Hydrofracking: Risks and Dangers

Shale Gas Drilling and Hydrofracking:
Risky Business
Peter Hudiburg
Plymouth Friends of Clean Water
[email protected]
Well Water Contamination Has Happened
 Dimock, PA
 Bradford County, PA
 Coitsville, OH
 Bainbridge, OH
 Washington County, PA
 Butler County, PA
 Many of these and others can be tracked from the
NRDC’s Amy Mall blog – with links to articles,
environmental agency reports, etc.
 http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/amall/incidents_where_hydraulic_frac.html
 Dimock, Pennsylvania: EPA To Send Water To Town With Tainted Wells
 “EPA said the sampling data it reviewed turned up hazardous levels of
substances including:
_arsenic, a cancer-causing element that may be present in elevated
concentrations due to drilling;
_barium, a silvery-white metal and a common constituent in drilling fluids that
can damage the kidneys with extended exposure.
_DEHP, a chemical added to plastics to make them flexible, a probable
human carcinogen; also used in drilling;
_glycols, including ethylene glycol, an antifreeze commonly found in drilling
_manganese, a naturally occurring substance that is sometimes used in
drilling fluids and can damage the central nervous system if ingested.”
 Buried Secrets: Is Natural Gas Drilling
Endangering U.S. Water Supplies? by
Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica, 14 Nov 2008,
 “Tests in Sublette County showed
contamination in 88 of the 220 wells
examined, and the plume stretched over 28
miles. When researchers returned to take more
samples, they couldn’t even open the water wells;
monitors showed they contained so much flammable
gas that they were likely to explode.”
 http://grist.org/?p=26818
 EPA Releases Draft Findings of Pavillion, Wyoming Ground
Water Investigation for Public Comment and Independent
Scientific Review Release Date: 12/08/2011.
 Findings in the Two Deep Water Monitoring Wells: “EPA’s analysis
of samples taken from the Agency’s deep monitoring wells in
the aquifer indicates detection of synthetic chemicals, like
glycols and alcohols consistent with gas production and
hydraulic fracturing fluids, benzene concentrations well above
Safe Drinking Water Act standards and high methane levels.
Given the area’s complex geology and the proximity of drinking
water wells to ground water contamination, EPA is concerned
about the movement of contaminants within the aquifer and
the safety of drinking water wells over time.”
 http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/0/EF35BD26A80D6CE38
Stephanie Hallowich and family, Washington Co, PA,
"Stephanie and her family complained that their well water supply had been
contaminated and that their two children had been exposed to volatile
organic compounds from the drilling operations in the water and air.
"Ms. Hallowich, said that water tests found ethylbenzene, toluene, styrene
and tetrachloroethylene -- all cancer-causing organic compounds. She said
the air and water contaminants caused them to experience burning eyes,
sore throats, headaches and earaches. They've had to pay about $500 a
month to have water delivered to the farm.
"Range Resources settled with the Hallowiches for some undisclosed
amount but the settlement contains a gag order."
Stephanie Hallowich Speaks Out. http://pafaces.wordpress.com/2010/04/23/stephanie-hallowich-speaks-out/
Here’s the Dream Home that Stephanie and her husband built in the country.
Water ---Butler County, PA
Several families fought hard to keep their replacement
water after their wells were contaminated. But Rex
Energy ordered the water company to remove
their water buffaloes. Some of the people had
One Connoquenessing family which depended on a
water buffalo provided by Rex is now staying with
relatives, unable to care for their newborn with a
limited water supply.
Mr. Fair, of Connoquenessing Pa., is faced with using this well water after Rex
Energy removed his water tank.. Photo by Diane Sipe
Help Butler County Families Hurt by Gas Drilling Now!
February 24, 2012
Federal Scientists Warn NY of Fracking Risks, by
Dusty Horwitt, Senior Counsel, February 22, 2012
"The U.S. Geological Survey widely regarded as
impartial and authoritative has warned New York
State regulators that their plan to allow drilling and
hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in the Marcellus
Shale could endanger private water wells, municipal
aquifers and New York City’s drinking water supply."
Federal Scientists Warn NY, Horwitt (cont)
"The U.S. EPA has written the NYS DEC arguing that
they are ill- equipped to regulate a boom in shale gas
drilling and have limited financial means to enforce
the numerous new regulations they have proposed.
The EPA has raised additional concerns, among them, that
NYS has understated the severity of radioactive
pollution associated with drilling and doesn’t know
how such contaminants would be disposed of."
Abandoned Wells
 Deteriorating Oil and Gas Wells Threaten Drinking Water
Across the Country By Nicholas Kusnetz and ProPublica | April 4, 2011,
Scientific American
 "In 1989, the Government Accounting Office found nine cases where
abandoned wells had contaminated groundwater, including one Kentucky
case that rendered the water for more than 80 households
undrinkable. The GAO said its findings were incomplete and warned that
state agencies didn't have the funds to track and plug the growing number
of abandoned wells."
 "In 2008 the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission found that states
had located nearly 60,000 wells that needed to be plugged -- and
estimated that as many as a million more may be out there.
 "In the last decade, New York has managed to plug only about
125 of its estimated 40,000 deteriorating wells."
Engineering Expert Calls Fracking a “Chillingly Effective and Thorough
Method” of Poisoning Drinking Water
by Paul Hetzler, former Environmental Engineering Technician with NYS
“If your well goes bad, neither you, nor your children, nor their children
will ever be able to get safe, clean water back…. Chemicals injected into the
aquifer will persist for many lifetimes.
“Since contamination can show up months or even years after a pollution event, I’d
advise all residents near a hydrofracturing operation to get monthly lab analysis on
their water for several years after drilling ceases. Obviously this is quite a
Water test results, he warns, may depend on who does the testing. Based on Hetzler’s
DEC experience, he does not have complete confidence in gas companies ….
 http://www.stuarthsmith.com/engineering-expert-calls-fracking-a-chillinglyeffective-and-thorough-method-of-poisoning-drinking-water
Engineering Expert, Paul Hetzler, (cont.)
“A drinking water well is never in ‘solid’ rock. If it were, it
would be a dry hole in the ground. As water moves through
joints, fissures and bedding planes into a well, so do
contaminants. In fractured media such as shale, water
follows preferential pathways, moving fast and far, miles
per week in some cases.”
Abandoned Wells Endanger Water
Report for the Delaware River Basin Commission on
Natural Gas Development Regulations, Dec 9, 2010 by Paul A.
Rubin, April 9, 2011:
“The DRBC must plan to protect the water resources of the
Basin in perpetuity. This requires looking beyond short-term
impacts… to problems that may not occur until 100 years from
now or more. As the DRBC plans for the 100-year flood, so too must
[they] plan for the 100-year break-down of well cement and casing.
“The rate of groundwater flow, along with contaminants in it, is
relatively slow, typically taking many years, decades or longer to reach
distant wells and streams. This time frame contrasts sharply with both
the approximately 4 to 20 year productive life of gas wells….”
Abandoned Wells Never Die
 How Fracked Gas Wells Become a Conduit of Pollution, OR why
hydraulic fracturing of gas wells will lead to gas and other materials
migrating to the surface via natural and induced faults and the well
bore itself. Marc Durand:
 http://www.damascuscitizensforsustainability.org/2011/12/how-fracked-gas-wellsbecome-a-conduit-of-pollution/
 These videos are animations made by Marc Durand, Honorary Professor of
Engineering Geology, Earth Science Dept, Univ. of Quebec.
 QUOTE FROM Marc Durand: “The commercial extraction leaves 75-80% of the
methane in all shales…. [This] long term life of the future abandoned and aging
wells” [presents] “a serious threat for the future generations and a cost much greater
than the short term $ benefits.”
 To see more about the underground salts corroding the cement casing as well as the
metal piping SEE Prof. Durand’s paper, “SHALE GAS – A BUSINESS PLAN VERY
MUCH IN THE RED” http://fracdallas.org/docs/busplan.html
Gas Wells Leak (Ingraffea)
Fractured Future by Anthony Ingraffea, the Dwight C. Baum
Professor of Engineering at Cornell University
"Fluid migration is not rare. For example, industry
researchers Watson and Bachu, in a Society of Petroleum Engineers
paper in 2009, examined 352,000 Canadian wells and found
sustained casing pressure and gas migration. They found
that about 12 per cent of newer wells leaked, considerably
more than older wells. …[T]he process is getting worse, not
"Cluster drilling facilitates and prolongs intense
industrialization and leaves a larger, more concentrated,
and very long-term footprint, not a smaller and shorter
Gas Wells Leak (Muehlenbachs)
Identifying the Sources of Fugitive Methane Associated with
Shale Gas Development, (Slide 13) Karlis Muehlenbachs, Department of
Earth and Atmospheric Sciences University of Alberta Edmonton, Canada
From Schlumberger, Oilfield review :
"Poor cementing and tubing failures lead to gas migrating to
surface, causing: Sustained casing pressure, Surface casing gas,
Soil contamination, Aquifer contamination.
"Note: gas can leak from production tubing or from anywhere
up the well bore "
Gas Wells Leak (Muehlenbachs)
Problems and poor cementing are common and lead to gas
migration and sustained casing pressure (Slide 14) (From
Schlumberger, Oilfield review) "In 15 years 50% of wells leak."
Gas Wells Leak (Muehlenbachs)
"More than 70% of casing gases do not come from target zone, but
from intermediate layers." (Slide 16) EPA HF Workshop, March 10-11, 2011, Arlington, VA
TSA Inc. http://www.propublica.org/article/deteriorating-oil-and-gas-wells-threaten-drinking-water-homes-across-the-co
Air Pollution
Fracking: EPA Targets Air Pollution From Natural Gas Drilling Boom
"In March, pollution from natural gas drilling in the Upper Green River
Basin in western Wyoming triggered levels of ground-level ozone, the
main ingredient in smog, worse than those recorded in Los Angeles,
one of the smoggiest cities in the U.S.
"In Dish, Texas, a rural town northwest of Dallas, the state's
environmental regulators detected levels of cancer-causing
benzene, sometimes at levels dangerous to human health, likely
coming from industry's 60 drilling wells, gas production pads and
rigs, a treating facility and compressor station.
"The gases escape into the atmosphere during drilling, from storage
tanks, compressors along pipelines and other equipment."
NG Not a “Clean” Alternative
Robert Howarth, PhD
The David R. Atkinson Professor of Ecology & Environmental
Biology at Cornell University
Howarth’s original April 12, 2011 paper
Methane and the greenhouse-gas footprint of natural gas
from shale formations by Howarth, Renee Santoro & Anthony Ingraffea
Howarth's New Paper:
Venting and leaking of methane from shale gas
development: response to Cathles et al. by Howarth, Renee Santoro
& Anthony Ingraffea
Greenhouse gas footprint of shale gas and other fossil fuels
(20-year analysis; methane given in CO2 equivalents,
assuming Global warming Potential = 105)
Indirect CO2
MJ of per
per Carbon
Grams carbon
Direct CO2
Low Estimate
High Estimate
Shale Gas
Low Estimate
High Estimate Surface-mined Deep-Mined
Conventional Gas
Diesel Oil
PINK = Methane emissions during initial flow-back period, routinely and continuously at the well site, during liquid
unloading, gas processing and during transmission, storage, and distribution
RED = indirect emissions of CO2 from fossil fuels used to extract, develop,
and transport the gas
BLUE = Direct emissions of CO2 from combustion of the fuel at end use
(Howarth et al. 2011)
Greenhouse gas footprint of shale gas and other fossil fuels
(100-year analysis; methane given in CO2 equivalents,
assuming Global warming Potential = 33)
Grams Carbon
per MJper
Grams carbon
Indirect CO2
Direct CO2
Low Estimate High Estimate Low Estimate High Estimate Surface-mined Deep-Mined
Shale Gas
Conventional Gas
Diesel Oil
PINK = Methane emissions during initial flow-back period, routinely and continuously at the well site, during liquid
unloading, gas processing and during transmission, storage, and distribution
RED = indirect emissions of CO2 from fossil fuels used to extract, develop,
and transport the gas
BLUE = Direct emissions of CO2 from combustion of the fuel at end use
(Howarth et al. 2011)
Human Health - Ruggiero
When Drilling
Starts: Holes in
the Ruggiero's
Property Values
& Landowner
By Christine
Ruggiero, Wise
County, TX:
This Aruba Petroleum well is 400 ft from kitchen window. Meanwhile the
NYS DEC setback from a house is still only a 100 feet.
Human Health - Ruggiero
“we have experienced several spills, what appears to be a methane
seep where the bubbles ignite, and constant emissions from
various stages of the extraction process.
"We have several TCEQ air studies and private environmental testing
that show exceedances including benzene at 120 ppb.
"Our ten year old, Reilly, was recently diagnosed with asthma. And
I have experienced rashes, nausea and memory loss. Tim has loss
of sensation in his extremities. We have scheduled medical testing with
an environmental doctor.
"In September, the Wise County Appraisal Board devalued their property
75%. Originally on the 2010 tax rolls for $257,330, their home and 10acre horse property are now worth $75,240." "I could not sell this
house in a clear conscience." said Patsy Slimp, their former real estate agent."
Human Health - Parr
Bob and Lisa Parr, Texas VS Aruba Petroleum,
“When Lisa started having balance and other neurological
problems her doctor recommended she see an environmental
specialist whose tests detected chemicals in her blood and
lungs that match the results of TCEQ's air sampling.
"Bob Parr, 50, only had 3 to 5 nosebleeds in his entire life. In the last
year he has had about 3 per week. Bob and seven-year-old
Emma Parr sometimes have simultaneous nosebleeds. Bob
also experiences loss of balance and neurological problems.
Emma was recently diagnosed with asthma. She has also
suffered rashes and nausea.
"After receiving Lisa's test results, her doctor advised them to
leave their home within 48 hours. They are now living in Bob's
office space where there is no drilling nearby. Their health is
greatly improved.”
Human Health - Parr
"Emma Parr and her father Bob began having nosebleeds
after moving in to a home surrounded by gas wells."
Human Health - Frederick
Coitsville, Ohio: Jaime Frederick suffered a tumor
that grew out of her intestine as large as a grapefruit and
repeated liver and kidney infections, pains throughout her
body, trouble breathing, rapid heartbeat and many other
unexplained symptoms after moving into her recently
renovated new home in Coitsville, OH. She suffered these
symptoms for 3 years before she learned that gas wells had
been drilled in her vicinity.
At that point the well drilling company came into her
neighborhood and decided to drill as close to her house as
the law would allow. She found that the only thing she
could do was to get a baseline water test. The results
revealed high levels of barium, strontium and
toluene from hydraulic fracturing and drilling.
Human Health - Frederick
Jaime Frederick testimony cont.:
Once the company started drilling they couldn’t
sleep from all the noise, vibrations and
explosions, even with earplugs, earphones and
their radio playing. She, her husband and dogs
are now subjected to a brine tank that leaks onto
the ground and periodic loud venting of gas from
a pressurized storage tank that smells like rotten
eggs and diesel fumes placed just outside their
bedroom window.
Human Health - Stiles
They Are Afraid Their House Could Blow Up: Meet the Families Whose
Lives Have Been Ruined by Gas Drilling, AlterNet, by Nina Berman, Bradford
Co, PA:
“Carl Stiles' home sits abandoned, inches of snow left untouched on the front steps. He
left with his fiancé in mid-November after their blood tests showed high levels of
barium and their home had radon levels three times the limit. They had
been experiencing a myriad of health problems for months.
"I had tremors on my right side, constant headaches, numbness. We both
had heart attack symptoms," said Stiles, 45. Water tests in his well showed
high levels of methane. A hole erupted in their front yard and spewed out a
mysterious froth.
"Chesapeake gave the couple bottled drinking water but denied responsibility. Stiles
said visits to local doctors were frustrating. He believes they discounted the possibility
of chemical poisoning and he suggested there was a conflict of interest because
Chesapeake gives so much money to area medical centers. Finally, a toxicologist in
Philadelphia told them to stop drinking their water and leave their home.
They haven't been back since.”
Human and Animal Health –
Bamberger & Oswald
"Two cases involving beef cattle farms inadvertently provided control and
experimental groups. In one case, a creek into which wastewater was allegedly
dumped was the source of water for 60 head, with the remaining 36 head in the
herd kept in other pastures without access to the creek. Of the 60 head that were
exposed to the creek water, 21 died and 16 failed to produce calves the
following spring. Of the 36 that were not exposed, no health problems were
observed, and only one cow failed to breed.
"At another farm, 140 head were exposed when the liner of a wastewater
impoundment was allegedly slit, as reported by the farmer, and the fluid drained
into the pasture and the pond used as a source of water for the cows. Of those
140 head exposed to the wastewater, approximately 70 died and there was a
high incidence of stillborn and stunted calves. The remainder of the herd (60
head) was held in another pasture and did not have access to the
wastewater; they showed no health or growth problems."
Earthquakes, Aquifers and Hydrofracking
U.S. Geological Survey, New York Water Science
Center Comments on the Revised Draft Supplemental
Generic Environmental Impact Statement
"The fault map, "mapped Geologic Faults in New York
State", presented as figure 4.12 in the revised dSGEIS (fig.
7), grossly under represents the number and extent of
faults in the Appalachian Basin of New York. The fault map is
outdated and does not include the results of many publications
summarized below that have mapped additional faults and
should be considered."
Earthquakes, Aquifers and Hydrofracking
shows a web of deep basement faults that criss-cross NYS. He
concluded: "not only are there more faults than previously
expected in NYS, but also, many of these faults are seismically
active." Further, “most cultural facilities (e.g., waste disposal sites,
bridges, pipelines) are not far from a potentially seismically active fault”
(Jacobi, Basement Faults and Seismicity in the Appalachian Basin of NY,
p.75, 105).
"NY has a history of earthquakes, e.g., 91 earthquakes since 1973 in an
area Jacobi denoted as “high risk”- just 30 miles from the NYC Watershed
(USGS Earthquake DataBase). There is also a “history” of induced
earthquakes and fluid injection into gas wells from the 1960s, e.g., the UK
(Bowland Study), OK (OK Geological Survey), TX, AK, Alberta, BC, and
(Nikiforuk, http://www.energybulletin.net/print/59848) and OH (Fountain, NYT,
Jan 1, 2012).
Earthquakes, Aquifers and Hydrofracking
Rubin, hydrogeologist, Hydroquest. Press Conference: Fracking: The Geology of
Aquifers and Earthquakes, Jan. 23, 2012, Legislative Office Bldg, LCA Room 130.
Geologists: Paul Rubin and Arthur Palmer, Sponsored by: Schoharie Valley Watch and
Sustainable Otsego
Geologist Paul Rubin, “Excessive lubrication of faults and fractures with highly
pressurized hydraulic fracturing fluids, bolstered by repeated
hydrofracturing episodes, may result in fault activation and bedrock
settlement [earthquakes].
"Rubin estimates the life of an aquifer to be about 1 million years, while he
pegs the estimated life of a gas well between 4 to 20 years and that of an
abandoned gas well filled with cement and steel between 80 to 100 years. He
adds that even the smallest of cracks could allow natural gas to seep into
aquifers and potentially trigger earthquakes."
Earthquakes, Aquifers and Hydrofracking
Report for the Delaware River Basin Commission Consolidated
Administrative Hearing on Grandfathered Exploration Wells To
Delaware Riverkeeper Network and Damascus Citizens for
Sustainability by Paul A. Rubin HydroQuest, November 15, 2010
"Ground motions from even one significant earthquake, among many that occur
over time, may catastrophically shear numerous gas exploration and well casings
or, at the very least, may result in fracturing and loss of integrity of well casing
cement designed to isolate freshwater aquifers from deep saline waters. As such,
earthquakes may instantly destroy the integrity of hundreds of gas wells, thereby
forever and irreparably compromising the hydrologic integrity of geologic
formations that formerly protected freshwater aquifers. Restoration of
contaminated freshwater aquifers is probably not possible, thus well failures from
any single or combination of mechanisms is likely an irrevocable commitment of
natural resources."
Earthquakes, Aquifers and Hydrofracking
Fracking and quaking: They're linked, The Tyee on Fri, 11/18/2011, by Andrew
"In 1962, the military started pumping chemical waste into a disposal well drilled two miles
underground. The injection of fluids then triggered an astounding 1,500 earthquakes
between 1962 and 1967."
"After the military stopped injecting waste due to protests, three earthquakes greater than 5
on the Richter scale rocked Denver area, resulting in more than $8-million worth of
property damage. Scientists later blamed the earthquakes on fluid injection that unbalanced
an existing fault or fracture.
"A decade later, after the rapid depletion of sour gas pools near the Strachan Gas plant
outside of Rocky Mountain House, Alberta triggered 143 earthquakes in 23 days with
magnitudes as great as 3.5."
Earthquakes, Aquifers and Hydrofracking
Technical Justification in Support of Requiring Cabot to Immediately
Resume Water Deliveries to Adversely Impacted Residents of Dimock,
PA [Public statement made at a press event in held in Dimock, PA on Dec. 6,
2011], Paul A. Rubin
"First, let’s dispel the question as to whether or not groundwater between gas
wells and homeowner wells has become and remains contaminated. It has and
will continue to be. Worse yet, it is likely that the contaminant level will rise slowly
to a peak and then subside slowly over decades or centuries.
"Fractures and faults are important contaminant transport pathways It is along
these pathways that natural gas, metals, surfactants, and other contaminants have
already moved from upland areas down gradient to homeowner wells. This
demonstrates that pathways are open now and moving gas field contaminants. "
Earthquakes, Aquifers and Hydrofracking
Technical Justification in Support of Requiring Cabot to Immediately
Resume Water Deliveries, Rubin (cont.)
"Prior to gas drilling activities, Scott Ely’s groundwater was clear, potable, and did
not require filtration. Within the last two weeks, this water sample was found to
have lead and manganese at 5.8 and 10 times State MCL levels and arsenic at 15
times the State MCL level. Data received within the last few hours revealed an
aluminum concentration of 28 mg/l, some 140 times the State MCL. This is cause
for great concern. Aluminum is a potent neurotoxin that may be linked to
dementia, including Alzheimer’s like health symptoms. Similarly, iron was
detected preliminary findings also indicate the presence of low level hexanes,
octanes, and decanes. However, the high pH of the water indicates the presence of
SIGNIFICANT other frack-related chemicals that are both unknown and untested
–chemical compounds that do not have MCLs – chemicals that potentially present
long-term chronic exposure to toxins and carcinogens."
Letter from 250 health professionals to Gov Cuomo
"There is a growing body of evidence on health impacts
from industrial gas development. In Texas, Wyoming,
Louisiana, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and other
states, cases have been documented of worsening
health among residents living in proximity to gas wells
and infrastructure such as compressor stations and
waste pits. Symptoms are wide-ranging, but are typical
for exposure to the toxic chemicals and air and water
pollutants used in oil and gas development and can
often be traced to the onset of such operations."
Letter from 59 scientists to Governor Cuomo:
"We the undersigned scientists write to you regarding the ability
of municipal drinking water filtration systems to adequately
remove contaminants of the sort found in return fluids from
hydraulic fracturing, should they somehow enter the water
system. The State has proposed that hydraulic fracturing not be
allowed in the watersheds of the New York City and Syracuse
water systems (where no filtration occurs), but be allowed in
watersheds where drinking water is filtered before use. The
presumption appears to be that municipal water filtration plants
provide protection from potential contaminants. The best
available scientific information does not support this
presumption." http://www.scribd.com/doc/65121866/Sign-on-Letter-Final
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