National Parks, giving regulations to follow and recommendations to park personnel. Very nice pictures.

Fort Worth Weekly (8/26/09) Article on Recent Gas Drilling Disasters
“The Big Takeover” discusses cattle dying from drinking fracking water, earthquakes at the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, infrared videos of air pollution emanating from drill sites, storage tanks, and pipelines, and plans to drill multiple wells across from a planned elementary school.

Van Etten, NY Resident Describes the Traumas from a Gas Well on her Property
This article, “Farm Family’s Nightmare: ‘Gas Drillers Cut Corners from Day One,’ ” appeared in the Fall 2009 issue of
Sierra Atlantic. Scroll down the first page for the beginning of this beautifully written article. Candace Mingins describes why her family signed a gas lease, their regrets now, and the many ways the gas company violated their written agreements during the drilling of their conventional, horizontally-drilled Trenton/Black River well.

Toxics Targeting’s Walter Hang on Democracy Now: NY’s Gas Drilling Reg.’s Inadequate (11/10/09)
The New York-based Toxics Targeting went through the Department of Environmental Conservation’s own database of hazardous substances spills over the past thirty years. They found 270 cases documenting fires, explosions, wastewater spills, well contamination, and ecological damage related to gas drilling. Many of the cases remain unresolved. The findings are contrary to repeated government assurances that existing natural gas well regulations in the Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) of 1992 are sufficient to safeguard the environment and public health. Thus, Toxics Targeting is demanding that the DEC withdraw the draft Supplemental GEIS released in September 2009, which relies heavily on regulations in the GEIS, and develop a much more rigorous set of regulations.

Walter Hang, president of Toxics Targeting in Ithaca, went through DEC’s own database of hazardous substance spills since 1979 and found 270 incidents of wastewater spills, well contamination, explosions, methane migration, and ecological damage related to gas production in the state. More than 75% were not discovered by DEC staff, but reported by others, and many were unresolved. The findings are contrary to repeated government assurances that existing natural gas well regulations in the Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) of 1992 are sufficient to safeguard the environment and public health. Thus, Toxics Targeting is demanding that the DEC withdraw the draft Supplemental GEIS released in September 2009, which relies heavily on regulations in the GEIS, and develop a much more rigorous set of regulations.

Water Contamination—General:

Hundreds of Gas Drilling Spills and Accidents Revealed in PA, from DEP's Own Records (6/21/10)
"Hazards Posed by Natural Gas Drilling Not Always Underground." Laura Legere. The Times-Tribune (Scranton, PA). June 21, 2010.
The article details information from the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), gained through a Right-to-Know request, that reveals hundreds of spills at natural gas drilling sites in PA during the last five years (most of which have not been publicized by the DEP), recorded by at least 92 different drilling companies, including 421 violations at Marcellus shale wells in the first 5 months of 2010. Records include spills that reached waterways, leaking pits that harmed drinking water, and failed pipes that drained into farmers' fields, killing shrubs and trees. It quotes the director of a PA industry group as saying, "Any spill is a problem. For PR [public relations] reasons, for fines, for reputation, stock price - there's no good reason to have one." Revealing what actually concerns industry. All of the companies drilling in PA have had accidents. The article describes a number of representative incidents in great detail, and includes searchable databases of (1) some of the DEP drilling documents from 2005 to 2009, and (2) gas leases in PA counties of Lackawanna, Luzerne, and Wyoming. The article is part of a series on gas drilling, and contains links to many other articles, photos, and videos on gas drilling in the Scranton Times-Tribune.

Water Supply, Contamination, and Disposal Issues Related to Gas Drilling (2009)
"Protecting Water Resources During Drilling," Sue Smith-Heavenrich, Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York Newsletter, Summer 2009
Focuses on water issues related to gas drilling: what regulations govern water withdrawals, the potential for groundwater and surface contamination from the chemicals used, and the lack of good waste-water disposal options. The second article in a 3-part series.

ProPublica (10/3/09) on the Inability of PA to Handle the Volume of Wastewater Generated from Gas Drilling
Thorough article on how Pennsylvania wastewater treatment plants are accepting wastewater from hydraulic fracturing and thus exceeding their discharge limits and releasing too much TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) to surface water. TDS is extremely salty and damages streams by killing many of the living things (such as fish) in them. Currently no treatment plants in PA can remove TDS, and the first new plant won’t be ready until 2013, at the earliest; moreover, it will only be able to handle 400,000 gallons per day, whereas currently 9 million gallons per day are generated, and that figure is expected to rise to 19 million gallons per day by 2011. Meanwhile, PA is allowing the plants to continue taking the waste fracking water. The DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) does not have enough staff to inspect the plants annually, as required. Gas wells are inspected only once every 10 years now, and there are proposals to cut the budget 25% next year.


Drill for Natural Gas, Pollute Water:  Scientific American (11/17/08)
A nice summary, by Abrahm Lustgarten of ProPublica, of many of Lustgarten’s previous articles and findings about the problems associated with natural gas drilling.  Lengthy, detailed article with many references to specific incidents.

ProPublica (1/27/10): Discussion of Some of the Major Chemical Spills in Pennsylvania in 2009
"Pennsylvania's Gas Wells Booming-But So Are Spills," Sabrina Shankman, ProPublica, 1/27/10
A review of the numerous chemical spills into surface water and soil in Pennsylvania and some of the environmental damage caused by them. The spills were by a wide array of companies: Atlas Resources, Chesapeake Energy, Schlumberger, Cabot Oil and Gas, and Range Resources.

Geologic Carbon Sequestration (GCS) Poses Many Risks to Aquifers (2/12/10)
"Potential Impacts of GCS to Underground Sources of Drinking Water," by John Largey MWH Americas, Inc. and Neil Johnson, MWH Americas, Inc. Carbon Capture Journal, Feb. 12, 2010.
This article discusses the status and history of regulations on injection wells for carbon dioxide under the EPA's Underground Injection Control Program (UICP), as well as the pathways by which GCS could impact drinking water. Approximately 90% of the potential storage capacity for GCS occurs in saline formations, and leakage of CO2 or saline from these formations into overlying aquifers could threaten underground sources of drinking water.

NY Times (9/13/09) Front Page Article on Water Pollution Violations
This article, from the front page of the Sunday NY Times, exposes more than 500,000 violations of the Clean Water Act since 2004, most of which went unpunished, and describes how nearly 20 million Americans become sick each year from drinking contaminated water. Includes a comprehensive database by state of facilities with pollution discharge permits and how many violations and fines each have received.

 

Water Contamination with Fracking Chemicals:

Environmental Working Group Report on the Use of Toxic Petroleum Distillates in Hydrofracturing (2009)
"Drilling Around the Law," Dusty Horwitt, EWG report, 2009.
A detailed report on water contamination and the widespread use of toxic petroleum distillates (diesel fuel and similar substances) in hydraulic fracturing solutions. Pages 10 and 11 discuss the non-binding agreement made by some major companies not to use diesel fuel in certain hydraulic fracturing situations. These companies continue to use products very similar to diesel fuel, however. Page 13 has comments by various state and EPA regulators that sadly show confusion over what is and is not allowed in fracking fluids and who should monitor what is used. Pages 14 and 15 discuss mechanisms by which groundwater is contaminated. Pages 15 to 17 summarize important cases of drinking water contamination from the last 5 years.

Drinking Water Contamination in which Hydraulic Fracturing is a Suspected Cause 6/24/10
"Incidents Where Hydraulic Fracturing is a Suspected Cause of Drinking Water Contamination." Amy Mall. Switchboard: Natural Resources Defense Council Staff Blog. June 24, 2010.
A list of 21 incidents from all over the United States in which drinking water has been contaminated and hydraulic fracturing is a suspected cause. The author states that many cases are unreported either because (1) the homeowners don't know a nearby well is being fractured and don't mention that in their report, (2) scientists and regulators don't have the information or technology necessary to investigate, (3) scientists and regulators choose not to investigate even when hydraulic fracturing is clearly implicated, (4) some cases in which groundwater was contaminated during hydraulic fracturing operations have been attributed to other causes, such as faulty well structure, even if a well failed during the hydraulic fracturing process.

ProPublica Article (8/25/09) on Fracking Chemicals Found in Wyoming Drinking Water Wells
The latest information on private water well contamination in Wyoming by investigative reporter Abrahm Lustgarten. Includes discussion of EPA involvement and EPA's concerns that current federal regulations (or lack of) greatly hinder their ability to investigate water contamination incidents involving the oil and gas industry.

Earthworks Article (8/14/09) on Drinking Well Contamination with Fracking Fluid Chemicals
August 2009 article announces EPA's admission of toxic fracking chemicals in 11 drinking water wells in Pavillion, WY.

1.6 Million Gal. of Fracking Fluid Leaks into Colorado R. in Parachute, CO, Feb. 2008
Photo and brief description of this fracking fluid leak from a waste pit, into groundwater, and eventually into the Colorado River. Links to a December 26, 2008 ProPublica article by Lustgarten detailing many more such leaks.

ProPublica November 2008 Report on Contamination of Drinking Water
In-depth article detailing many incidents of fracking chemicals and methane contaminating drinking water.

Earthworks Article on Laura Amos' Water Contamination Story in Colorado
Personal saga of well water contamination and air pollution effects on health, and continual industry denial.

Earthworks Article on Peggy Hocutt's Water Contamination Saga in Alabama

One Family's Saga of the Effects of 60 Gas Wells within a Mile of their Home in Colorado
Includes startling photos of air and water pollution.

Pennsylvania Lawsuit says Drinking Well was Polluted by Fracking Fluid from Gas Drilling (11/09/09)
George Zimmermann, the owner of 480 acres in Washington County, southwest Pennsylvania, is suing Atlas Energy Inc., which he says ruined his land with toxic chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. Drinking water tests at three locations near gas wells on Zimmermann's property found seven potentially carcinogenic chemicals above "screening levels" set by the EPA. Baseline tests on Zimmermann's water a year before drilling began were "perfect," he said.  In June, water tests found arsenic at 2,600 times acceptable levels, benzene at 44 times above limits and naphthalene five times the federal standard.  Soil samples detected mercury and selenium above official limits, as well as ethylbenzene, a chemical used in drilling, and trichloroethene, a naturally occurring but toxic chemical that can be brought to the surface by gas drilling.

Dimock, Pennsylvania:

15 Families in Dimock are Suing Cabot Oil for Poisoning their Water (11/24/09)
15 families in Dimock are suing Cabot Oil for poisoning their water and the likelihood that exposure to toxic chemicals has led to personal injury, including neurological and gastro-intestinal complications. Among the plaintiffs is a Cabot employee and Dimock resident who has knowledge of company practices and violations that have not yet been reported. According to Leslie Lewis, an attorney with one of the firms representing the families, the charges against Cabot are far reaching and reveal a profound degree of negligence and fraudulent conduct.

15 Families in Dimock, Pennsylvania Sue Cabot Oil for Damaging Water, ProPublica (11/20/09)
Article by Abrahm Lustgarten of ProPublica on the same topic as the above article.

Three Spills in One Week Lead to Fracturing Fluid Release into Stream (9/23/09)
" DEP Issues Citation to Pennsylvania Driller as a Third Spill Occurs," Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica, 9/23/09
PA Department of Environmental Protection charged Cabot Oil & Gas with 5 violations of regulations after nearly 8,000 gallons of hydraulic fracturing fluid were spilled in two separate incidents at a well site near Dimock, PA. Cabot shut the well down after the third spill reported here. The spills were caused by pipe coupling failures and a hose rupture. The spilled fracturing fluid seeped into a nearby creek; some fish were reported killed by the leaked fluid.

PA DEP Orders Cabot Oil and Gas to Stop all Hydrofracking, Due to Spills (9/25/09)
Brief WNEP-TV news story that Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection ordered Cabot Oil and Gas to stop all hydrofracking until they have completed a number of safety and engineering tasks, as a result of three spills of over 8,000 gallons of fracking fluid that contaminated a wetland and creek near Dimock, PA, in one week. Also mentions that Cabot's drilling activities polluted a number of home water wells earlier this year.

Video (5 minutes) from ABC News: Gas Drilling and Drinking Water in Dimock, PA (11/24/09)
Video footage from Dimock showing drilling rigs, polluted water, and interviews with residents.

Dunkard Creek, Along the Border Between Pennsylvania and West Virginia:

Pittsburgh (10/4/09): Invasive Toxic Algae Possibly Transported via Drilling Equipment
Discusses the September 2009 fish kill in Dunkard Creek, in PA.  Toxic, invasive golden algae native to hotter areas in the southern and southwestern US have been found recently in the creek. In Texas, they’ve been blamed for wiping out bass populations. The article says that “Although Dunkard Creek was a popular and productive warm-water fishery with good populations of bass, catfish and muskie until the beginning of September, its water quality has been in decline since at least 2002. Discharges high in dissolved solids and chlorides have poured into the creek from [several] mine-water treatment facilities.” Total dissolved solids (TDS) are a major component of treated wastewater from gas-drilling operations, as treatment plants are unable to remove it.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (9/20/09) Likely Fracking Fluid in PA Stream Kills Aquatic Life for 38 Miles
Contamination in Dunkard Creek, on the border of Pennsylvania and West Virginia, has killed all aquatic life for the 38-mile length. Officials originally thought pollution was from discharge from a mine water treatment facility, but have now found fish kills upstream of the facility, and testing shows the pollution to be drilling wastewater. Illegal dumping of gas drilling wastewater may be occurring.

Dunkard Polluters Need to Be Punished (10/24/09)
Excessive saline and chloride in creek kill 109 species after nearby disposal of frack water. Opinion piece that those at fault should be penalized heavily.


Well and Surface Water Contamination with Methane:

ProPublica April 2009 Article on Methane in Drinking Water in PA, Ohio, and Colorado

ProPublica July 2009 Article on 52 Cases of Methane in Drinking Water in PA

ProPublica April 2009 Article on Enough Methane to Light on Fire in Tap Water in Colorado

Ground Water Contamination vs Number of Gas Wells: 12/20/08 Study by Geoffrey Thyne
Part of a detailed hydrogeologic study for Garfield County, Colorado, this report presents data showing increasing levels of methane and chloride in domestic water wells correlated with the increase in the number of gas wells in the area. Chloride is derived from produced water. Baseline pre-drilling data exists.

Video (15 sec): Lighting Tap Water on Fire Due to Methane Contamination

Wayne Independent July 2009 Article on Methane in Two Streams in Lycoming County, PA

ProPublica Detailed Series of Article on Water Contamination from July 2009 and Back


Surface Spills:

Chesapeake and Schlumberger Fined for Spilling Hydrochloric Acid in PA (12/7/09)
"DEP Fines Chesapeake, Schlumberger for Spill in Bradford County, PA," Sue Heavenrich, The Marcellus Effect Blog, 12/7/09
In February 2009, 295 gallons of hydrochloric acid leaked from a storage tank at a well site in Bradford County, PA. To contain the spill, trenches were excavated, the soil was neutralized, and 126 tons of contaminated soil and 13,800 gallons of water mixed with hydrochloric acid were removed. Chesapeake and Schlumberger state that the spill is cleaned up and that groundwater was not contaminated.

ProPublica (1/27/10): Discussion of Some of the Major Chemical Spills in Pennsylvania in 2009
"Pennsylvania's Gas Wells Booming-But So Are Spills," Sabrina Shankman, ProPublica, 1/27/10
A review of the numerous chemical spills into surface water and soil in Pennsylvania and some of the environmental damage caused by them. The spills were by a wide array of companies: Atlas Resources, Chesapeake Energy, Schlumberger, Cabot Oil and Gas, and Range Resources.

Hundreds of Gas Drilling Spills and Accidents Revealed in PA, from DEP's Own Records (6/21/10)
"Hazards Posed by Natural Gas Drilling Not Always Underground." Laura Legere. The Times-Tribune (Scranton, PA). June 21, 2010.
The article details information from the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), gained through a Right-to-Know request, that reveals hundreds of spills at natural gas drilling sites in PA during the last five years (most of which have not been publicized by the DEP), recorded by at least 92 different drilling companies, including 421 violations at Marcellus shale wells in the first 5 months of 2010. Records include spills that reached waterways, leaking pits that harmed drinking water, and failed pipes that drained into farmers' fields, killing shrubs and trees. It quotes the director of a PA industry group as saying, "Any spill is a problem. For PR [public relations] reasons, for fines, for reputation, stock price - there's no good reason to have one." Revealing what actually concerns industry. All of the companies drilling in PA have had accidents. The article describes a number of representative incidents in great detail, and includes searchable databases of (1) some of the DEP drilling documents from 2005 to 2009, and (2) gas leases in PA counties of Lackawanna, Luzerne, and Wyoming. The article is part of a series on gas drilling, and contains links to many other articles, photos, and videos on gas drilling in the Scranton Times-Tribune.

756 Gallons of Brine Spilled at Fortuna Gas Well in Van Etten, NY. (3/17/10) NEW 7/21/10
"
Update on Spill at Stoscheck Well in Van Etten, NY." Sue Heavenrich. The Marcellus Effect Blog.
756 gallons of brine spilled from a tank at a Fortuna (now called Talisman Energy) Trenton-Black River gas well in Van Etten, NY in March 2010, due to a broken valve. This short article describes why the spill occurred, and includes a link to the spill report form (which gives minimal information). The full impact of the spill on soil and groundwater were unknown as of this report; testing of samples was in progress.

 

Fresh Water Use for Hydrofracking:

Earthworks Marcellus Shale Report (see pp. 10-11)

Susquehanna River Basin Committee Powerpoint Presentation (see p. 19)

USGS Research Project Proposals Regarding Gas Drilling in the Marcellus and Utica Shale
Seven research proposals by the USGS NY Water Science Center in Ithaca are outlined in this publication, which describes the background, project summary, and potential benefit for each. The proposals are:  Areal Ground-Water Quality Assessment, Characterization of the Freshwater Aquifer System with Depth, Impact of Frack-Water Withdrawal, Geochemical and Radiochemical Characterization of Fluids and Solids, Water-Resource Impact Assessment of Drilling Pads, Wastewater/Biosolids and Receiving-Water Monitoring, and Characterization of Hydraulic Properties and Formation Waters of Deep Saline Aquifers through Gas Well Drilling. Presumably this is a 2009 document.


Air Pollution:

Earthworks Details on Air Pollutants from Gas Drilling
Extensive, detailed information on different air pollutants, their effects, and their sources.

Earthworks Detailed Information on Air Pollutants and their Sources from Gas Drilling


Video of 10/13/09 News Report on Air Pollution Report from Compressors in DISH, Texas (2.5 min.)
Article with More Details on Dish, Texas Air Pollution Study
Detailed List of Chemicals Found and their Concentrations in the Air Samples
DISH, Texas (population less than 200) commissioned its own air pollution study to determine the degradation of local air from 11 gas compression stations owned by several gas companies, including Chesapeake. Results showed levels of several dangerous neurotoxins over 100x higher than state standards, and 16 toxins above the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality limits. Toxins found include benzene, xylene, naphthalene, and dimethyl disulfide.


DISH, Texas Air Quality Monitoring: Dangerous Levels of Carcinogens near Compressor Stations, Sept. 2009
The Town of DISH, Texas, located over the Barnett Shale, is one of many that have come forward to share the negative effects of intensive natural gas extraction.  Residents have been complaining about horse deaths, human illness, and decreases in air quality that they thought were due to emissions from the many compressor stations in their area.  The gas companies did a study in May 2009 that showed no significant natural gas leaks.  In August 2009 the town funded its own independent air study, which found significant levels of carcinogens and neurotoxins exceeding the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s safety standards. These chemicals, which include benzene, dimethyl disulfide, naphthalene, and xylene, are known to be discharged from gas exploring, drilling, flaring, and compression.  This is the Final Report, prepared by the air quality consulting firm that did the monitoring.

Health Survey in DISH, Texas, Reveals that More than Half the Surveyed Illnesses could be Caused by Toxic Air Pollutants from Shale Gas Drilling (12/17/09)
Earthworks and the Texas Oil & Gas Accountability Project surveyed residents of DISH, Texas, a small town with 11 gas compressor stations, gathering information on residents’ medical backgrounds, proximity to shale gas infrastructure, experience of odor events, and associated health symptoms. Reported health problems include respiratory ailments and headaches, brain disorders, pre-cancerous lesions, and impairment of motor skills; these overlap significantly with the known effects of the chemicals already detected in a September 2009 study of air quality. Click here to see the study.

Stealth Air Tests in Dallas-Fort Worth, TX, Reveal High Methane Levels around Shale Gas Facilities
" ‘Stealth' Measurements of Air Quality Contradict Shale Gas Industry Claims of Safe Air." 3/4/10 Press Release from Earthworks and Texas OGAP.
Wolf Eagle Environmental, headed by Wilma Subra, sampled the air near Dallas-Fort Worth over two days and found methane levels as much as 20 times normal background levels. Previously, when companies spotted sampling teams they had shut down compressors and other equipment that produce emissions, but these tests were taken with new measurement technology from Picarro, Inc. from unmarked vehicles that drove by compressors and pumping facilities without slowing down, allowing the scientists to obtain results without being detected themselves. Included after the article are several links showing extremely interesting maps and graphs of the data. Editor's Note: Methane is 20 to 24 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas.

Air Pollutants, National Air Quality Standards, Health Effects, and Low-Cost Monitoring Programs for Grassroots Efforts
This short and easy-to-read information from
Global Community Monitor: Empowering Communities describes common air pollutants and their health effects, and has a table of the National Air Quality Standards for industrial, residential, and sensitive areas. It also explains terms used at a basic level and how citizens can measure air pollutants. Other parts of the website provide resources to empower local people to begin their own low-cost air (or soil) monitoring programs.

Article on Air Pollution Levels from Gas Drilling in Western States

Article on Air Pollution Levels from Gas Drilling in the Barnett Shale, in Texas

Infrared Video of Hydrocarbon Emissions from Gas Drilling in Texas
Infrared video (3 min.) by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, taken from a helicopter, showing significant hydrocarbon emissions from wells being drilled, as well as from storage tanks, water separators, and pipelines. These emissions are invisible to the naked eye.

Article on Lethal Effects of Low-level Ozone
Article describing March 18-year study in the New England Journal of Medicine in March 2009 showing that long-term, low-level ozone pollution can be fatal.

Texas Commission on Env. Quality Changes Policy Due to DISH, TX Air Pollution Studies (12/18/09)
Earthworks Press Release, 12/18/09
New policies will require TCEQ to respond to odor complaints on the same day as the complaint, or within 12-hours from receiving a complaint. Same-day odor response should make it easier for citizens to show that some of their health problems are caused by emissions from the gas industry.

Green House Gases

Howarth Refutes that Natural Gas is Clean & Safe and Promotes Renewable Energy (3/28/10)
"Gas and Drilling Not Clean Choices." Robert Howarth. Ithaca Journal. March 28, 2010.
Robert Howarth, Professor of Ecology and Environmental Biology at Cornell University, takes issue with the idea that natural gas is a clean fuel. He says that although less carbon dioxide is emitted from burning natural gas than for coal or oil, when the extraction and transport are also considered, natural gas has at least a 60% greater effect on global warming than crude oil and a similar impact to that of coal. Much of this is due to leakages of methane, which is 72 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, during natural gas production.

He gives an excellent description of the impact on the local landscape of the type of intensive gas drilling that occurs during shale gas extraction, as well as the processes and risks involved. He mentions that mutagenic and carcinogenic chemicals are regularly used in hydrofracking Marcellus shale wells in PA, and that, according to the DEC, 24 of 24 wells in PA whose flowback wastes were sampled had high levels of 4-Nitroquinoline-1-oxide, one of the most mutagenic compounds known. He also says that it is "nonsense" that surface and groundwater contamination is unlikely from drilling, considering existing evidence of contamination from other states as well as the possibility of accidents, equipment failures, and storm runoff. He expresses further concern with the understaffed, underfunded, and inexperienced (for this scale of development) DEC and the lack of Federal oversight due to gas industry exemptions from most environmental laws. He says that we have the ability to phase out fossil fuels and rely totally on renewable green technologies, such as wind and solar, within 20 years, and that the constraints to this are mostly political, not technical. He concludes that our region, rather than developing shale gas, needs to "mobilize... and provide some badly needed national leadership toward a sustainable energy future."

Howarth Refutes that Natural Gas is Greener than Other Fossil Fuels
"Preliminary Assessment of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Natural Gas obtained by Hydraulic Fracturing" Robert Howarth. Cornell University. April 1, 2010.
Robert Howarth, Professor of Ecology and Environmental Biology at Cornell University, estimates the full life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions for oil, coal obtained by mountain-top removal, and natural gas obtained by hydraulic fracturing. Although less carbon dioxide is emitted from burning natural gas than for coal or oil, when the extraction and transport are also considered, natural gas has at least a 60% greater effect on global warming than crude oil and a similar impact to that of coal. Much of this is due to leakages of methane, which is 72 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, during natural gas production. Howarth points out the need for further research, given the considerable uncertainty in the numbers for both coal and natural gas (his methane leak rate is quite conservative, actually). His bottom line: "Society should be wary of claims that natural gas is a desirable fuel in terms of the consequences on global warming."

Is Natural Gas Really "Greener" Than Coal?
Marcellus Accountability Project Fact Sheet
Natural gas production generates carbon dioxide due to all the energy used to extract and transport the gas.  In addition, methane leaks during extraction and transport add significantly to the global warming effect of natural gas use.  No full life-cycle analysis has been done for natural gas produced by high-volume hydraulic fracturing.

 

Noise:

Earthworks Detailed Information on Noise Levels from Gas Drilling

BLM Management Plan for Las Cruces, NM: Noise from Gas Drilling

This huge document describes gas drilling in NM, but Sections 3.10 and 4.2.1.7 discuss in detail the noise levels from different types of equipment involved in gas drilling, and compare it to everyday sources of noise.

Noise Effects on People & Wildlife: Links on Compressor and Other Oil & Gas Noise
Many good resources here for learning about the specific effects of noise from compressors and gas drilling, as well as the detrimental effects of other types of noise on people and wildlife. Also has links on a variety of other issues related to noise, and a separate set of links on other gas and oil drilling issues. Some interesting links not generally found on websites focused on the Marcellus shale.


Radioactive Waste:

Is Marcellus Shale Too Hot to Handle? (11/9/09) by Abrahm Lustgarten at ProPublica
Buried in an appendix of the draft SGEIS is some troubling information: DEC analyzed 13 samples of brine from 12 vertical Marcellus shale wells in Schuyler, Steuben, and Chemung Counties of Central New York and found that they contain levels of radium-226, a derivative of uranium, as high as 267 times the limit safe for discharge into the environment and thousands of times the limit safe for people to drink. This article includes a map showing the locations of test wells and the radioactivity levels found at each.

“Schuyler’s Hot” (11/13/09): High Radioactivity Levels found in Marcellus Shale Wells in Central NY
Journalist Peter Mantius of Burdett summarizes the 11/9/09 ProPublica article discussing radioactivity found in brine extracted from 12 vertical Marcellus shale wells in Schuyler, Steuben, and Chemung Counties of Central New York. He adds detail on specific wells, radioactivity levels, and possible ramifications for the state. A very nice summary of the issue.

NYS Dept. of Health Letter to NYS DEC on Health Concerns with Radioactivity in the Marcellus Shale (7/21/09)
Letter from the New York State Department of Health to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation discussing the health problems that could result from the radioactivity in production brine. They state that “If these measurements are representative of production brine from gas wells in the Marcellus, handling and disposal of this wastewater could be a public health concern. Furthermore, these data suggest that similar radiological sampling and analysis of frac flowback water is needed. Additional production brine sampling results as well as from the water treatment systems should provide information on how to resolve the concerns listed below.”

Radioactivity of Marcellus Shale: Basic Info & Comments from Town of Dryden to the DEC on the dSGEIS

Surfacing of Radioactive Wastes and Decontamination in Barnett Shale Drilling, in Texas
Article discussing how radioactive waste builds up on drilling equipment over time; the equipment must be decontaminated, and the waste is placed in barrels and buried.

Exxon Did Not Disclose Existence of Radioactive Scale on Pipes to Workers Cleaning the Pipes (1/20/10)
"Exxon Hid Radiation Risk to Workers, Witness Says," Bob Van Voris, Margaret Cronin Fisk and Leslie Snadowsky, Bloomberg.com, 1/20/10.
Despite company knowledge that the scale deposited on its pipes was radioactive, for decades Exxon sent used drilling pipes to a Louisiana pipeyard for disposal without any radiation warnings. According to workers from the pipeyard, who have sued Exxon, the company delayed disclosure of the radiation risk to prevent federal authorities from reclassifying as hazardous waste the radioactive water Exxon pumped from wells. Exxon denies any wrong-doing and stated that none of the workers in the suit have suffered any ill health effects; however, three pipeyard workers who have developed cancer were not part of the suit because they had previously settled with Exxon out-of-court. [Editor's Note: The article does not specify the location of the wells or mention the source of radiation, but an expert witness testified about radium contamination of drilling pipes from a North Sea oil platform in 1981.]


Disposal of Toxic Waste:

85% of Fracking Fluid May Remain Underground in Marcellus Shale Wells: ProPublica (12/27/09)
This thoroughly researched article from Abrahm Lustgarten discusses new information that as much as 85 percent of the fluids used during hydraulic fracturing is being left underground after wells are drilled in the Marcellus Shale. The gas industry has long argued that because most of the toxic chemicals injected underground are removed, and are not permanently discarded inside the earth, the Safe Drinking Water Act should not apply to their actions. This article discusses how this new information may affect hydraulic fracturing’s exemptions from the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Serious Problems with Waste Disposal Options Discussed in NY's Draft SGEIS: ProPublica (12/29/09)
“Drilling Wastewater Disposal Options in N.Y. Report Have Problems of Their Own”
by Joaquin Sapien and Sabrina Shankman
This thorough article discusses the three disposal options for hydrofracking wastewater (known as flowback) listed in the Draft SGEIS (treatment plants in NY, out-of-state treatment plants, and injection wells) and describes how each is not realistic. The authors contacted the wastewater treatment plants listed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) as possibilities and found that almost none will accept fracking wastewater. They also discuss some of the toxins picked up in flowback, and problems created by each.

ProPublica (10/3/09) on the Inability of PA to Handle the Volume of Wastewater Generated from Gas Drilling
Thorough article on how Pennsylvania wastewater treatment plants are accepting wastewater from hydraulic fracturing and thus exceeding their discharge limits and releasing too much TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) to surface water. TDS is extremely salty and damages streams by killing many of the living things (such as fish) in them. Currently no treatment plants in PA can remove TDS, and the first new plant won’t be ready until 2013, at the earliest; moreover, it will only be able to handle 400,000 gallons per day, whereas currently 9 million gallons per day are generated, and that figure is expected to rise to 19 million gallons per day by 2011. Meanwhile, PA is allowing the plants to continue taking the waste fracking water. The DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) does not have enough staff to inspect the plants annually, as required. Gas wells are inspected only once every 10 years now, and there are proposals to cut the budget 25% next year.


Adverse Effects on Forests and Wildlife:

10 Irreplaceable Hunting & Fishing Lands Threatened by Oil & Gas Extraction in Western U.S. (9/15/09)
This article summarizes an in-depth report, Hunting and Fishing Imperiled, prepared by Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development, a coalition of 500 sportsmen, businesses, and other organizations, detailing the potential adverse impacts of proposed oil and gas extraction on ten landscapes in Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming that are vital to game fish and wildlife. They suggest ways that energy could be developed without losing recreational opportunities or income,  but also state that responsible development in some areas means no development at all. To see the full report and an executive summary, go to: http://www.sportsmen4responsibleenergy.org/report/introduction.

Recommendations for Oil & Gas Development Without Damaging Fish & Wildlife Habitat (7/21/08)
Recommendations by Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development, a coalition of 500 sportsmen, businesses, and other organizations, based on a May 2008 symposium featuring expert land managers, scientists, and planners who met in Wyoming to develop a framework for implementing responsible energy development across the West.  The report is easy to read and gives numerous specific suggestions.

Impacts of Gas Drilling and Pipelines on Farm and Forest Land; Includes Mitigation Suggestions (2009)
"Fragmenting the Landscape, One Gas Well at a Time," Sue Smith-Heavenrich, Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York Newsletter, Summer 2009
Focuses on the potential impacts of gas drilling and pipeline construction on farming and forest land and describes steps to help mitigate them. The third article in a 3-part series.


Adverse Effects on Agriculture and Wineries

Impacts of Gas Drilling and Pipelines on Farm and Forest Land; Includes Mitigation Suggestions (2009)
"Fragmenting the Landscape, One Gas Well at a Time," Sue Smith-Heavenrich, Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York Newsletter, Summer 2009
Focuses on the potential impacts of gas drilling and pipeline construction on farming and forest land and describes steps to help mitigate them. The third article in a 3-part series.


Earthquakes:

Article on Deep-Injection Wells and Earthquakes in Texas

Article on Deep-Injection Wells and Earthquakes in Colorado

Bibliography of Scientific Research on Induced Earthquakes-mostly from Deep-well Injection



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