Chemical Additives in the Fracting Fluid

The reason most people are fearful of the high volume hydrofracking technique creating environmental problems is that it is well known that chemical additives to the water may be hazardous when highly concentrated.  The industry has heightened the individual concerns by refusing to disclose their proprietary concoctions of chemicals added to the water.  The DSGEIS has addressed these concerns and has offered solutions and mitigations.

THE CHEMICAL ADDITIVES

90+% of hydrofracking fluid is water according to the DSGEIS.  Approximately 9% of the volume is propant (usually sand).  The remaining <1% are chemicals designed to help in removing the fluid and gas from the well after the hydrofracking event occurs.  These chemicals have generic categories including biosides, acid, corrosion inhibitor, friction reducer, gelling agent, iron control, scale inhibitor and surfactant.

CHEMICAL DISCLOSURES

Operators must now disclose all additive products used to supply the Material Safety Data Sheet for those products so that appropriate remediation measures can be imposed if a spill does occur.  The DEC will publicly disclose information about the additive products, except information that meets the level of a “trade secret” which information the DEC will still be provided with, but will keep in the separate, secure site available to the DEC personnel in case a spill occurs.  This site will meet the DEC’s confidential business information exception to the DEC records access program.  The availability of this information, in the event of a spill, to DEC personnel, could provide both emergency and remedial assistance to any landowner adversely affected by hydrofracking fluid contamination.

Clean Water

FRESH DRINKING WATER

No single issue is of greater importance to landowners and residents in New York State than the protection of our fresh drinking water supply.  The SGEIS recommended at least six direct mitigation/avoidance measures that should protect our residents’ fresh drinking water.

UNFILTERED WATER SUPPLIES

New York City has spent billions of dollars to purchase protective easements in its watershed regions to protect the aquifers that supply its unfiltered drinking water.  Some people describe New York City’s water as the best tasting water in the world. Syracuse also has an aquifer that it receives its unfiltered drinking water from.  Both of these aquifer areas will be off limits to high volume hydrofracking operations and the buffer area surrounding them will be 4,000 feet.  Although not subject to filtration avoidance, there are an additional 18 highly productive aquifers which will be off limits to surface activities through a 500 foot buffer area around these aquifers where there can be no slight disturbances.  However, the primary aquifer areas can be accessed by horizontal drilling below the 1,000 foot level.

WELL WATER

Under the proposed new regulations, prior to drilling, operators will be required to check private wells within 1,000 feet of the drilling site to provide baseline information on the well for ongoing monitoring.  If there is no well within 1,000 feet, the survey area would extend to 2,000 feet.  This should provide landowners with the comfort of knowing that their wells will be tested and protected from degradation by the drilling process.  Additionally, any existing problem in the well can be corrected by the landowners to ensure their health and safety.  As a person who relies on well water for some use, I can say that in the 25 years since I have owned my well, I have not once tested it for contamination.  The pre-drilling test should provide information that most landowners do not have about their wells.  Additionally, the new regulations will require enhanced well casing.  That is, a third cemented “strain” of well casing will be added to the well bore to protect water resources from gas infiltration coming from the gas well bore directly into surface water wells.  To my knowledge, no other state has this requirement.

 

For more information: http://www.dec.ny.gov/energy/75749.html