Kaiser To Pierce The 'Heart of the New West'
... While Others Take A Stab At The Surrounding Arteries
Move over Calgary Stampede, there's a new attraction about to be unleashed - fracking has made its way to the big city. Not surprising really, companies have been relentlessly fracking cities and towns in the US for a while now.
Fortunately for us, we don't need a crystal ball to see into the fracking future of collateral damage, we need only look to our neighbors in the south to witness the devastation that's occurring - ironically at the hands of some of our Canadian companies. As well, we can refer to our own rural Albertans, some of whom have been devastated by this inhumane experiment and what invariably follows.
In Alberta, when your water well ... pfffft ... becomes an energy well, you're on your own. Horrific, don't you think?
Imagine, after years of relying on good, safe water, not only is it destroyed, but it's an extreme hazard, and could in fact - kill you. Imagine government promised alternate safe water deliveries that are ripped away and promises reneged. Whom does that benefit exactly? Who suffers? And how does that help people who now find themselves without a life source, inhabiting a now unsafe environment and abandoned by a government whose role it is to ensure the protection of people and the environment on which we all depend? Unfortunately if you look closely - after the frack - you'll find there's no accountability, responsibility, compassion, conscience, common sense, integrity, humanity and tragically - no fix. But the government, regulators and companies would have us believe something else - that this is natural - a 'naturally occuring' inconvenience. Well, the finite resources they're hunting for are natural - no one put them there - but what's not natural is the 'brute-force and ignorance' married to a cumulitively infinite amount of chemicals and water with which they're rapidly attempting to pulverize and break them loose, as well as the unbelievable amount of toxic waste that's generated and spread, leaked, spilled and increasingly alarming - intentionally dumped into our necessities of life.
But let's say we believe the government when they mimic industry assurances that this is indeed just nature spontaneously releasing the deadlies she's kept locked up. Shouldn't they be alarmed that now, after millions of years, she's letting them loose and the list of communities and people affected by this new 'natural' disaster is growing at an alarming rate? Would it not appear as though we have a 'natural' disaster epidemic on our hands and citizens need to be protected?
These 'naturally occuring' escapees are explosive and deadly, and include carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, neurotoxins, radioactivity, etc. As they rip through communities, shouldn't it be incumbent on the government to warn, protect and stand up for people? There are lives at risk. Even victims of naturally occuring tornadoes get a heads-up, someone's watching out for them, and after their homes and lives are wiped out, people and governments mobilize to offer assistance.
Why in Alberta do we ostrasize and abandon our citizens when they become victims of a 'natural' disaster? Or make the inane suggestion that people are responsible for battling it on their own, like undertaking the dangerous task of venting sour gas into the environment when their wells go bad - what if there are a hundred families experiencing the same 'natural' disaster?
At the very least, why don't we have a military-like radar alert system to notify residents and shoppers when explosive, odorless methane is suddenly breaching our homes and department stores after twenty years, or a batman like beacon that let's you know your water is going to turn black and poisonous or disappear? Or an ear splitting horn that lets people know two energy wells are talking to each other and they just released the latest 'naturally occuring' who-knows-what?
Is the government even looking into this? How will they get a handle on nature's gag reflex? How many decades will that take? How will they assist people, animals, wildlife and industries when the water, air and land we all rely on for survival goes bad at the hands of mother nature? And are they putting together an emergency response to the health crisis that will surely follow?
Well they'd better get a move on, a million people are about to be unnaturally fracked ... or flatlined by a new 'natural' disaster.
Please Be Patient While They Try To Figure Out The “Kinks” ... And Have A Go At Each Other
Scandinavian Oil.Gas Magazine, March 28, 2013
Birch Lake Energy Inc. says that Bernum Petroleum Ltd. has filed a statement of claim against Birch Lake regarding the Company's Lochend Assets, being the non-operated working interest of 40% in certain petroleum and natural gas rights underlying 7,760 gross acres (2,718 net) in the Lochend-Bearspaw area of Alberta. ...
... The Company has taken immediate steps to vigorously defend this claim and preserve its rights in the joint venture assets including a detailed review of the completion operations on the initial well which led to the apparent collapse of the production casing string during the frac operation and the resulting loss of more than half the productive well bore. The Corporation is also conducting a detailed review of the drilling operations of the second well during which intermediate casing was not able to be successfully run to depth drilled, resulting in drilling difficulties during the horizontal section and the eventual loss of the horizontal section after nearly reaching total depth. ... more.
"Shale oil wells reach peak output almost immediately but quickly decline, so new wells are constantly needed."
He noted that the Bakken-Three Forks region in North Dakota required 90 new wells per month to maintain production of 770,000 barrels per day.
... Maugeri said the number of American shale oil wells in North Dakota and Texas could soar from the current 10,000 to more than 100,000 working wells by 2030.
... A key distinction between shale oil production and conventional oil wells is the intensity of drilling required to extract shale oil. Maugeri said this drilling intensity required for shale oil will limit production in densely populated areas, especially in Europe. He noted that the Bakken-Three Forks region in North Dakota required 90 new wells per month to maintain production of 770,000 barrels per day.
... Maugeri also emphasized the contrast between financing shale oil wells vs. wells for conventional oil. Shale oil wells cost far less to drill and bring online, which makes it easier to increase drilling when oil prices are high ... more.
The assault Greeley, CO, is undergoing because of this court decision should be frightening to the citizens of every city underlain by shale deposits.
By Phillip Doe, June 27, 2013 Ecowatch
Many people used to think serving on city council wasn’t worth a bucket of warm piss, as Roosevelt’s first vice president, John Garner, famously described his job.
... Most people might rather watch an evening of Survivor reruns than go to a council meeting in their city. But not anymore. Not in Colorado since the invasion—or threat of invasion—by the oil industry into cities and towns up and down the Front Range. Colorado city council chambers now are flooded with citizens outraged by the regal indifference of the industry and their swarm of drones who are found at every level of local government, right up to the Governor himself, John Hickenlooper, who bragged to Congress not long ago that fracking fluid was safe to drink. He knew because he had drunk some to no ill effect. This caused a local wag to proclaim, “the jury’s still out until somebody does an independent study of the Gov’s brain function, ’cause there’s obviously some crazy chemistry working up there.”
The industry’s ace-in-the-hole is a mind-numbing determination by the Colorado Supreme Court back in 1992 that local citizen rights, including the rights of self-determination, are subservient to oil and gas mineral rights and profits. Many see the decision’s “looking glass” logic as a full frontal attack on the rights of the governed and the constitutional guarantees associated with Colorado home rule cities and towns.
Chief among the court’s arguments was the proposition that for the state’s oil resources to be developed to their maximum, cities and towns couldn’t be allowed to establish their own set of rules. The court reasoned that might discourage development of the state’s resources. What these arithmetically challenged men and women in black didn’t account for is the fact that the cities and towns of Colorado, all of them, constitute less than two percent of the state’s land base. The other 98 percent is available and would seem to provide adequate opportunity for development, and exploitation.
The assault Greeley, CO, is undergoing because of this court decision should be frightening to the citizens of every city underlain by shale deposits. This includes Denver proper, which has largely missed the debate up to now. Indeed, the limited open space available to the industry within cities will result in highly concentrated, heavy industrial, polluting and environmentally exempt oil colonies, as Greeley’s experience reveals.
... For the people of Greeley that 1992 court decision has meant the presence of 426 wells within the city, but all are of the old (before horizontal fracking) variety. A total of 1,600 are rumored to be on the planning horizon, but only the industry knows. The state has no master plan, none is envisioned, and by virtue of the 1992 decision, the cities have little say.
As I wrote several weeks ago, the Greeley city council, despite the tearful reasoned arguments of concerned mothers and the untearful reasoned arguments of medical and science professionals, approved the drilling of 16 horizontal wells only 350 feet from homes in a development called Fox Run, and about 200 feet from some businesses, shown as Sheep Hollow on the location map. The new rules taking affect on August 1 will require a 500-foot setback from residences, with a 1,000-foot setback from hospitals, schools and high density housing. But the early approval voids these new setback standards.
Guess what? The same oil company, Mineral Resources, Inc., is right back at it. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), the state agency with dictatorial power over people and cities on all matters oil and gas, approved two new drilling proposals within the city, one for 67 horizontal wells on a pad, and another for 37 wells. A local company, Mineral Resources has been busy for a number of years buying the city out from underneath the residents, unbeknownst to most of them.
Readers should decide for themselves whether the people in the 23 neighborhood homes counted in the survey, impersonally termed houses by Mineral Resources, are in harms way. Readers might also want to know if the census boundaries from a public health standpoint shouldn’t be expanded to one mile since a recent study by Dr. Theo Colborn (unfortunately the only peer reviewed study of its kind).
The study recorded air borne chemicals and pollutants a mile away from a single well site, with measurements actually increasing once drilling ceased and operations began. Many of the chemicals Dr. Colborn measured have no established health limits, but this does not mean that they aren’t potentially harmful. Not knowing does not mean they are safe. For example, most people, with maybe the exception of Gov. Hickenlooper (D-CO) and Greeley’s city council, would not argue that because you’ve never been struck by a Black Mamba, you can conclude that no harm would come to you if you were to be.
... Try to visualize what it would be like to witness the continual roar of 18-wheelers delivering and then removing water, chemicals, sand, pipe, heavy equipment, etc. The truck trips alone required to drill 37 wells and the other necessary equipment such as storage tanks, well heads, separators and flares—all of which emit methane and other chemicals, might come to over 64,000 truck trips. Since all the 37 wells would probably not be drilled at once, but in increments of four to five at a time, the neighborhood could expect 24/7, Kleig lights turning night into day, heavy noise from drilling and rumbling trucks, and constant dust laced with chemicals. They can expect this in two to three week increments, several times a year, over two to three years, maybe longer. And even after production was in full throttle the neighborhood might still witness another 6,000 production trips annually.
Though the state continues to ignore studies like Dr. Colborn’s, it promises its own study someday, but urges caution so as not to pillory the industry with incomplete data. This was the message of the state’s head of Public Health and the Environment, Dr. Chris Urbina, as he represented the state, successfully, in opposing a legislative plan to start collecting data on medical reports from citizens living or working near oil and gas developments. Fortunately, he resigned last week, but not because it was discovered he didn’t understand the Hippocratic oath.
... From a human impact perspective, one is drawn to the school at the top of the illustration, Frontier Academy Charter Elementary School. It houses more than 600 students, kindergarten through sixth grade, and is less than 500 feet from the well pad boundary. The new rules would require a thousand foot setback, and one must presume Mineral Resources is aware that by getting approval before Aug. 1 they are exempted from the new rules. A Walmart is also located nearby, as are a number of other warehouses and businesses. Habitat for Humanity’s warehouse may have to be draped in crepe, or renamed.
It may occur to some that such massive industrialization, as these permits endorse, should have undergone strenuous internal environmental review, particularly with regard to air quality since it is known that large amounts of methane and volatile organic compounds escape from fracked oil and gas operations, and that Greeley is in the state’s Ozone non-attainment area. According to a recent University of Colorado study, methane escaping from natural gas operations is responsible for 55 percent of the ozone in this area—sunlight converts methane to ozone. Add to this that Cornell University scientists’ estimate that horizontal fracking leaks 40 to 60 percent more methane into the atmosphere than conventionally fracked wells. At some point the convergence of this information should cause reflection under the precautionary principle.
But the state remains unconcerned, since these wells will employ storage tanks and other technology, called green completion, for holding the chemically laced wastewater and flaring off some of the fugitive methane. Under this scenario, no further review is required by the state. Cumulative impacts are religiously ignored. And this is what the industry and state call the toughest regulations in the nation. Pity the nation, but pity the people of Greeley even more.
With regards to truck traffic and water use the South Greeley site would require almost double the truck trips and material required for the Mid Town site since it has almost twice the wells. It’s quite possible that given the volume of water required the city might extend city water lines to these sites. Even so, about 50,000 truck trips would be needed during construction and 10,000 truck trips annually during operations to collect oil and wastewater. Some might consider this significant from a local and regional impact standpoint.
... The unrest of the local population may begin to be measured when Energy Resources, Inc., comes before the city council in the near future seeking a Special Review exemption for their 104 new wells. Because the state has already approved the drilling proposals, they are exempted from the new setback standards. The city council will be looking, primarily, at whether the new wells are compatible with their 2020 Comprehensive Plan for the city. It states in part that:
Assuring the development of a safe and pleasant community; improving the visual appeal of the community; … [to] Disallow high impact agricultural and heavy industrial land uses that generate obnoxious influences, such as noise, fumes or hazards.
When the city council was confronted with 16 wells at Sheep Draw several weeks ago, they voted (7-0) in favor of approval. This was despite overwhelming opposition from an overflow crowd of citizens.
Imagine the reaction when the public learns of another 104 new wells to be followed by hundreds and hundreds more, presumably. The people are fast realizing that Greeley is becoming an oil colony for the benefit of the few and the detriment of the many. ... more.
Will A Promise Of A Dream, As City Drilling Gets A Special Look ...
By Chris Varcoe, May 9, 2013, Calgary Herald
Sutherland says it’s time the government revise outdated energy policies and take into account concerns of residents.
Nearly a year after controversy flared over plans to drill an oil well in a growing northwest Calgary suburb, Alberta’s energy minister promises the province will complete a review of the rules surrounding energy development in urban areas by the end of 2013. ... more.
... Be Broken By The Reality Of A Nightmare?
The Speaker: Good afternoon. Let us pray.
We confidently ask for strength and encouragement in our service to others. We ask for
wisdom to guide us in making good laws and good decisions for the present and the future
of Alberta. Amen. ...
Dr. Swann: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Rural Albertans have lost trust in the ability of this
Environment minister to protect groundwater and their safety. Growing rural concerns about
increasing gas migration into water have been dismissed as fearmongering by this minister.
One week ago in Spirit River a private well exploded, burning and hospitalizing three men.
Alberta Environment has been investigating and receiving complaints about this well for over
three years. ...
Mr. Speaker, after two years of complaints from people like the Zimmermans, Ernsts,
Lauridsens, and others, how can we believe this department is protecting their health and doing
a proper investigation of the complaints? ... more.
Baytex's Chief Operating Officer Marty Proctor, who has visited the area himself, says the air quality there is better than what he experiences in Calgary
... Residents are encouraged to seek medical treatment and get medical testing for their ailments, says ERCB's Barter.
By Erin Steele, June 6, 2012, Record-Gazette
Shortly after the turnoff from Highway 2 about 15 kilometres south of Nampa, one passes a yellow Children Playing sign on the right hand side of the dirt road. Shortly after that, the towering black storage tanks start appearing, grouped together and containing bitumen- some venting, others equipped with a flaring system through which excess gas is burned off, some with a gas gathering system in place to minimize what joins the atmosphere.
Interspersed throughout this area are residences, mostly belonging to that of the Labrecque family - Andy Labrecque, who still lives in the area with his wife Joyce - amongst much of their extended family, bought the land at 18-years old through what was then known as a homestead sale.
A little farther down the road is metal side-paneling hanging from a fence and off poplar trees with spray-painted red lettering reading: 'Baytex we deserve clean air' and 'forced evacuations in progress.'
One of those so-called 'forced evacuations' is Alain and Karla Labrecque, who have lived in the area since Koch Exploration first developed the property and sold it to Prosper Petroleum, which drilled more wells before it was purchased by Baytex Energy in February 2011. Since entering the picture, Baytex has drilled five wells, adding to the approximate 41 total in the area.
The Labrecque's say the air quality is affecting their lives and causing negative health symptoms. Baytex's Chief Operating Officer Marty Proctor, who has visited the area himself, says the air quality there is better than what he experiences in Calgary, though the company remains concerned. The Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) has dispatched a dispute-resolution team to act as a mediator between the residents and the company.
Alain and Karla and their young children began to experience health problems in Dec. 2010, before Baytex purchased the property, and say they tried to attribute it to everything else before the surrounding development.
"I spent so long trying to blame it on ourselves, our house. You just keep eliminating all of what it could be of our stuff," Alain told the Record-Gazette.
According to Karla, they could not have fathomed having any negative from the industry they believe is vital to the economy.
"We were excited when the oil came, this was on his Dad's land. We were very excited when it first started coming around. Right on, your Dad's getting some oil activity, right? Never dreamt it would cause this. Never."
By March 2011 though, Alain and Karla's process of elimination left nothing else to blame.
"We figured out what it was. It was the smell. Whenever the smell was bad, the day after we had symptoms," Karla said.
Karla suffered from almost constant headaches, would sometimes lose her balance, and if she turned her head to far the left, dizziness would overcome her to the point of almost passing out, she explained. She went to a doctor who put her on decongestants for two months thinking it was a problem with her ears. With no change in her symptoms she went to a specialist who attributed it to her sinus', which were red, thought there was no pus or mucus build-up.
This never went away.
According to Alain, he didn't realize his symptoms were symptoms until the family moved out of their home, one year after they started noticing issues. ... more.
"Good-Neighbour" or Polluter and Tormentor?
Watch the News Clip
"I blame the ERCB (Alberta's energy regulator). They are not doing proper monitoring and are withholding data. They are responsible for this going on for years. They have lied to us more than the company. I don't know how they sleep at night."
By Andrew Nikiforuk, March 2, 2013, TheTyee.ca
Another Alberta pollution scandal has forced as many as six residents from their homes and poisoned scores of other citizens near the Peace River Oil Sands in the northwest corner of the province.
"It's a desperate situation," said Vivianne Laliberte who moved into her son's place last October after being repeatedly "gassed" from emissions from oil sands operations just 5 kilometres from her 85-year-old farm.
"There are a lot of sick people but they don't have the money to move," Laliberte told The Tyee. Her farm is located 48 kilometres south of Peace River.
Emissions from heavy oil extraction and storage facilities owned by Calgary-based Baytex Energy Corp., a heavy oil producer, forced her and her husband to abandon their property.
"But I don't blame the company," added Laliberte.
"I blame the ERCB (Alberta's energy regulator). They are not doing proper monitoring and are withholding data. They are responsible for this going on for years. They have lied to us more than the company. I don't know how they sleep at night."
Greg Melchin, a former Alberta Energy Minister and Tory politician, sits on the board of Baytex Energy.
Darin Barter, spokesman for the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERBC), says the board "continues to take this matter seriously. We have worked directly and frequently with residents, industry and other government agencies on these concerns."
Barter adds that the ERCB has assigned an extra inspector to the region and that "the ERCB is currently examining our regulatory options that may assist in resolving this issue."
But residents, many of whom were recently profiled in a three-part CBC series, say the province has failed to regulate hydrocarbons being vented off of hundreds of bitumen storage tanks in the region.
"There are no regulations on heated bitumen products. The carcinogens coming off those tanks are just crazy," says 50-year-old Carmen Langer, who worked in the industry for two decades.
His ranch, located 27 kilometres north of Peace River, is surrounded by hundreds of wells and hundreds of bitumen storage tanks.
"Three generations built this farm and now industry pollution is taking it away from us," says Langer, who recently sold his cattle. "We're done. I won't sell my home contaminated. We're not that kind of people."
Langer, who calls bureaucrats and politicians every day for action on bitumen vapour recovery, recently presented a $3.8-million bill to the province for land contamination and property devaluation.
"The government is mental not to deal with this situation," said Langer.
But Ian Johnson, an independent scientist with a PhD in chemistry who has advised citizens on the inadequacy of government air monitoring, does not think the government has any interest in regulating.
"Industry isn't contravening any regulations because there are none that I know of. It's a case of colossal mismanagement," explained Johnson.
Bitumen deposits around Peace River vary greatly in quality, sulfur content and thickness. Some deposits can be recovered with steam injection while others use a cold production method known as CHOPS. It pumps both bitumen and sand to the surface from 600-metre-deep deposits. The ultra-heavy oil is then stored in heated tanks (up to 120 degrees) where gases can build up. Once vented into the air these toxic fumes can travel for miles.
A 2003 Shell Bitumen Handbook notes that bitumen fumes from heated storage tanks can "result in the irritation to the eyes, nose and respiratory tract and headaches and nausea" and adds that exposure should be minimized. Moreover, emissions from storage tanks can contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) as well as hydrogen sulfide, a deadly neurotoxin even at small levels.
Pollutants also change with the quality of heated bitumen stored in the tanks. One Australian study found that measured off-gassing pollutants included PAH, benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene and xylene, chloromethane and acetone.
Another family gassed by Baytex's operations recently set up their own website documenting their ordeal as environmental refugees in Canada's wealthiest province. (See sidebar)
"I have two young children who I initially thought were going through a clumsy stage related to either a growth spurt or simply due to their age but now I know that they were being poisoned," writes Karla Labrecque on her website. [StopBaytex.ca]
"My three-year-old looked like he was a ghost most days while my two-year-old would repeatedly lose her balance while sitting and fall off furniture. Since making the difficult decision to leave our farm, both my children have made dramatic recoveries but I can't help but think about what long-term effects they may suffer."
... 'Get yourself out of the area'
Laliberte told The Tyee that rural residents who have sought medical help also had trouble finding physicians "who dared look into the matter, fearing repercussions. One person was told by a specialist, 'I can't do anything. Get yourself out of the area.' Another was told, 'I don't want to hear about it anymore. You need a lawyer, not a doctor.' This happened in three different centres in the province."
Johnson, who has criticized air monitoring in the region as fraudulent, has also called the ERCB's response to the pollution totally inadequate in letters to Environment Minister Diana McQueen.
After receiving a pollution complaint on Jan. 4 from rancher Carmen Langer (the rancher has since found dead deer in his yard after pollution events and has now sold all of his livestock), the board initiated its so-called "Peace River Cooperative Odor Complaint Protocol."
It consists of asking heavy oil producers in the region such as Shell, Penn West, Baytex and Murphy to dispatch "staff or agents to check its facilities and review activities from the previous 24 hours." In most cases, such ad-hoc investigations reveal "nothing identified."
In the region, Shell has remodified its storage tanks to capture their toxic emissions while other companies have not.
'Committed to producing oil safely': Baytex
According to the Peace River Record Gazette, the ERCB has responded to more than 600 complaints, 400 inspections and 1,300 investigations in the Three Creeks/Reno area over the last two years with little change in emissions reduction.
Yet the ERCB website makes no mention of these ongoing events and concerns. "We do not post personal information or details around landowner concerns or official complaints on our website for FOIP reasons," explained Barter in an email.
Baytex's website declares that the heavy oil producer believes "in keeping best practices and the needs of our neighbours and partners in mind when operating our business and when sharing a community space." ... more.
A Life Lesson: When A Company Contaminates Your Water, Don't Try To Bring It With You.
Any attempt to filter the water would be futile since the gelatinous material would clog the filter in a very short period of time. Such things as sodium, fluoride, high alkalinities and extraneous materials are not easily removed in home type supplies. A new source of water is suggested for the Parsons residence.
This isn't Kaiser's first rodeo, reportedly their US arm has been implicated in water contamination linked to fracking going back to the 1980's.
The West Virginia Department of Public Health’s Environmental Health Services Lab collected and tested five samples of Parsons’ well water between June and November 1984. On Nov. 8, James E. Rosencrance, chief of the lab, wrote to Perry Merritt, a water official in Jackson County, regarding tests on three of the samples:
“... an evaluation of the three reports (copies enclosed) would indicate that this water supply is contaminated from a chemical point of view, which may have resulted from oil and gas drilling operations in the vicinity of the Parsons water supply. It is not unusual to find high alkalinity, high fluoride, high sodium and high total dissolved solids in the underground water in that particular area of Jackson County, but is (sic) would be unusual to find the gelatinous material which we isolated unless it had been used by the drilling industry. This laboratory has identified the presence of hydrocarbons in one of the samples, which is indicative of petroleum type products. The laboratory is not familiar with the chemical characteristics of this well previous to the samples analyzed in July, August and September of 1984. Any attempt to filter the water would be futile since the gelatinous material would clog the filter in a very short period of time. Such things as sodium, fluoride, high alkalinities and extraneous materials are not easily removed in home type supplies. A new source of water is suggested for the Parsons residence.
... According to legal records in the Parsons case, Kaiser commissioned BCM, a company based in Dunbar, W. Va., to conduct its own test of Parsons’ well in November 1984. In March 1985 it commissioned a second test by NOWSCO Well Service Ltd., based in Calgary, Canada. NOWSCO concluded that “these results are indicative of very fresh water... no contamination from frac water is evident in the sample from the water well.” The BCM report did not draw a conclusion.
BCM, NOWSCO and the West Virginia state lab did not report testing for benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene or xylene (known as BTEX), common pollutants in drilling and fracturing, nor did they report testing the chemical composition of the gel. An employee at BCM’s office in Plymouth Meeting, Penn., said the company no longer has a laboratory and she did not know how to reach those who worked for the lab in the 1980s. NOWSCO is now owned by B.J. Services, one of the world’s largest hydraulic fracturing companies, according to a representative who answered the phone at NOWSCO’s former office in Calgary. A phone message left last November for one of the NOWSCO representatives listed on the lab report was not returned ... more.
Proposed Oil Wells - Calgary
Alarmingly, assessments for the first Kaiser oil well near Walmart in NW Calgary, to be punched in this summer in a populated area, reportedly show a formation that is 'predicted to bear sour gas'.
The well site in the SE/4 28-25-02 W5 is approximately 2.73 hectares. The well will be drilled, logged and reviewed for potential.
Based on this information a horizontal well may be drilled ...
... if production proves to be economic there is a possibility of three more wells each with their own separator and pump jack but all using the same pipeline that would be installed initially.
There will be no off lease odors. As there will be oil on site there may be some odors similar to when a paving crew is laying asphalt on a road. Noise associated with the drilling, completion and equipping of the well will be related to common processes and equipment used for these operations. Examples are noises from large gas/diesel engines, equipment warning beepers, heavy truck traffic, bull dozers, cranes, clanging of pipe and metal ...
Heavy truck traffic will occur during parts of all operations. The drilling rig move in and out will require approximately 30 truck loads of equipment in one day. Then daily one or two trucks when needed. Completion operations will require approximately 15 truck loads of equipment the first day then two or three trucks daily as needed.
When the well is fracture stimulated there will be in the order of 20 trucks required ...
'The greatest health impact corresponds to the relatively short-term, but high emission, well completion period.'
Published on March 19, 2012, News-Medical.Net
In a new study, researchers from the Colorado School of Public Health have shown that air pollution caused by hydraulic fracturing or fracking may contribute to acute and chronic health problems for those living near natural gas drilling sites.
"Our data show that it is important to include air pollution in the national dialogue on natural gas development that has focused largely on water exposures to hydraulic fracturing," said Lisa McKenzie, Ph.D., MPH, lead author of the study and research associate at the Colorado School of Public Health.
The study will be published in an upcoming edition of Science of the Total Environment.
The report, based on three years of monitoring, found a number of potentially toxic petroleum hydrocarbons in the air near the wells including benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene and xylene. Benzene has been identified by the Environmental Protection Agency as a known carcinogen. Other chemicals included heptane, octane and diethylbenzene but information on their toxicity is limited.
"Our results show that the non-cancer health impacts from air emissions due to natural gas development is greater for residents living closer to wells," the report said. "The greatest health impact corresponds to the relatively short-term, but high emission, well completion period."
That's due to exposure to trimethylbenzenes, aliaphatic hydrocarbons, and xylenes, all of which have neurological and/or respiratory effects, the study said. Those effects could include eye irritation, headaches, sore throat and difficulty breathing.
"We also calculated higher cancer risks for residents living nearer to the wells as compared to those residing further [away]," the report said. "Benzene is the major contributor to lifetime excess cancer risk from both scenarios."
... McKenzie analyzed ambient air sample data collected from monitoring stations by the Garfield County Department of Public Health and Olsson Associates Inc. She used standard EPA methodology to estimate non-cancer health impacts and excess lifetime cancer risks for hydrocarbon exposure.
McKenzie noted that EPA standards are designed to be public health proactive and may overestimate risks.
"However, there wasn't data available on all the chemicals emitted during the well development process," she said. "If there had been, then it is entirely possible the risks would have been underestimated."
The report concludes that health risks are greater for people living closest to wells and urges a reduction in those air emissions. ... more.
The same fracking operation goes on through the night. December 2012, Mountain View County, Alberta
A proposal to drill for oil less than half a kilometre from a northwest community has residents up in arms.
The site is crown land, within Calgary city limits, in the community of Royal Oak.
The oil company and regulators say nearby residents have nothing to worry about but judging from the tone of a community meeting this afternoon many residents are not convinced.
Angry words were expressed Saturday at a packed public meeting in northwest Calgary.
At issue, plans to drill an oil well near the community of Royal Oak.
Most residents oppose the drilling
Standing at the well site, the general manager of Kaiser Exploration says he's confident his well will cause no problems ... 'We feel this is a very good place to drill a well if you look at it on its merit.' ... more.
What About The Toxic Drilling Waste? When They Drill Up Cities, Where Will All The Waste Go?
A Park? A Playground? An Exec's Manicured Yard?
About 1.2 barrels of solid waste are created with each foot drilled, according to the American Petroleum Institute. Simply to reach the approximate 8,000-foot depth of a Barnett Shale gas well, drilling creates more than 9,600 barrels, or 403,200 gallons, of solid waste. That does not take into account any horizontal drilling performed after reaching that depth. For the 14,000 Barnett Shale wells drilled so far, the waste would cover the entire city of Fort Worth in more than an inch of drill cuttings, slurry, heavy metals and other toxic compounds.
By Spike Johnson / For the Denton Record-Chronicle and Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe / Staff Writer
Published: 31 March 2011
It's 3 a.m.
Dick Ross lies awake in bed as 18-wheelers crawl past his house. Their headlights stream through his window. They are waiting to dump drilling waste on a corn farm 50 feet from his front door. The concoction is a mystery to him, except that when it blows through the air, it strips the paint off his house.
For two years, he has fought the Texas Railroad Commission over permit violations involving the dumpsite, submitting photos of trucks dumping waste at all hours of the night and letters demanding that his neighbor's dumpsite be tested for contamination, as required by law. His campaign to shut down the dumpsite triggered threats of litigation from the waste haulers and a giant pile of e-mail correspondence from commission staff, attorneys and scientists assuring him that the dumpsite doesn't pose any health risks.
Today, sitting on the wooden porch of his rural Hillsboro home in Hill County, Ross, 64, contemplates his plans for a peaceful pursuit: raising South African Boer goats on his small 10-acre farm.
"My advice to anyone dealing with the gas industry: Sell your whole place, get the hell out," Ross says. "They cheat you out of your money, wreck your view and destroy your property value."
Yet, even as he contemplates retirement, the former educational supplies salesman is continuing his fight against the Railroad Commission's permitting process by providing guidance to others who are protesting dumpsites in their own communities.
Ross and other farmers find it hard to reconcile Texans' storied love of the land with the growing practice of spreading tons of drilling mud and other toxic waste across it, a process euphemistically called "landfarming."
As the state's permits for natural gas drilling in the Barnett Shale region soar, more and more parcels of the Texas prairie are being turned into dumping grounds for disposing of the industry's waste - increasing the thousands of approved "landfarms" already in existence.
About 1.2 barrels of solid waste are created with each foot drilled, according to the American Petroleum Institute. Simply to reach the approximate 8,000-foot depth of a Barnett Shale gas well, drilling creates more than 9,600 barrels, or 403,200 gallons, of solid waste. That does not take into account any horizontal drilling performed after reaching that depth. For the 14,000 Barnett Shale wells drilled so far, the waste would cover the entire city of Fort Worth in more than an inch of drill cuttings, slurry, heavy metals and other toxic compounds.
The Environmental Protection Agency is set to study much of the lifecycle of hydraulic fracturing - the controversial process of pressure-pumping chemical-laden water to release the gas - including the final disposition of millions of barrels of wastewater that flows back with the gas.
But far less attention has been paid to the tons of drilling mud and other solids being spread across the land.
Some landowners open their gates and bank accounts to the industry's need to dump the waste, oblivious to environmental risks. While official eyes are averted, permits to dump are stretched beyond their limits. And as neighbors eye each other with increasing distrust, millions of gallons of toxic waste are spread on the land, sometimes overflowing into waterways, sometimes becoming airborne and blowing across the prairie.
The 986 square miles of Hill County has around 35,000 residents. Much of the land is owned by ranchers and farmers.
"These people believe what they're told - that this waste is safe," Ross says. "Now their crops won't grow."
The landfarm near Ross' home was properly permitted within the regulations current at that time, according to Railroad Commission spokeswoman Ramona Nye. After Ross complained to the commission, an inspector tested the landfarm for NORM, naturally occurring radioactive material often present in drilling waste, and found readings "within background levels for NORM" in the soil, Nye wrote in an e-mail.
The Railroad Commission has jurisdiction as long as the soil is on the ground. Once dried and airborne, that's a different matter.
The agency doesn't have jurisdiction over air quality - that belongs to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
This land is perched above the Barnett Shale, a 350 million-year-old rock formation beneath much of North Texas. The U.S. Geological Survey has estimated the Barnett Shale contains about 30 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves. Currently the largest natural gas play in the world, industry officials say, the Barnett Shale is a source of significant corporate profit and the country's natural gas transformation.
In 2008, Ross noticed changes in his view after XTO Energy Inc. secured permits to dump the equivalent of 35 Olympic-sized swimming pools of drilling waste on the Kimbrell family farmland opposite his front door.
Lines of trucks would form through the night to dump their loads, which were later found to be outside of permit regulations. Ross made open records requests of the Railroad Commission and found that the daily toxicity tests for the waste, required by state rules, were never carried out or enforced. Ross began to worry for the health of his animals as a white dust from the landfarm opposite settled on their grass and feed. He worried about a decline in his property value, too.
"I could feel the air sting my skin and make my eyes burn," Ross says.
His complaints sparked threats of legal action. The landowner and family living on the farm next door even followed him when he went to town, Ross says. Trucks would sound their horns and spin their wheels as they passed his house.
... As the line of dump trucks grew, Ross became determined and decided to take action alone. By putting enough pressure on state officials, he hoped to force the closure of the disposal site.
"If I didn't stick up for myself, no one was going to," Ross says.
He sits in worn armchair in his front room, wearing carpet slippers. His black Labrador sits at his feet as he gazes out of his window. His house wall and the narrow asphalt road are all that separate him from the 111-acre dump next door. He has no choice, he says, but to watch the quagmire of brown earth and toxic waste being smeared around the landscape by rusty bulldozers.
... Ross estimates from the permit limits that more than 2 million gallons of drilling mud were dumped on the landfarm next door.
Drilling fluids contain long lists of hazardous chemicals and heavy metals. XTO's own literature lists arsenic, lead, mercury and barium as possible ingredients. Some chemicals are powerful carcinogens or possibly harmful to the brain and nervous system. Others could interfere with the development of unborn children.
David Sterling, a professor of environmental health at the University of North Texas Health Science Center, voiced concerns about the possibility of benzene and formaldehyde being dumped on farms, along with "certain amounts of radioactivity increase because fracking fluid would have been amongst heavy rock," he said. "Depending on [the] chemicals [present], there are different potentials for health impacts."
... Ross watched his neighbor plow and plant on the land immediately after dumping had ceased, and after a year, a scarce crop of corn came up.
There are no Texas regulations governing how much time must pass between the end of landfarming and when crops can be grown on the site.
"Weeds wouldn't grow on it for a year," Ross says.
He watched as even rainwater wouldn't seep into the soil during drought.
Crops such as corn will not necessarily ingest and pass on carcinogenic substances from industry waste, according to Travis Wilson, of the Texas Agri-Life Extension Service.
However, "heavy metals from soil will certainly be taken up by plant life," he said.
Cadmium, lead, silver and arsenic are all listed as part of the waste spread on the corn field next to Ross. ...more.
“We evolve the regulations on an ongoing basis to ensure that they’re protective of groundwater and public safety and that waste is disposed of properly as well.”
Regs Not Effective? Bring In The Noninforcements.
"Drilling fluids are transported, stored and handled in tanks. Typically, drilling fluid waste will be transported off-site for re-use and treatment/disposal. ... Drilling mud includes a number of additives to maintain the fluid at desired viscosities and weights. Some additives may be caustic, toxic, or acidic."
'I am writing to express serious concern that the safety and health of Ohio citizens is in jeopardy from the chemical contents of fracking wastewater … When was the last time ODNR tested the make-up of brine and other fracking waste?'
July 2, 2012, EcoWatch
Results from a sample of brine from hydraulic fracturing operations have revealed numerous hazardous materials, leaving many residents increasingly frustrated at the inaction of Ohio’s Division of Natural Resources (ODNR), the agency responsible for regulation of the state’s shale development.
The lab results indicate high levels of alpha particles, arsenic, barium and toluene, among other contaminants, and are cause for the brine to be classified as “hazardous,” according to Ben Stout, professor of biology at Wheeling Jesuit University who interpreted the results.
Stout labeled the results as “eerily similar” to brine samples taken by West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection. He describes heavy metals found in the sample as “grossly above standard,” citing skyrocketing arsenic and barium levels that exceed the primary standard for acceptable drinking water concentrations by 370 and 145 times, respectively.
Alpha particles indicate elevated levels of radioactivity and have been linked to lung cancer. High levels of barium are associated with organ failure, and both toluene and arsenic are highly carcinogenic. A partial review of ODNR inspection records on 116 injection wells from 2000-2011 reveals a legacy of brine spillage in at least twelve Ohio counties. In many cases, no remediation has occurred because the ODNR does not classify brine as hazardous waste. ... more.
'I fell to my knees.' No one had warned her about the dozens of chemicals in the water, including hydrogen sulfide, H₂S, its rotten-egg odor created by bacteria growing inside wells.
By Edwin Dobb, Published: March 2013, National Geographic
When Susan Connell arrives at the first oil well of the day, she tosses her stylish black-rimmed glasses onto the dashboard of her 18-wheeler, climbs down from the cab, and pulls the zipper on her fire-resistant coveralls up to her neck. It’s early July, about 7 a.m. We’re on the Fort Berthold Reservation, in western North Dakota. Connell, 39, the mother of two young girls and one of the few female big-rig drivers in the oil patch, is hauling water. Produced water, as it’s officially known. The drivers call it dirty water. During the early days of pumping at a new well, oil is accompanied by fluids and other substances used during drilling, along with salt water, which is abundant above the subterranean layers of rock where the coveted sweet crude is found. Eventually the man-made additives diminish, leaving mostly salt water. Five of the three-story-high tanks in front of us contain oil; the sixth, everything else. That’s what Connell is here to transfer to a waste-disposal well.
'Just don’t pass out on me,' Connell says, half in jest. We’ve scaled a steep stairway to a narrow steel catwalk 30 feet above the ground, but she’s not referring to the height. She says that one of the first times she opened the hatch atop a dirty water tank, she was overcome by fumes. 'I fell to my knees.' No one had warned her about the dozens of chemicals in the water, including hydrogen sulfide, H₂S, its rotten-egg odor created by bacteria growing inside wells. In high enough concentrations it can be poisonous, even lethal. Ironically, the gas poses the greatest risk when it deadens your sense of smell, another safety lesson Connell had to learn on her own. Eventually someone gave her an H₂S detector, which she clipped to her collar whenever she approached a well that had turned “sour” enough to be hazardous. Once she was pumping dirty water from her tanker truck when the detector sounded. She scrambled away, thinking she’d escaped harm. But hours later she felt stabbing pains in her stomach, the prelude to a weeklong bout of vomiting. Her next purchase was a gas mask.
Connell tells me to stand upwind, then gingerly lifts the hatch. No fumes. It’s what she expected, having often hauled water from this well, but, she says, you never know when a routine activity will be interrupted by a nasty surprise. ... more.
By KREX News Room - John Dzenitis, Created: Fri, 05 Aug 2011, Updated: Wed, 15 Jan 2014
Before 42-year-old Jose Lara of Rifle died, he recorded a six-hour deposition detailing his work in the natural gas industry.
"If I would have known the damage those tanks would do to me, I would never have cleaned them," an emotional Lara said through a Spanish translator in front of a camera and room full of attorneys.
Dying from pancreatic and liver cancer, Lara described his job with Rain for Rent, a California-based company with a branch in Rifle. His job was to power-wash waste water tanks for numerous natural gas drilling companies.
For years, Lara said he was not supplied with a respirator, protective gear, or any warning of what he could be exposed to. "The chemicals, the smell was so bad," Lara said. "Once I got out, I couldn't stop throwing up. I couldn't even talk." Lara said he had no idea what he was being exposed to. "[Rain for Rent] always talked about safety," Lara said. "But they never told me what was in those tanks."
Lara passed away three months after recording his deposition.
OSHA would later cite and fine Rain for Rent with nine violations, six of them serious, for exposing Lara to a cyanide-like gas called hydrogen sulfide. The citation claim the company didn't properly protect, warn, and educate Lara about what he was being exposed to.
Both the industry and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, the state's agency meant to protect public health and regulate oil and gas, have denied the existence of high levels of hydrogen sulfide in Colorado.
In 1997, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment wanted to monitor for hydrogen sulfide at oil and gas facilities after they were designated as confirmed sources of the deadly gas by the EPA. The COGCC stepped in and told them not to, claiming there were no elevated levels in the state. The public health department listened, and tells us they haven't pursued any monitoring of hydrogen sulfide at oil and gas facilities since.
In 2010, Ryan Beaver's job was to monitor for hydrogen sulfide in the same kinds of tanks. "I've seen the levels with my own eyes and I know what that stuff can do," Beaver said. Beaver worked for On-Site Safety, a company contracted by Noble Energy in De Beque, Colorado.
Outfitted with a monitoring device and gas mask, Beaver found multiple dangerous levels of hydrogen sulfide in just four months. "We would open the lid, 'roll the tank,' and put our monitors inside," Beaver said. Beaver found levels of hydrogen sulfide exceeding 2,000 parts per million, which is triple the lethal level. Beaver says he wasn't allowed to tell anyone, other than his supervisors, what the levels were. "700 ppm will knock you out and kill you with the second breath," Beaver said. "I was getting three times that. It's a very well-kept secret."
One time, while workers were on site, Beaver's monitoring device read a level so high it maxed out his device. "It just said 'error, error,' Beaver said. "I couldn't get anyone's attention, so I cracked my gas mask and yelled as loud as I could." In the effort, Beaver was stricken with a near-lethal dose of hydrogen sulfide. "My right eye felt like it was about to explode it hurt so bad," Beaver said. "I had a migraine for a week and a half, and I lost my voice for three days." The attack happened just one day before Lara recorded his deposition.
The dangerous levels of hydrogen sulfide Beaver recorded in four months were never reported to the county or state, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission says. Beaver says he would enter the numbers from his field log book into a master log book with On-Site Safety, which presumably went to Noble Energy.
The industry has also discounted and fought air studies conducted in Western Colorado, some which turned up hydrogen sulfide readings. "They won't let testing in, and they won't release what results they already have," Beaver said. "Of course they can say it's not true."
After NewsChannel 5's investigation, Noble Energy came forward and admitted they've seen hydrogen sulfide at a majority of their sites in Western Colorado.
When industry brings secret toxics and "naturally occurring" radioactive escapees (that have never seen the light of day until now) to the party, what should communities do with them?
Fracking Wastewater The New NORM In Nova Scotia? Colchester County Council Considers Application To Treat Frack-Wastewater
... in possession of not only 4.5 million litres of waste water from fracked wells in the Kennetcook area, but has also received approximately 11 million litres of fracked wastewater from the Penobsquis area of New Brunswick
By Miles Howe, September 28, 2012, Halifax Media Coop
Truro, Nova Scotia – Guided by its own regulatory process, Colchester County Council yesterday determined that it would indeed allow its municipal engineer to consider Atlantic Industrial Services’ (AIS) application to dump “treated” frack-wastewater down the Debert sewer system.
The engineer’s recommendation, whatever it might be, can subsequently be opposed by council, and potentially reversed.
It has recently been publicly revealed that Atlantic Industrial Systems (AIS), who made the application, is in possession of not only 4.5 million litres of waste water from fracked wells in the Kennetcook area, but has also received approximately 11 million litres of fracked wastewater from the Penobsquis area of New Brunswick, in two separate shipments, in 2010 and 2011. According to AIS, all of this water is being held in on-site lagoons.
AIS’s Debert facility has a holding capacity of 35 million litres and claims that it has the technology to treat the 15.5 million litres of wastewater, which is currently considered a radioactive substance due to its elevated levels of Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORM). These may include uranium, thorium and potassium, among other radioactive substances.
Clint Stewart, senior vice-president of Envirosystems, Atlantic Industrial Systems’ Dartmouth-based parent company, notes that his company has already carried out tests on water samples from the Kennetcook wells; tests which came out under the allowable limits for NORMs. Stewart perceives the popular concern over this fracked wastewater to be overblown.
“This is a business that we do day in and day out,” Stewart told The Halifax Media Co-op. “We take wastewater from every heavy industrial location in Atlantic Canada. So these waters are no more different than any of those…We’ve definitely seen more complex waters than this, for sure.”
Stewart is confident that his company can treat the wastewater, and while he won’t reveal the exact process by which water will be rendered non-radioactive, he says it is primarily a matter of separating radioactive sediment, which flowed back up from the Earth’s crust, from the wastewater.
“There is very little by-product, because 99% of this product is water,” Stewart said. “There most likely will be – and we really won’t know until we get to the bottom of the lagoons – some sediment that will drop out. But our process will remove that as we go through. And we will collect it. We do that now for other wastewaters. And then it will be sampled and analyzed, and depending on the analysis, [we'll determine] where it will go for disposal.”
A briefing provided to Colchester County Council earlier in the month noted that the water would be run through a “carbon absorption system.” Stewart refused to publicly release the test results in question.
“That’s a little too much to ask,” said Stewart.
Responsibility for the wastewater, of which there is another 11 million litres (currently in need of direct attention) being held in lagoons in the Kennetcook area, has become something of a political hot potato. It also may have run both Nova Scotia’s Department of the Environment (NSE) and AIS into direct conflict with federal regulations regarding the transport, possession and storing of radioactive materials.
Packaging and transporting NORMs, depending on their level of radioactivity, requires specific permits from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. NSE would have known this, and would most likely have been aware that Nova Scotia’s bedrock does contain radioactive elements, which, if drilled into, would most likely come back up to the surface in frack-wastewater.
Yet NSE allowed 4.5 million litres to be shipped (approximately 132 truckloads at an average of 34,000 litres per truck), and apparently never tested the water itself, or required the water to be tested by Triangle Petroleum Corp, the Denver-based company who remains financially responsible for re-mediating the drill sites and treating the frack wastewater in question.
According to NSE, it was AIS who stumbled upon the fact that the wastewater was radioactive, only after receiving it.
… NSE’s public position at this point appears to be to downplay the presence of NORMs in the frack- wastewater. ... more.
Colchester County approves request, but Mi’kmaq chiefs want more information
By Michael Gorman, March 27, 2013, The Chronicle Herald
The Municipality of the County of Colchester has approved a request to discharge hydraulic fracturing waste water in its sewer system.
Atlantic Industrial Services of Dartmouth has been storing 4.5 million litres of the waste water at its Debert treatment facility. The province granted permission for that waste water to be treated for radioactivity and also granted permission to the company to bring in an additional one million litres.
The municipal approval, effective May 26, was issued subsequent to an application and analytical information to support it.
Mayor Bob Taylor said the company has shown that the process can be completed within provincial and federal health guidelines. The municipality recently beefed up its sewer-use policy, giving it the opportunity to hear appeals and prevent the discharge of materials if council sees sufficient concern.
“We do have bylaws in place to deal with this and council can make a decision to overrule,” said Taylor.
Concerns have been raised because the waste water contains naturally occurring radioactive materials. But company officials have said their facility, one of the most advanced in the country, can safely treat the waste water and sample testing has met government guidelines.
At a recent council meeting, general manager Andre Lachevrotiere told councillors that before the company accepts any waste water, transport trucks are parked and the contents sampled to ensure the facility can treat the material. All monitoring results are shared with the provincial Environment Department and the municipality, Lachevrotiere said.
The public has until April 10 to file appeals. One group likely to so do is the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq chiefs.
Chief Gerard Julian, co-chairman of the assembly, said the chiefs want to know what is in the water and how, if at all, it may affect the environment. The group has not yet contacted the municipality.
“They’re not talking about a small sample or a small amount of waste water,” Julian said. “We’ve heard similar stories before. … It would take quite a bit to convince us to allow this type of thing.”
The assembly may request its own environmental assessment, he said. Julian said he is also concerned that this is happening while the province is still reviewing whether to permit hydraulic fracturing in Nova Scotia.
With hydrofracking, a well can produce over a million gallons of wastewater that is often laced with highly corrosive salts, carcinogens like benzene and radioactive elements like radium, all of which can occur naturally thousands of feet underground. Other carcinogenic materials can be added to the wastewater by the chemicals used in the hydrofracking itself.
By IAN URBINA - New York Times Drilling Down Series
Published: February 26, 2011
... A review by The Times of more than 30,000 pages of federal, state and company records relating to more than 200 gas wells in Pennsylvania, 40 in West Virginia and 20 public and private wastewater treatment plants offers a fuller picture of the wastewater such wells produce and the threat it poses.
Most of the information was drawn from drilling reports from the last three years, obtained by visiting regional offices throughout Pennsylvania, and from documentsor databases provided by state and federal regulators in response to records requests.
Among The Times’s findings:
¶More than 1.3 billion gallons of wastewater was produced by Pennsylvania wells over the past three years, far more than has been previously disclosed. Most of this water — enough to cover Manhattan in three inches — was sent to treatment plants not equipped to remove many of the toxic materials in drilling waste.
¶At least 12 sewage treatment plants in three states accepted gas industry wastewater and discharged waste that was only partly treated into rivers, lakes and streams.
¶Of more than 179 wells producing wastewater with high levels of radiation, at least 116 reported levels of radium or other radioactive materials 100 times as high as the levels set by federal drinking-water standards. At least 15 wells produced wastewater carrying more than 1,000 times the amount of radioactive elements considered acceptable.
Results came from field surveys conducted by state and federal regulators, year-end reports filed by drilling companies and state-ordered tests of some public treatment plants. Most of the tests measured drilling wastewater for radium or for “gross alpha” radiation, which typically comes from radium, uranium and other elements.
Industry officials say they are not concerned.
“These low levels of radioactivity pose no threat to the public or worker safety and are more a public perception issue than a real health threat,” said James E. Grey, chief operating officer of Triana Energy. ... more.
... those salty compounds — crystallized sodium chloride and liquid calcium chloride — also can contain limited amounts of arsenic, lead, mercury, ammonia, volatile organic compounds and diesel hydrocarbons.
By Don Hopey, January 29, 2013, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The state Department of Environmental Protection has rescinded a Marcellus Shale wastewater treatment permit that would have allowed a New Jersey company to spread chemically contaminated salts on roadways, sidewalks and fields statewide.
The DEP pulled the permit, issued in August to Integrated Water Technologies Inc., after admitting the required public notice about the permit did not accurately describe the permitted activity and the department hadn’t fully considered the impact on the environment.
The DEP’s decision to rescind the permit for the as-yet-to-be-built treatment plant in North Fayette was announced Saturday in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.
It comes less than four months after Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future filed an appeal with the state Environmental Hearing Board that alleged the department had pulled a “switcheroo” by not accurately describing the permit in its public notice. The environmental advocacy organization also asked the hearing board to rescind the permit.
At that time, Kevin Sunday, a DEP spokesman, issued a statement that called PennFuture’s appeal “baseless” and “an attempt to manufacture a controversy.”
Mr. Sunday, in a statement issued Monday, said the DEP expects to republish the permit notice.
"We are, in the interest of public participation and transparency, providing the public an additional opportunity to comment on this permit," the statement said.
The DEP’s original public notice described the permit narrowly — for the treatment and processing of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, operations at Marcellus Shale gas wells. But after meeting privately with officials of the firm, the DEP issued a permit that allowed two chemical compounds originally classified as waste to be classified as “beneficial use” material that could be used as road and sidewalk de-icer, for roadway dust suppression and for soil stabilization in fields.
And, according to that altered permit, issued in August without public participation on those changes, those salty compounds — crystallized sodium chloride and liquid calcium chloride — also can contain limited amounts of arsenic, lead, mercury, ammonia, volatile organic compounds and diesel hydrocarbons.
Those are significant changes, according to PennFuture, and could impact public health, but no public comment or input was sought by the DEP. ... more.
Speaking Of Public Health ...
By Don Braid, February 12, 2013, Calgary Herald
Many threats can really scare a person these days. Things like environmental disaster, economic collapse, and 26,000 Alberta Health Services employees running around with expense accounts.
The auditor general’s latest report reveals that shocking fact and many more. The document is revelatory about the enormous size, gargantuan appetite and sloppy practices of Alberta’s cash-burning health behemoth.
One AHS employee — we don’t know who — has a credit card spending limit of $900,000. I really want lunch with that person.
In 17 months, AHS paid $100 million in expense claims. Even A-G Merwan Saher, used to big numbers, confessed to being “quite taken aback at how large the sum was.”
(“Taken aback” is accountant talk for “Holy s—!”)
Most of the claims came from 26,000 of the 100,000 AHS employees, an expensing army larger than the population of seven Alberta cities.
… In the highest single claim, AHS paid $116,390 for a realtor’s commission expensed by an employee.
The standard limit on corporate credit cards (which AHS calls “purchasing cards”) is $10,000 a month or $120,000 a year.
Thirteen people had limits ranging from $180,000 up to that $900,000 whopper.
… Here’s a short list of items AHS employees and agencies bought with their credit cards:
... “If AHS thought it was the most cost-effective for Albertans, they needed to make a much better justification in their records.”
All this, it seems to me, is part of the rampant spread of entitlement in management levels of Alberta’s publicly funded bodies.
Their interests are now diverging at light speed from the public interest. AHS, being the biggest, is probably fated to be the worst. ... more.
Calgarians Complain Planned Oil Well Is Too Close To Home
CBC News, Feb 4, 2012
... “We haven't been given a proper emergency response plan, and we're concerned about a drinking water line that goes just on the edge of the lease that Kaiser has purchased," Stewart said.
Kaiser Exploration Ltd. is an oil and gas exploration and development company that is applying to build the oil well.
Ned Beattie, general manger for the operation, said the installation will meet or exceed all safety requirements. He said a lot of community concerns are not well-grounded.
"I think there are a lot of people up there who are trying to defeat it, not on its merits but out of fear," he said.
... "It would be somewhat hypocritical to say we don't want an oil well in this city when we have companies headquartered in this city which have drilled wells in Edmonton, Red Deer, Medicine Hat and other cities," he said.
Beattie said Kaiser will drill elsewhere within city limits if the conditions are right ... more.
Calling people hypocrites is the scoundrel's last resort.
It's an ad hominem fallacy.
A diversion from the issue.
The cheapest tactic there is.
Why do industry boosters resort to cheap shots?
Because they cannot defend the indefensible.
What Color Will The Sky Be Over Calgary?
March 25, 1985|GEORGE RAMOS and STEVE HARVEY | Times Staff Writers
Fires begun by the explosion continued to burn–and spread–as the night hours passed, and a spokesman for the Southern California Gas Company said it was possible that the flames were fueled by gas from a long-abandoned oil field in the vicinity.
The injured were taken by ambulance to hospitals in the vicinity where two were reported in critical condition, including one man who had second- and third-degree burns over 70% of his body.
Two employees of the Ross Dress for Less Store, in the 6200 block of West 3rd Street, could not be accounted for, and firefighters spent five hours searching for them in the tangle of charred clothing, smashed fixtures and broken wiring that remained inside the building.
New Explosions Occur
The searchers were temporarily driven from the building at 9 p.m., when two smaller explosions under the structure opened fiery cracks in the earth nearby, but they returned 30 minutes later.
Meanwhile, gas continued to seep to the surface–and burst into flame–in a steady progression across the parking lot and to the edge of 3rd Street. By late evening, seepage of gas in the area across the street from the store had become so concentrated that the command post was relocated another 200 feet to the north.
… In any case, authorities agreed that it was apparently impossible to control the supply of gas feeding the flames that continued to spurt from cracks in the earth and from various parts of the smashed store building.
… Automobiles in the parking lot were wrecked–their windows cracked and their paint blistered–by the explosion and fire, and the shock wave from the blast smashed windows as far as three blocks away.
Also severely damaged were a beauty shop, bank, cafeteria, fish market, variety store and paint store nearby.
… Wells explained that a buildup of gas fumes had been detected in the basement of the K Mart discount store nearby, and that further blasts might be expected unless the source of the deadly fumes could be located ... read entire article.
Ross Dress-For-Less Explosion
By Douglas H. Hamilton and Richard L. Meehan,
Excerpt from: Engineering Geology Practice in Southern California, Association of Engineering Geologists, Special Publication No. 4, 1992.
Late in the afternoon of March 24, 1985, methane gas that had been accumulating ignited in an auxiliary room of the Ross Dress-For-Less Department Store located on Third Street, in the Wilshire-Fairfax District of Los Angeles. The resulting explosion blew out the windows and partially collapsed the roof of the structure, reduced the store interior to a heap of twisted metal and resulted in injuries requiring hospital treatment of twenty-three people. Police closed off four blocks around an eerie scene of spouting gas flames that continued through the night.
… And yet, three months later when a hastily convened panel of experts announced that the event was caused by digestive rumblings of an ancient and invisible swamp the whole thing had been mostly forgotten, the explanation accepted as yet another production of Los Angeles’ quirky environment. Outside of a lawsuit that was settled quietly in 1990, the possibility that the accident was caused by the knowing agency of Los Angeles’ lesser known industry or that the official report of the experts, rather than being a serious statement of the scientific community, was a heavily edited script with a happily blameless ending, was not made known to the public, as we shall proceed to do here.
By Douglas H. Hamilton and Richard L. Meehan,
In Engineering Geology Practice in Southern California, Association of Engineering Geologists, Special Publication No. 4, 1992.
... Despite its own initial interest in abandoned wells as a potential source of the gas and the mandated purpose of the Roberti Bill to study such wells, the Task Force’s surprising conclusion was that neither the existence of dozens of such abandoned wells, nor even the presence of underlying oil and gas field which had been venting to surface for hundreds of millennia, had anything to do with the gas venting accidents.
In fact, the oil field operation was not even mentioned as a possible agent in the Task Force report. Instead a chemical analysis of a sample of the venting gas led the Task Force to conclude that the gas was of “biogenic” origin, presumably derived from near surface decaying of organic matter in the alluvial soil, rather than being of petrogenic of thermogenic origin, i.e. derived from rock-source hydrocarbon (oil field type) accumulations. The Task Force then went on to present a scenario of shallow “biogenic” methane being displaced and pressurized by a rising water table in the perched fresh-water aquifer beneath the Ross Store. It was an imaginative explanation….
... Troublesome legal issues were eliminated by this conclusion, the implication being that the methane hazard could exist virtually anywhere, so no human agency was at fault for its workings. The abandoned wells, the filled sumps, or anything else having to do with the past and current exploitation of the Salt Lake oil field evidently was considered no more than coincidence.
About a year after the issuance of the Task Force report, the results of two separate studies of the composition and indicated origin of near surface gas samples both at the Ross store and elsewhere in the Los Angeles Basin, became available. One report was prepared under contract to the C.D.O.G., in response to the Roberti Bill (Geoscience Analytical Inc., 1986). It presented the results of a study of eight selected urban areas sited over oil and gas fields where there were wells abandoned prior to 1930, and where there was a history of oil and/or gas seepage. This report concluded that with few exceptions, the methane present in these areas was, as at the site of the Ross Store building, of biogenic origin and thus unrelated to the underlying oil and gas accumulations. In their opinion it was essentially swamp gas. This remarkable conclusion was all the more interesting since it turned out that most of the areas sampled are local topographic highs. In any case, the results of this massive study assured the public the hazardous conditions identified by the Task Force as existing at the Ross Store, as well as "the vast majority of the high concentration gas samples" taken from the surface areas overlying oil and gas deposits throughout the Los Angeles basin, were also of purely natural swamp gas origin unrelated to human activities or oil field presence.
The other study, based on isotopic analysis of samples of gas at the Ross Store building escaping on the day following the explosion, concluded that the gas was of thermogenic origin, hence, came from an oil reservoir source (Global Geochemistry, 1986).
These contradictory studies, one compatible with the Task Force's "rising ground-water displacing shallow biogenic gas" and the other clearly not, failed to elicit any notice outside of the groups of attorneys and technical consultants who were by then engaged in the inevitable legal maneuvering among the injured explosion survivors and the possible responsible parties.
Official disinterest continued into early 1989, when a second notable gas excursion occurred in the Ross Store neighborhood. This event, referred to officially as "Incident #113", is described in the subsequent "Task Force Report II on the Methane Gas Incursion" (1989) as follows:
"At or before 6 a.m. on February 7, 1989, an incursion of methane gas occurred within the K-Mart Store located at Third Street and Ogden Drive. The gas was detected on a portable unit which had detected near-explosive levels of methane within the store when employees entered the building. The Fire Department was notified and the employees evacuated the building. The responding Fire Department units observed a fountain of gas, water, and mud at the southwest corner of the Gilmore bank and additional emergency units were dispatched to the scene. Within 2 hours, explosive levels of methane were measured within the Gilmore Bank, K-Mart store, and in subsurface locations outside of these buildings including the Ross Dress-For-Less Store. The response team soon recognized similarities to the 1985 event in location and that the gas incursion was a higher pressure type event. The area was then cordoned off to prevent ignition and explosion of the gas."
… Although Task Force Report II explicitly “exonerated” past and present oil field operations from any role in the 1985 and 1989 gas ventings, it did, unlike the 1985 report, at least mention them. But, even this was evidently regarded as stepping outside of some kind of bounds by the Task Force member representing the C.D.O.G., since that member wrote a letter providing comments regarding the second draft of the Task Force Report II which seemed to generally take his fellow members to task for even mentioning oil field operations (Baker, 1989).
... Alternative Scenarios for Episodic Gas Ventings
There appear to be two basic scenarios that have been proposed, and one we propose, to explain the 1985 and 1989 gas ventings in the vicinity of the Ross Store near Third and Fairfax:
Scenario 1: The 1985 Task Force Biogenic gas/rising ground-water scenario;
Scenario 2: The Roberti Bill oil field gas/abandoned well conduit scenario; and
Scenario 3: The oil field gas/intermittent fracture conduit scenario.
Scenario 3. We propose a third alternative scenario, which we call the oil field gas/intermittent fracture conduit scenario. This scenario, not mentioned in the Task Force report nor set forth in the Roberti Bill charge, envisions a mechanism of intermittent releases of pressurized gas from the Salt Lake oil field, via passages temporarily opened along the Third Street fault, through the process of hydraulic fracturing.
The fracturing would be triggered by buildup of fluid pressure caused by injection disposal of salt water in the Lease Block U-20 fault-isolated compartment of the field.
This mechanism is similar to the fault activation process that occurred in the Inglewood Oil Field in response to pressure injection for secondary oil recovery, which in that case was instrumental in the breaching and ultimate failure of Baldwin Hills Dam in 1963 (Hamilton and Meehan, 1971).
In that case, there was both escape of injected fluid to the surface along one or more fault conduits, and differential movement across faults.
In the Ross Store explosion scenario proposed here, the Third Street fault fractured enough to allow upwardly migrating pulses of gas-pressurized water and free gas discharging into and through the overlying alluvial section, without detectible differential movement of the fault itself. With migration of the water upward, gas would be released either into the soil, or could vent directly to the surface.
Our analysis indicates that the raise of well head pressures at Gilmore #16, sanctioned by the C.D.O.G., from 200 to 700 psi was sufficient to fracture the formation at the nearby fault.
This possibility is not recognized in the current C.D.O.G. review of oil field operations, though the analytical techniques necessary for its consideration are certainly available in the oil industry. Moreover, there is evidence suggestive that additional injection, unreported in C.D.O.G. records, was taking place at the time of the disaster.
It seems to us that future studies of the Los Angeles gas problem can hardly be considered complete without full investigation of these issues.
Finally, our analysis suggests that the criteria currently employed by C.D.O.G. and industry may not adequately protect against formation fracturing and escape of formational or injected fluids and gas to the surface environment, resulting in disastrous consequences comparable to the Ross Store explosion. ... read entire paper.
Imperial Oil is involved with three leaking wells in the area, but the other two are in open areas — a schoolyard and a neighbourhood park.
By Darcy Henton, edmontonjournal.com June 2, 2010
CALMAR, ALBERTA — Five new Calmar homes have to be removed to make room for a drilling rig to seal an abandoned natural gas well discovered in one family’s backyard.
In what the Energy Resources Conservation Board called “a unique situation,” two families have already moved and Imperial Oil has confirmed it may have to purchase three other adjacent modular homes in the community, 50 kilometres southwest of Edmonton.
Stacy Smith, whose backyard deck is a few metres from the wellhead, said many neighbours were unaware of what was going on until they were called last week to a meeting by Imperial Oil.
She and her husband, Trevor, who moved into the Evergreen subdivision in October 2006, heard rumours two years ago after another leaking gas well was discovered on the grounds of a nearby elementary school.
“Initially, I had a hard time finding out what was going on,” Smith said. “Our neighbour came to us in the fall of 2008 and told us either our house or the house next to us had a leaking well. We didn’t really believe it.”
Smith said she had noticed bubbles in a puddle in the back lane, but didn’t link it to a leaking gas well. Neither did her neighbour, who has since sold her home to Imperial and moved.
“She was going to put her fire pit right there where the well was. It’s rather shocking,” Smith said
“They’re offering us just slightly more than we paid when we moved in here. We’ve put at least double that into our property, but they aren’t interested in paying us for the improvements. It’s been incredibly stressful. I’m at the end of my rope. I am just so sick of it.”
Nobody knows how the residential subdivision was approved for development without anyone noticing there was an abandoned wellhead in the middle of the project.
Town public works director Ed Melesko said when the land was reclaimed 50 years ago, the well was taken off the land title and no one checked any further.
But he said there’s evidence the well was detected by someone when the subdivision was being constructed.
“Somebody knew it was there because somebody hit it and nobody bothered to tell anybody,” Melesko said. “If nobody reports it to us, we never know about it. That subdivision got built.”
The developer, Aztec Homes, went out of business, but the owner now operates another construction company in town that sells modular homes. He declined a request for an interview.
Residents said the home closest to the well is the only home without a basement.
... Imperial Oil has temporarily sealed the leak and erected a tin shed over the wellhead, but says it must bring a rig on-site to seal or “abandon” the well to current Energy Resources Conservation Board specifications.
Residents are upset that they will now have a drilling rig in the middle of their neighbourhood in the centre of town. They worry that their properties’ values will fall and they wonder if there are more wells.
Imperial Oil is involved with three leaking wells in the area, but the other two are in open areas — a schoolyard and a neighbourhood park. One has already been permanently sealed.
Imperial Oil spokeswoman Laura Bishop said the wells were drilled by Texaco in the 1950s, but Imperial assumed responsibility for their maintenance with their purchase of Texaco in 1989.
She said that in the 1950s and 1960s, it was common practice to remove as much production casing from the wells before sealing them. More than 1,000 metres of casing were removed from the Evergreen Crescent well which means sweet gas was seeping from formations 250 to 350 metres below ground, she said.
... Bishop said preparatory work and drilling could take up to six weeks.
Residents of some of the homes that will remain are dreading the prospect of having a drilling rig in the middle of their town of 2,000.
“There’s no way I would have bought a house in this area if I knew there was a wellhead here — and on top of everything else, it’s a leaking well,” said Cyndi Olson, 50, a physician who is recovering from two open-heart surgeries. “I am fairly angry.”
Olson said she was hoping to convalesce is a quiet neighbourhood in “a nice quiet little town.”
“What am I going to do now? “ she asked. “It will be pretty disturbing for me as far as my heart goes. It’s a huge concern for me.”
Her husband Ralph, 51, said one of his biggest beefs is there has been no one to turn to for advice or help. He said local and provincial politicians all passed the buck.
“It was probably the most frustrating part to me,” he said. “Nobody seems to care.” ... read entire article.
Almost 100,000 spent oil and gas wells litter Alberta ...
By Doug Horner, March 1, 2011, Alberta Views
... We're peering into the tail end of Alberta's conventional oil and gas industry: an abandoned oil well. As the industry plowed forward over the last 80 years, it left more than 100,000 such wells in its wake. 'A little bit of water comes off the site,' says Bruder, gesturing to the base of a nearby fence, the Rocky Mountains looming beyond. 'The cows won't drink the water. They'll walk to the other corner of the field to drink. There's something in it they're not liking, there's contamination. I have no doubt in my mind.'
"... You phone the ERCB and they say, 'that's not our jurisdiction, phone the SRB,'" says Bruder. "And you phone the SRB and they say, 'that's not our jurisdiction, phone Alberta Environment,' and Alberta Environment says, 'that's not our jurisdiction, phone the ERCB'." Bruder's handlebar moustache bristles along with his contempt. "And you just keep going around in a circle.' The not-so-merry-go-round Bruder describes is Alberta's oil and gas regulatory system.
Pinch was downhole abandoned in August 1995, and yet the wellhead still marinates in its watery, concrete abode. Tony Bruder doesn’t know when it will be remediated. Alberta’s regulatory system may have all the pivotal moments of a well’s life cycle covered, but it doesn’t set deadlines by which those transitions must take place.
Pinch is not alone. According to AENV, at the end of 2009 over 45,000 wells have been abandoned in Alberta but not certified as reclaimed. Pinch is one of almost 13,000 wells that have been abandoned without reclamation for longer than 10 years. On average, over the past decade, AENV has issued reclamation certificates for fewer than half of the wells that are abandoned each year. In short, the gap between the number of wells sealed and the number actually cleaned up is steadily widening. Meanwhile, roughly 60,000 wells are just plain shut off or “inactive,” neither producing nor permanently sealed ... read entire article.
Driller Says Frio Well Not Mapped
By Vicki Vaughan, November 22, 2010, San Antonio Express
The Corpus Christi drilling company that's struggling to cap a spewing well in Frio County said the well was abandoned years ago and wasn't shown on any official state well maps.
That the well wasn't charted created a 'major problem ... if the well had been located on the official state maps, Virtex would never have drilled its new well' near one that was abandoned.
... it had completed drilling a well ... when a geyser of water and gases began spewing from an old well nearby. The white plume erupting from the well contained natural gases, including hydrogen sulfide, a toxic gas that can cause illness or death if inhaled in sufficient concentrations
... VirTex is putting up 49 people who were living near the blown-out well, said Jon Fischer, an engineer and consultant to the company. In addition to putting them up in area hotels, the company is giving the residents vouchers for their meals, he said.
Early last week, some Pearsall residents complained of the 'rotten egg' smell characteristic of hydrogen sulphide. Some complained of headaches.
... An expert, Dr. Miguel Fernandez, cautioned Frio County residents to 'be mindful of becoming used to the gas smell' because it 'quickly causes olfactory fatigue. Basically people no longer perceive it.
'You get used to the smell, and when you no longer are aware of it, this can lead to being exposed for a longer period of time, which is dangerous,' said Fernandez, a medical toxicologist and director of the South Texas Poison Center at the University of Texas Health Science Center.
Symptoms of exposure may include skin irritation, shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, confusion, heart rhythm problems, seizures and, ultimately, death, he said.
'Because of the possibility of these and other health effects, if you smell something, get out of there ...' ..read entire article.
Fracks-Gone-Wild, One (that we know about) Does-a-Runner 475 Metres Off Course
Assessments show that there is at least 230 metres of sealing rock between the deepest part of Kaiser’s drilling licence and the shallowest formation that is predicted to bear sour gas.
... The farmer who first spotted the blow out reported there was a fountain of crude shooting about 30 feet above the pumpjack.
He phoned the ERCB emergency hotline but got no answer!
He then quickly contacted Wildstream Exploration and went up to the Midway frack site and got the frack shut down.
Unable to get any response from the ERCB, he then phoned Don Bester of the Alberta Surface Rights Group. Bester was able to contact the ERCB. Some of our board members went out there and did a field inspection (thus the pictures).
When you can see oil dripping from the trees, you know d..n well what happened over the bank.
... he wonders how many similar spills have gone unreported because they are held within the sites of the companies running the fracs and are therefore not brought to the public’s attention.
“If these companies can’t control these fracs, what is the potential to destroy a complete aquifer? We’re not convinced that these fracs will stay in the formation that they were intended to frac.”
Destroying an aquifer would destroy fresh water sources for hundreds of farmers, said Bester.
“What are we doing here, really? What are we doing?” he said.
Bester also said he also has questions about whether the plume sprayed over the bank and into the river.
“When you can see oil dripping from the trees, you know d..n well what happened over the bank.” ... more.
While fracking has been the cause of some of the blowout increases, producing wells and plugged and abandoned wells are experiencing underground blowouts from the failure of old and corroded casings.
... Another issue that has arisen from fracking is an increase in surface and water table pollution events that
can result in expensive claims and erode the Control of Well limit rapidly, if not entirely.
AmWINS Group Inc. - Over the last two years, new technology has made unconventional drilling a viable, cost-effective way to extract oil and gas from shale. This new technology is based on advanced horizontal drilling techniques that enable pinpoint accuracy combined with complex multi-stage hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) techniques over significant distances horizontally.
This shift has resulted in new insurance issues that often go unaddressed.
The new fracking technology has advanced to 40-stage fracking operations on 10,000-foot horizontal laterals. This game-changing technology and its impressive results have led to a re-evaluation of the oil and gas resources available in the United States. A Congressional Research Service report released on March 25 of this year indicates that the United States now has the largest hydrocarbon resources in the world.
Drilling activity is up, and the use of this new technology is now common.
This shift to unconventional drilling and heavy multi-stage fracking has created new insurance issues for the industry:
• Increase in blowouts during the completion/fracking stage.
• Increase in blowouts involving communication between multiple wells.
• Increase in blowouts caused by casing/cementing failure.
• Increase in blowouts caused by surface events.
In addition to these blowout trends, we are seeing:
• An increase in blowouts involving producing wells.
• An increase in blowouts involving plugged and abandoned wells.
A proposed oil well inside city limits puts residents and the industry on a collision course
By Gustavo Vieira, April 17, 2012, Macleans.ca
Albertans aren’t known for their opposition to oil wells, given crude’s importance to the province. Then again, most wells aren’t located behind a Wal-Mart and Sleep Country mattress store, let alone just steps from a residential neighbourhood. That’s the prospect facing residents of Calgary’s Royal Oak neighbourhood in the city’s northwest this summer as a deadline nears for a local oil company to drill a well virtually in their backyard. And much like opponents of high-proﬁle projects such as the Northern Gateway through British Columbia and the Keystone XL pipeline into the U.S., they’re doing everything they can to stop it.
... In recent weeks, locals have won support from Sandra Jansen, the Progressive Conservative candidate for Calgary-North West in the upcoming provincial election, who called for the well to be suspended. But even in her opposition, Jansen was careful not to suggest oil wells in general pose any sort of threat. ... read entire article.
By Sheila Weller, March 19, 2007, Huffington Post
... But in meeting the young woman who initiated the suit -- who had two different cancers before age 27; in speaking to a second young woman with the exact same misfortune; and meeting a 28-year old man who had a double bout of non-Hodgkins lymphoma and completed a harrowing bone marrow transplant only to watch a classmate die of pancreatic cancer; in getting to know a young social worker who evinced unbelievable grace in the last throes of terminal Hodgkins -- and to hear about the dozens (since then, hundreds) of other cases of afflicted students and faculty-- it was impossible not to form the personal opinion that this was simply too much cancer in one small population of health-conscious young people to be coincidence, and that (duh) it was wrong to have a large, toxins-emitting oil-drilling operation on top of a school... read entire article.
By Bernard Endres, George V. Chilingarian, and T.F. Yen,
In the Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering. 6 (1991) 95-106 Elsevier Science Publishers B.V., Amsterdam
One of the gravest dangers posed by urban oil-well drilling and production is the potential for explosive methane gas to migrate to the surface from several thousand feet underground. Unless the present-day practices are changed, under-ground migration of methane from oil and gas reservoirs will continue to pose a significant explosion threat. If the operators would systematically follow some basic preventative-management procedures, they could drill and produce safely, without prohibitive cost and in a manner that is environmentally sound.
Today, unfortunately, many oil fields in urban settings are managed by catastrophe rather than preventative management.
This paper discusses appropriate standards for the monitoring of surface gas seepage, and the related problems created by land subsidence due to the fluid withdrawal, as well as procedures necessary to insure the mechanical integrity of well casing and cement, necessary to protect against unwanted gas seepage. Migration of gas along faults is also discussed in this paper.
… Unfortunately, these studies failed to address the increased hazards of gas migration resulting from water injection. Typically, the water injection significantly increases pressures in the reservoir causing gas to migrate to the surface along paths of least resistance. The latter can include faults, fractures, abandoned wells, and producing or idle wells lacking mechanical integrity. Thus, water injection is hazardous in a producing oilfield that also contains improperly abandoned oil wells.
The basic problem of subsidence is caused by the fact that oil production causes stresses to build up in the subsurface geologic strata, increasing the prospect of formation of new fissures and faults and movement along pre-existing fault planes. This will allow gas migration of gas to the surface, substantially increasing the risk of explosion in surface structures located in the vicinity of an oilfield.
… Likewise, injection of fluids into the ground for oil recovery or waste water disposal can trigger faulting. For example, on December 14, 1963, water burst through the foundation of the earth dam of the Baldwin Hills Reservoir, a hilltop water-storage facility located in metropolitan Los Angeles. The contents of the reservoir, some 250 million gallons of water, emptied withing hours onto the communities below the dam, damaging or destroying 277 homes….
It is important to mention here, that subsidence (due to the fluid withdrawal) area is twice (or more) as large as the area of the producing field.
… Although most states have a regulatory agency established to oversee the oil and gas production activities within the state, including certain safety aspects, none of these agencies have developed a systematic or comprehensive program for dealing with the hazards associated with gas seepage, and land subsidence.
Accidents which did occur in the past shows this to be true.
… in October of 1980, a serious gas leak developed in a storage field located in Mont Belview, Texas, a suburb of the greater Houston area. The gas seepage was detected when an explosion ripped through the kitchen of a house upon starting a dishwasher. More than 50 families were evacuated from their homes as a result of the gas leak. ... read entire paper.
In 2001, another nearby well (the 7-25 well) was allegedly fracked in the BQ "A" pool. Subsequently, it became apparent that there was communication in the 7-25 well between the BQ A and the Elkton, CrossAlta's storage reservoir. CrossAlta argued that the fracking of the 7-25 well induced communication with its storage reservoir. CrossAlta objected to Kallisto's application on the basis that the drilling and fracking of the proposed well would similarly pose a significant risk to the integrity of its gas storage reservoir. ... read entire article.
Kansas is Exhibit A for what can happen when gas escapes from an underground storage facility.
By Dion Lefler, October 2, 2011, The Wichita Eagle
In January 2001, gas leaked from an underground salt cavern at Yaggy and flowed seven miles underground to Hutchinson, where it popped up through abandoned brine wells and exploded.
The first explosion destroyed about half a block of downtown businesses and shattered glass for blocks around, but no one was killed.
A day later, gas found another path to the surface and exploded in a mobile home park in east Hutchinson, killing an elderly couple.
It took more than a month for flares to burn off the estimated 143 million cubic feet of gas that escaped from storage.
The downtown businesses were never rebuilt, the mobile home park was closed and the Yaggy field was shut down, although it owners are still slowly drawing down the gas under the supervision of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
Following the accident, the Legislature voted to have two state agencies split responsibility for regulating underground storage of hazardous gases and liquids.
KDHE would regulate man-made underground salt caverns like Yaggy, the only salt storage in the state currently holding natural gas.
The Kansas Corporation Commission would regulate "porosity" fields, where high-pressure gas is pumped into depleted oil fields, gas fields and reservoirs and held until it is piped out to customers. ... more.
Environmental Hazards Posed by the Los Angeles Basin Urban Oilfields: An Historical Perspective of Lessons Learned
Ignoring these issues could result in substantial legal liability upon oilfield operators and upon those responsible for the public safety.
By G.V. Ghillingar and B. Endres, received November 28, 2003, Accepted August 9, 2004, Published online October 26, 2004 in Environmental Geology (2005) 47:302-317
The environmental hazards posed to the urban development by oil and gas field operations are numerous. These hazards must be properly evaluated and mitigation measures implemented in order to protect public safety.
These hazards are caused by gas migration along faults, subsidence caused by the fluid removal with consequent formation of faults and fractures, and by improperly maintained wellbores.
... Methods for reducing risks and mitigation of hazards are discussed. Four aspects of these environmental hazards are presented:
1. Oilfield gas migration into the near-surface deposits and aquifers
2. Soil and groundwater contamination from upward migration of oilfields fluids, mainly gases.
3. Subsidence caused by oilfield fluid withdrawal and declining reservoir pressures.
4. Outgassing and release of air toxics from the oil-and-gas-field operations.
These issues are interactive and must be evaluated in combination.
Ignoring these issues could result in substantial legal liability upon oilfield operators and upon those responsible for the public safety.
Subsidence also results in the formation of faults and fracture zones, which are avenues for the migration of gases.
The March 24, 1985, Ross Department Store explosion
Escaping oilfield gases burned for days through cracks in the sidewalks and within the parking lot surrounding the store....
Also, large quantites of gas were detected migrating to the surface under the Hancock Park Elementary School....
Eventually, well records were obtained that revealed that the well casing had developed leaks as a result of
corrosion holes located at a depth beginning at approximately 366 m, and extending deeper (Endres and others 1991; Khilyuk and others 2000).
... Gas fingerprinting has confirmed that the gas seeps at the La Brea Tar Pits match the leaking gases that caused the Ross Department Store explosion (Jenden 1985).
The City of Los Angeles methane ordinance Existing commercial structures, including the Hancock Park Elementary School, were required to install gas detectors. Unfortunately, the Anthony No. 1 gas well..., that was installed to vent gas from the underlying formation, became plugged in the 1989 time period. Namely, the weekly monitoring of the soil probes failed to provide advanced warning of a near-disaster on February 7, 1989.
The near disaster of February 7, 1989
On the morning of February 7, 1989, a pedestrian who was walking by the Gilmore Bank building ... across the street from the 1985 explosion site, observed gas bubbling through the ground in a planter box. The fire department was called, which led to the discovery of area-wide gas seeps emerging from below the sidewalks and streets, a near repeat of the 1985 incident, but without an explosion. ...
There is overwhelming scientific evidence that the gas accumulations were the direct result of oil and gas production and leaking oil wells. Well records clearly demonstrate that the Metropolitan No. 5 well had developed serious corrosion leaks in the well casing. These leaks were ongoing, and caused large quantities of oilfield gases to leak into secondary collector zones below both the explosion site and under the Hancock Park Elementary School. The gas fingerprinting experts (Schoell and others 1993l Jenden 1985) showed the match between the field production gases and the gas from seeps at the surface....
Virtually all well leaks can be traced to poor well completion and/or abandonment procedures (e.g., poor cementing practices).
Environmental hazards of oil well leaks
Gas intrusion into cemented wellbores and the resultant leakage to the surface and porous formations below the wellhead have been persistent problems in the oil and gas industry for many years (Marlow 1989). ...
Tests showed that even when the most up-to date cement types and techniques are used, leakage can and will occur in a significant number of cases (Marlow 1989 pp. 1147, 1148). For example, in a study of 250 casing jobs over a 15-month period with new cements, 15% of the wells leaked (Watters and Sabins 1980).
Accordingly, the poor cementing and completion practices in the Los Angeles Basin, are giving rise to very serious environmental problems associated with gas leakage to the surface in the annular space, as discussed herein.
Numerous fields have accumulations of hydrogen sulfide that will eventually destroy the integrity of both the steel and cement relied upon to provide protection against gas migration, including abandonments performed to the current standards of the DOGGR. The corrosive conditions of hydrogen sulfide are well know, and have defied engineering solutions (Craig 1993).
South Salt Lake oilfield gas seeps from gas injection
In January 2003, serious gas leakage problems were discovered in the South Salt Lake Oilfield, located in a residential area....
The oilfield operator had been injecting natural gas into the South Salt Lake Oilfield for approximately two years, under elevated pressures to enhance recovery. However, gas began leaking to the surface along abandoned and poorly completed wellbores.
Montebellow underground gas storage
These examples indicate the importance of a systematic examination of how wells leak, and the dangers posed by allowing residential construction to occur directly over old wells. If each well leak is evaluated in isolation of the long history of problems in an area, the true dangers may not be recognized.
There was a release of natural gas from the ground water under several stores. Upon ignition, windows were blown out, and within minutes two businesses were ablaze. The fire department was unable to extinguish the flames because of the ongoing migration of gas into the area. On the following day, leaking gas migrated into a trailer park on the outskirts of town, causing a second explosion, and killing two people. The gas leakage was traced to a leaking storage gas reservoir about 7 miles from town. Possibly, gas migrated along the fractures, formed as a result of subsidence, into the aquifer, and the water carried this gas to the sites of explosions.
Santa Fe Springs oilfield
Approximately 75% of the wells were found to be leaking. The waterflooding for enhanced oilfield recovery can be a dangerous practice due to hydraulic fracturing which would create avenues for the migration of gas to the surface creating an explosive hazard.
Belmont school construction on an oilfield
The project was abruptly halted when gas seepage was detected in the main electrical vault room of the project, just before the power was to be energized.
... Soil gas studies revealed that methane (explosive levels) and other gases are migrating to the surface, including hydrogen sulfide.
... This case history clearly identifies the extreme caution needed in evaluating the environmental suitability of sites located over oilfields, especially for school construction. ... read full report.
By Stephane Massinon, Nov 12, 2011, PostMedia News
B.R. Pirri was watching television with her family when a boom resonated through the home and shook it.
“We heard a big crash, like something fell into the house,” she said.
When she walked around her home looking to see if something heavy like a cabinet fell over, she saw water in the bathrooms.
Minutes later, the fire department arrived and told them to leave right away.
A total of 102 homes were evacuated and residents told to head to the community centre because water and electricity were being turned off.
Fire department spokesman Brian McAsey said six manhole covers appeared to have been blown off and there was smoke coming out of the sewers when the first fire crews arrived.
“It turns out that somehow a product entered the sanitation system,” he said.
Investigators have suspicions about what the product may have been, but are not saying yet. It does not appear criminal in nature and police have not been called in to investigate.
“Someone put a product down a drain and it migrated some distance when it went down there and it ignited obviously,” said McAsey. ... more.
Alberta Environment Investigation Begins Four Months After Home Burns, Manhole Covers Sent Flying in Medicine Hat Sewer Explosion
FRIDAY, 18 NOVEMBER 2011 00:00 ALEX MCCUAIG
Still no culprit identified in June sewer explosion
The provincial investigation into a sewer explosion that saw a home set on fire and manhole covers sent into the air took four months to begin, according to Alberta Environment.
Medicine Hat fire crews were sent scrambling on the evening of June 9 after receiving calls reporting a home fire and two manhole covers being sent into the air.
A municipal investigation tracked the source of the flammable liquids to the city's Light Industrial Area.
In June, city officials said they were working with Alberta Environment to determine the source of the flammable material release and lay possible charges.
In an emailed response to questions about the investigation, Leanne Behrns, Alberta Environment spokesperson, wrote the department "officially opened its investigation in late October."
The email went on to state "the department has two years from the date of the discovery of the offense to press charges."
A Medicine Hat company has been served with a notice of investigation.
However, Behrns noted that publicly identifying the company could jeopardize the investigation.
Rob Renner, Medicine Hat MLA and former Environment minister, also declined to comment on specifics of the case citing the ongoing sensitivity of the inquiries.
Medicine Hat Fire Chief Ron Robinson said city investigators are continuing their efforts to make sure a similar incident does not occur again.
"We're taking this issue very seriously," said Robinson.
He added that preventing dumping of chemicals into sewer systems — whether by an individual or company — requires the entire community to be vigilant.
"We are all responsible to ensure those things don't happen and that is why we are investigating this in such a serious manner."
Calgary saw a similar explosion rock the Arbour Lake neighbourhood sending a half-dozen manhole covers into the air one week ago.
Calgary Fire Department continues to investigate that explosion.
November 14, 2011, The City Of Calgary Newsroom
The Calgary Fire Department's investigation into the explosion in the community of Arbour Lake has been concluded. The product that entered the sanitation sewer could not be identified by the Department ... more.
Alberta Environment Investigation into Medicine Hat Sewer Explosion Results in Charges Against Oilfield Company
A southern Alberta oilfield company has been charged in the release of flammable liquids into a city sewer system. Sonic Oilfield faces five counts of breaching provincial safety code rules after an Alberta Environment investigation. More than 50 litres of a flammable substance were released into Medicine Hat's sewer system on June 9. That same day, a home exploded into flames and manhole covers shot into the air. Investigators found the blasts were caused by a combustible substance in the sewer. An official with Sonic Oilfield declined comment. ... more.
Sonic Oilfield is a recognized industry leader that specializes in all your fluid transportation needs.
They provide 24 hour quality service in tank trucks, crude oil hauling, production water hauling,
fresh water fracs, KCL fracs, methanol water fracs, disposal fluid hauling, blowback recovery ... more.
By EnviroPolitics Blog, December 3, 2011
... The Morning Times reports that:
"a large pool of viscous black fluid was discovered on Pennsylvania Game Land 219 off Regan Hill Road in Warren Township by a neighboring resident. The pool was reportedly two-to-three inches deep and covered an area of approximately 2,100 square feet on the 5,691 acre hunting preserve."
... Talisman Energy Inc., the company operating the gas well from which the fluid apparently was trucked, notified police, determined the identity of the driver, and took full responsibility for the cleanup.
Talisman officials noted that Foster is not their employee but was working at the time for a local trucking company subcontracted by Talisman. ... more.
Haulers and oilfield service companies expressed concern that haulers may be penalized for simply doing what they're told, as they often unknowingly transport radioactive waste.
By Dustin Ingram, January 20, 2012, Williston Herald
State officials from the North Dakota Department of Health met with the public on Thursday to discuss the Williston Landfill's position on hazardous and radioactive substances.
Since June, the landfill has rejected 23 loads due to radiation contaminants. It is unclear where some of the rejected waste ends up, and recently, samples were released by an independent company that showed filter socks and ceramic proppant, among other things used in the oil production process, tested positive for radiation.
According to Scott Jolsten of the City of Williston, the proppant composition used for testing was "new sand," meaning it has not been through the hydraulic fracturing process.
The tests were done for radium-226, radium-228 and lead-210. These materials are naturally occurring radioactive materials, or NORM. Dan Harman, director of the Radiation Division at the North Dakota Department of Health, states that the Environmental Protection Agency excludes the materials from regulation.
... Harman, nor anyone else present from the state's Department of Health, provided an official analysis of whether or not the radiation poses occupational or public health risks.
Employees of the state also told haulers which materials they could not bring to the Williston landfill, but offered no solutions with regard to where and how companies can dispose of radioactive waste.
... Haulers and oilfield service companies expressed concern that haulers may be penalized for simply doing what they're told, as they often unknowingly transport radioactive waste. ... more.
By Dave Dormer, February 11, 2012, Calgary Sun
Hundreds packed into the North West Family Church on Saturday to express concerns over a proposed sweet oil well within city limits.
“We did a survey and over 86 percent of our residents are not in favour of the oil well,” said Ward Sutherland, vice-president of the Rocky Ridge Royal Oak Community Association, which represents roughly 17,000 residents living near the proposed site.
Kaiser Exploration was granted approval from the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) in December to drill an exploratory well near the community of Royal Oak.
General manager Ned Beattie said he expects the work to take between 10 days to three weeks to complete and will be done by July.
“We hope we’ll be able to drill down then run what are called logging tools to see what’s inside the formation and decide if there’s oil there,” he said.
“If there’s not then we plug it and go away.
“If there is then we would complete it and run casing and we would pop holes in the formation and possibly frack it and then hopefully put it on production.” ... more.
Calgary - Rocky Ridge / Royal Oak Community Association (RRROCA)
As it currently stands, Minister Ted Morton has sent numerous form letter replies to our residents. Within the form letter, there are several inaccuracies that Minister Ted Morton is relying on in order to support his refusal to consider preventing the oil well to proceed. We will be sending a letter to Premier Alison Redford pointing out the veritable points within his reply letter and submit a detailed factual account of the process with the ERCB and some deficiencies within Directive 056. Additionally, we will provide reasonable examples that support creating a Urban policy.
We are disappointed that Minister Ted Morton:
1. Does not support preventing the well from proceeding.
2. Has not indicated that Directive 056 requires upgrading and a urban policy is necessary.
We will be sending this letter to Premier Alison Redford shortly, as per our comments above. We are asking her to intervene in this matter; to have the Kaiser application overturned, or call a moratorium on any wells proposed or not currently drill in urban areas.
Lastly, to request an upgrade of Directive 056 and create a urban policy.
Click HERE for a copy of Minister Ted Morton’s reply letter.
Click HERE for a copy of the letter to Premier Alison Redford.
The entire City of Calgary sits on a huge methane bed, which means that sooner or later somebody will want to extract that.
By Damien Wood, June 23, 2012, Calgary Sun
Dale Hodges would rather not see a day when residents have to walk around an oil or gas well in the middle of Olympic Plaza.
It may sound like a long shot, but the Calgary alderman believes it could happen without an urban drilling policy in place.
“We’re trying to get the province’s attention on actually having some policies — which they don’t — on urban areas,” Hodges said.
“I’m not holding my breath, but hopefully the province will decide there should be some rules.”
City council will discuss how it can best accomplish that Monday, but on Sunday there will be a rally for what Lowe called the start to the conversation.
The Rocky Ridge Royal Oak Community Association (RRROCA) is hosting the rally to stop drilling that is being proposed north of Royal Oak, west of 85 St. N.W.
Lowe said the pitch to drill is going to happen again and again. ... more.
Policy review planned for energy developments within urban centres
By Meghan Potkins, June 25, 2012, Calgary Herald
CALGARY — Northwest residents gathered Sunday to protest a proposed oil well near a bustling shopping centre cheered news that provincial officials are mulling a new urban policy for oil and gas projects.
Despite the drizzling rain, more than 100 Rocky Ridge and Royal Oak residents gathered to voice their concerns about Kaiser Exploration’s well near a Walmart off Country Hills Boulevard.
A cheer went up from protesters when Calgary North-West MLA Sandra Jansen announced the province is considering a new policy for drilling within municipal bounds.
“Energy minister Ken Hughes has indicated to me that they have begun the process of working on an urban policy for oil and gas development,” said Jansen. “This is one of the most important things in this community, and our government listened . . . whatever we craft here is going to be a watershed for this province.” ... more.
Oxymorons in the gas patch.
O heavy lightness! Serious vanity! ... cold fire, sick health! -- William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
By Sandra Steingraber - 06/04/2012
... with an insistence on best practices, could drilling and fracking operations be made safe enough to be sited in densely populated communities -- or even sparsely populated communities -- without making the people who live there feel they are living in a war zone?
Or do regulations simply build time bombs with longer fuses?
Is there a benign way to blow up the bedrock and capture the hydrocarbons trapped inside?
Or is fracking inherently dangerous, with no systems of monitoring and enforcement sufficient to make this shock-and-awe form of energy extraction coexistable with farming, ranching, schoolyards, fly fishing, camping, commuting, pregnancy, pollination systems, and mortgage agreements? (Just to provide a few examples.) Or with breathing, sleeping, good health, and a source of clean drinking water? (To provide a few more.)
... Last summer, while traveling across the country, I witnessed the catastrophe that is fracking. I spent some time in northeastern Ohio, where the waste from fracking operations in Pennsylvania comes for burial and causes earthquakes that shake the land. I visited Wisconsin, where strip-mining of sand for fracking operations is turning communities inside out and filling the air with crystalline silica, a lung carcinogen.
In drought-crippled Texas, I watched a fracking truck filled with precious fresh water roll past a hand-lettered sign that read "I need water. U haul. I pay." The gas wells had water. The people didn't.
I was run off the road by a fracking truck in the North Dakota badlands, where a fragile petrified forest stands next to drill rigs and waste pits. I read the church news in western Wyoming, where members of the clergy decried the fracturing of God's creation.
And I was at the courthouse in Salt Lake City on the day that antifracking activist Tim DeChristopher was sentenced to two years in federal prison for the nonviolent disruption of an (illegal) auction of public land to the gas and oil industry. Before he was hauled away by marshals, Tim said to the judge, "This is what love looks like."
So, I'm on board with the unifying message of Stop the Frack Attack.
But the side-stepped question of whether fracking is reformable or innately, irredeemably bad is an important one. The answer determines the list of demands. Reformation or abolition?
My current belief is that safe fracking is an oxymoron even with the best of laws and with their strongest enforcement. At the very least, we should call a national time-out and assess the results of the experiment that has already been set in motion.
Here are some emerging findings that I see as particularly alarming because, if corroborated by further study, they signal that fracking suffers from unmanageable, intractable problems:
• Evidence that fracking mobilizes radioactive materials, including radium-226 and uranium. The problem of radioactive gas appears particularly important for Marcellus Shale in New York State. The natural gas itself contains radon, which is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. (Tobacco is first.) With no safe level of exposure to radiation, the health risks of fracked gas are borne by urban consumers with gas stoves and furnaces as well as by residents living near drilling and fracking operations or the waste dumps where drill cuttings are buried.
• Suggestions that fracking fluids can migrate underground much faster than previously appreciated and enter drinking water supplies via intersecting cracks, fissures, and faults. This nightmare scenario, long scorned by the industry as preposterous was given new life by a study published online last month by the journal Ground Water, which used interpretive modeling to trace potential contaminant pathways from fractured shale to drinking water aquifers.
• The presence of airborne silica in the gas fields. New research presented before the Institution of Medicine roundtable on the health effects of fracking shows that the workers who carry out hydrofracking can be exposed to levels of crystalline silica dust that exceed the recommended safe limit by a factor of ten. Fracking operations rely on silica sand to prop open the rocky fractures created by blasts of high-pressure water and chemicals. These openings allow the gas to flow out. Silica dust is like asbestos fibers: when unconfined, it is prone to flying around, is inhalable, and is deadly. Do we really want it released upwind of schools and neighborhoods where children are present?
• The release of native gases, including benzene, during drilling operations. Gas- and oil-suffused bedrock contains many toxic hydrocarbons, some of them volatile gases. As soon as a hole is drilled into these formations, these fugitive native gases, as they are called, can escape -- before fracking even begins and long before the wellhead is connected up to pipelines. Benzene is an all-purpose carcinogen, linked to leukemia, breast cancer, and children's cancers. It's also a cause of birth defects.
Thus, to Shakespeare's list in Romeo and Juliet -- "O heavy lightness! Serious vanity!... cold fire, sick health!" -- please add safe fracking. It's pretty ugly. ... read entire essay.
Hazard alert issued to protect workers ... what about the communities forced to live with and breathe this stuff?
OSHA and NIOSH issue hazard alert on ensuring workers in hydraulic fracturing operations have appropriate protections from silica exposure.
WASHINGTON, June 21, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health today issued a hazard alert on ensuring that employers in hydraulic fracturing operations take appropriate steps to protect workers from silica exposure. Today's action, which is taken after consultation with stakeholders, including industry, meets the Obama administration's focus on ensuring that this important resource continues to be developed safely and responsibly.
The hazard alert follows a cooperative study by NIOSH and industry partners that identified overexposure to silica as a health hazard to workers conducting hydraulic fracturing operations.
As noted in the alert, respirable silica is a hazard common to many industries and industrial processes.
Because large quantities of silica sand are used during hydraulic fracturing, NIOSH began a cooperative effort in January 2010 to collect data regarding silica exposure at hydraulic fracturing operations. NIOSH worked in cooperation with oil and gas industry partners to sample the air at 11 sites in five states where hydraulic fracturing operations were taking place. NIOSH identified seven primary sources of silica dust exposure during fracturing operations and found that workers downwind of sand mover and blender operations, especially during hot loading, had the highest silica exposures.
Workers who breathe silica day after day are at greater risk of developing silicosis, a disease in which lung tissue reacts to trapped silica particles, causing inflammation and scarring, and reducing the lungs' ability to take in oxygen. Silica also can cause lung cancer and has been linked to other diseases, such as tuberculosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and kidney and autoimmune disease.
Today's action responds to the NIOSH findings. The alert states that employers must ensure that workers are properly protected from overexposure to silica. The alert describes how a combination of engineering controls, work practices, protective equipment and product substitution, where feasible, along with worker training, can protect workers who are exposed to silica. Engineering controls and work practices provide the best protection for workers. According to the alert, transporting, moving and refilling silica sand into and through sand movers, and along transfer belts and into blender hoppers, can release dust into the air containing up to 99 percent silica that workers breathe." ... more.
... the decision to develop such a policy was made by him, not the Progressive Conservative cabinet.
By J. Wood, June 25, 2012, Calgary Herald
A growing provincial population and an expanding oil and gas industry are a volatile mix that is creating the need for an urban drilling policy from the province, Energy Minister Ken Hughes said Monday.
While attention is focused on a proposed oil well in northwest Calgary that has attracted protests from local residents, Hughes said such cases will become more common in densely-populated urban areas, with Alberta expected to add another million people over the next decade.
The government wants to address areas such as setbacks, transportation of product and “what kind of development is appropriate within proximity to human residences,” he said.
“It’s reasonable to anticipate there are going to be increased circumstances where there are competing interests between urban development and energy development. I’d rather deal with that in a way that is more comprehensive rather than on a one-off basis,” said Hughes, who said the decision to develop such a policy was made by him, not the Progressive Conservative cabinet.
The government wants the policy in place within the year. How the rules will be developed hasn’t yet been determined but there will be consultations with stakeholders, said Hughes.
The government’s plans are being closely watched by the energy industry and opposition parties.
Dave Collyer, president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said Monday the issue of how local communities intersect with the energy industry does need to be dealt with, but it raises thorny questions around reconciling public and private interests.
“We need to look at the nature of the activity, look at the risks associated with it and decide . . . how far do we wish to go to mitigate this risk? ... more.
'Without rigorous independent scientific studies, the gas drilling boom sweeping the world will remain an uncontrolled health experiment on an enormous scale'
July 16, 2012, EcoWatch
A compilation of independent scientific studies and reports related to the health impacts of hydrofracking was presented to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo today by a representative of a delegation of medical doctors and scientists.
In a cover letter, the experts have requested a meeting with the Governor to discuss his desire for “the facts and logic and science and information,” which he says will be the basis for his decision on the controversial gas drilling technique. The 275-page digest, culled from tens of thousands of pages of scientific findings, was prepared expressly for the Governor by Grassroots Environmental Education.
“The Governor cannot possibly make an informed decision on one of the most important public health issues of our lifetime based solely on industry-sponsored science, or agency reports that do not include any analysis of the public health impacts of hydro-fracking, particularly on the most vulnerable, which includes our children,” says Dr. Ronald Bishop, professor of biochemistry at SUNY/Oneonta and author of two of the eighteen studies included in the digest.
“We don’t have all the answers we’d like yet,” says Patti Wood, executive director of Grassroots and Visiting Scholar at Adelphi University who helped compile the digest. “But with these studies we can say with certainty that fracking will directly impact the health of everyone living in areas where drilling occurs and potentially contaminate vital air and water resources for millions of people living across the state.”
The digest, which contains a number of peer-reviewed studies that were published after the Department of Environmental Conservation’s comment period officially closed in January, is designed to balance studies sponsored by the gas industry, as well as DEC-commissioned reports that did not include consideration of human health impacts, especially those affecting the most vulnerable populations.
“Without rigorous independent scientific studies, the gas drilling boom sweeping the world will remain an uncontrolled health experiment on an enormous scale,” said Dr. Michelle Bamberger and Dr. Robert Oswald, co-authors of another study which analyzed the impacts of gas drilling on the health of animals and humans.
“We recommend that New York State fully examine the scientific evidence and potential risks presented by hydrofracking and make decisions that protect the health of generations of New York children and the environment they will inherit,” said Dr. Maida Galvez, vice president of District II Chapter 3 of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“We know now that children may have genetic vulnerabilities for such conditions as autism, brain cancers and other chronic diseases, but that environmental insults can trigger the onset or progression, “says pediatric neurologist Dr Maya Shetreat-Klein, assistant clinical professor of Neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “It is imperative that the Governor review the scientific evidence outlining the toxic impact of fracking on children, pregnant women and others.”
An index to the digest and links to all the studies are located on Grassroots Environmental Education’s web site.
Grassroots Environmental Education is an EPA award-winning 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization with offices in Port Washington and Rye, New York. The organization’s mission is to bridge the gap between scientific research and public understanding by educating the public about the links between common environmental exposures and human health, and empowering individuals to act as catalysts for change within their own communities.
New York Regulators Gave Natural Gas Drilling Industry Representatives Exclusive Access to Draft Regulations for Shale Gas Drilling as Early as Six Weeks Before They Were Made Public
Other stakeholders, including local communities and public health and environmental groups were kept in the dark.
By Thomas Cluderay, EWG Assistant General Counsel, EWG.org
In at least one instance, a representative of one of the nation’s most powerful drilling companies used this exclusive access to try to weaken rules restricting discharges of radioactive wastewater.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, known as the DEC, published a 1,500-page environmental impact statement on horizontal drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing on Sept. 7 and corresponding draft regulations on Sept. 28. If adopted, the DEC’s regulatory scheme could allow 50,000 gas wells in New York’s portion of the Marcellus Shale, a vast underground formation that stretches along the Appalachian chain as far south as Kentucky. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D, told an Albany radio station WGDJ Friday he will decide “shortly” whether to proceed with this plan.
What state officials have not disclosed — and documents obtained by EWG reveal — is that drilling companies have received favorable treatment as the state plan has made its way to Cuomo’s desk. A series of emails shows that regulators shared detailed summaries of the DEC plan with drilling representatives between Aug. 15 and Aug. 17 as part of a one-sided “stakeholder outreach.” Only drilling industry representatives received these documents in advance. Other stakeholders, including local communities and public health and environmental groups were kept in the dark.
Having inside information gave drilling industry representatives a unique opportunity to try to influence the state’s plan behind closed doors, before others could weigh in.
On Sept. 26, two days before the DEC went public with its proposed regulations, Thomas West, a prominent Albany attorney for drilling companies including Oklahoma-based Chesapeake Energy Corp., the nation's second-leading natural gas producer, wrote regulators to make “one last pitch” to “reduce or eliminate radionuclide testing” of fluids that storms could wash away from drilling sites.
Wastewater produced by shale gas drilling can contain extremely high concentrations of naturally occurring radionuclides, a type of carcinogenic radioactive pollution. Previous studies by the DEC conducted on wastewater from vertical Marcellus shale gas wells in New York found concentrations that exceeded safe drinking water standards by hundreds of times or more.1 The drilling industry disclosed data to federal regulators showing similarly dangerous levels of radioactive pollution produced from shale gas wells in Pennsylvania.2
West’s efforts just before the draft regulations went public aimed to water down the DEC stormwater permit process, particularly language requiring testing of water runoff from drilling sites for radioactive contaminants. The strictness or laxity of the stormwater permitting process is critical to New York’s water supplies because drilling for shale gas could occur near communities devastated by flooding several times in the past decade. Heavy rain in these areas could channel radioactive contaminants and other drilling pollution into public water sources. ... more.
Of particular concern, a lobbyist for scandal-ridden gas giant Chesapeake Energy used the exclusive access to the draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) to attempt to weaken the proposed rules restricting discharges of radioactive wastewater.
By Brendan DeMelle, June 28, 2012, Huffington Post
Documents obtained by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) show that bureaucrats within the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NY DEC) granted the oil and gas industry premature access to highly controversial draft regulations for shale gas fracking in the state. New York placed a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing for gas in order to evaluate the science on the risks posed to drinking water, air quality and the health of New York's citizens and the environment.
The documents, obtained by EWG through New York's Freedom of Information Law, show that the fracking industry received an unfair advantage thanks to DEC officials who provided detailed summaries of their proposed rules exclusively to oil and gas industry representatives. This allowed industry a six-week head start to lobby state officials to weaken the proposed standards before the public was granted access to the plan.
Of particular concern, a lobbyist for scandal-ridden gas giant Chesapeake Energy used the exclusive access to the draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) to attempt to weaken the proposed rules restricting discharges of radioactive wastewater.
Thomas West, a prominent oil and gas industry lobbyist representing Chesapeake and other industry clients, made "one last pitch" -- in an email to DEC Deputy Commissioner and General Counsel Steven Russo -- to "reduce or eliminate radionuclide testing" of fluids that could migrate from drilling sites during storms, according to the documents.
NY DEC has previously found concentrations of cancer-causing radioactive pollution at shale gas drilling sites that exceeded safe drinking water standards by hundreds of times or more, according to EWG's report "Inside Track: Cuomo Team Gives Drillers Jump Start to Influence Fracking Rules." ... more.
Devon Energy's South Odessa Pipeline Leaks More than 13,000 Barrels of Produced Water Near Neighborhood
Devon Energy stated they do not know when the pipeline leak started.
By Felicia Bolton, July 2, 2012, CBS 7 Reporter,
Odessa, TX – Today the Railroad Commission of Texas stated approximately 13,300 barrels of produced water spilled and about ½ barrel of oil was lost at the Devon Energy pipeline leak in south Odessa.
Devon Energy stated they do not know when the pipeline leak started. The leak is near the south Odessa neighborhood of South Fork.
Many neighbors stated they are upset they were never informed.
“We'll I'd like to know of any spill or any gas or anything like that. If it affects me or my property or my neighbors,” stated resident Keith Trott.
Devon Energy and the Railroad Commission of Texas stated the spill is not oil, but produced water from a formation.
"Since the produced water is associated with crude oil and natural gas, small amounts of residual hydrocarbons may also be found in the produced water," stated Gaye McElwain with the Railroad Commission of Texas. ... more.
Penn West Cleaning Up 300,000 Liters of Produced Water After Pipeline Leak into Canola Crop East of Red Deer
The underground pipe is a 10-cm line that carried 'produced water,' which means it can also carry hydrocarbons and other chemicals.
“Crews are cleaning up and investigating after a pipeline leak in a canola field east of Red Deer earlier this week.
Up to 300,000 litres of water previously used in an oil well spilled from the line, according to estimates by Penn West Exploration, the Calgary-based company that owns the line.
…Unable to find the problem aerially, employees walked the line and found the leak in a farm field about 10 kilometres east of Red Deer, near Joffre.
… The underground pipe is a 10-cm line that carried “produced water,” which means it can also carry hydrocarbons and other chemicals.” ... more.
Calgary, Alberta (November 16, 2011)
... The ERCB believes that it is very important for applicants to assess alternative locations and to present evidence of analysis of the social, economic, and environmental factors which determine which option is preferred; especially where there are objections to a proposed location.
The Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) has issued Decision 2011-033, which denies an application by Bernum Petroleum Ltd. to drill a horizontal oil well approximately 4.5 kilometres east of Cochrane, Alberta. ... more.
Not to be Denied, Bernum Re-emerges with Plans to Frack Near Calgary's Largest Source of Drinking Water
Bernum Petroleum has applied to use the controversial method ... at a site near Calgary’s biggest source of drinking water. ... Water scientist David Schindler agrees the proposal to drill a well just three kilometres from the Bearspaw Reservoir is a cause for concern.
CBC News Posted: Jul 4, 2012 11:07 AM MT
A company that wants to frack for oil close to Calgary city limits is facing opposition from nearby residents who fear the project will poison their tap water.
Bernum Petroleum has applied to use the controversial method — which involves blasting a mixture of water and chemicals into the ground to release trapped oil or gas — at a site near Calgary’s biggest source of drinking water.
Joan Gusa, whose family farms land on the city’s northwest outskirts, worries about the drilling’s possible effects.
“With all of the problems recently that have come out about fracking and how it has contaminated the water wells ... that is a concern,” she said.
Fracking has been banned in parts of the US, Europe and in Quebec over environmental concerns.
Water scientist David Schindler agrees the proposal to drill a well just three kilometres from the Bearspaw Reservoir is a cause for concern.
“It’s very controversial and I am surprised that the Alberta government has not put a halt on it until more research has been done.”
Schindler says not enough is known about the impact of increased fracking on ground and surface water.
“There are suggestions coming in from competent scientists around the world that what is going on has a big environmental downside,” he said.
But according to Bob Curran, who speaks for Alberta's Energy Resource Conservation Board (ERCB), the province has strict regulations around fracking.
And so far the drilling method has not caused any environmental problems in Alberta, he said. ... more.
The additional monitoring system was not prompted by the horizontal gas well drilling occurring beneath the lake
"This is to protect our water system from an intentional contamination by terrorists"
By Susan Schrock, October 29, 2012, Star-Telegram
Arlington, Texas - The city plans to install new sensors at Lake Arlington to identify contaminants, such as spilled gasoline, that could harm the water treatment system as well as detect whether someone has intentionally poisoned the water, officials said.
The Arlington City Council is set to vote on about $250,000 in contracts tonight for phase three of the citywide water quality monitoring and event detection system project, which started in 2009.
Arlington, the seventh most populous city in the state, already has spent about $1.3 million installing contaminant sensors at its water treatment plants and critical, undisclosed locations throughout the city that includes the entertainment district -- home to Cowboys Stadium, the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, the Arlington Convention Center, Six Flags Over Texas and Hurricane Harbor.
"This is to protect our water system from an intentional contamination by terrorists," said Terry Benton, assistant director of operations for the city's Water Utilities Department. "It does offer us numerous other benefits. We can look at the water quality in those locations and we can see how our system is working."
The Environmental Protection Agency worked with the city to identify where to place the sensors, which are designed to alert water utilities and public safety staff about potential contamination events that could harm the public. Sensors that constantly monitor the water supply system in the entertainment district were added in phases before the NBA All-Star Game in 2010 and Super Bowl XLV in 2011, both held at Cowboys Stadium, according to a staff report.
Lake Arlington, which has more than 2,200 surface acres and holds an estimated 15 billion gallons of water, supplies drinking water to more than 500,000 people. The city plans to have the new water quality monitoring sensors in place there by next May.
Benton said the monitors are designed to detect contaminants ranging from algae blooms to manmade toxins.
... "If we know what is coming into the plant, that will help us adjust our treatment processes to get the best quality of water that we can," Benton said.
... The additional monitoring system was not prompted by the horizontal gas well drilling occurring beneath the lake, Benton said.
In July 2010, a small amount of produced water from Quicksilver Resource's Olcott South drill site in Fort Worth leaked into Lake Arlington after the shutoff valve of the storage container was apparently left open. Arlington tested the water but found no contamination related to the spill, officials reported.
"It was far enough way from the treatment intake. We couldn't find anything tremendously wrong," Benton said. ... more.
The company recently made a financial contribution to the Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park
By Derek Clouthier
Cochrane Eagle, Sept.12.2012
The Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) granted the licences to the Calgary company Bernum Petroleum, who will be the operator for the two new wells.
Birch Lake Energy, also a Calgary company, is a significant partner as well.
'Bernum will drill its first well in north Springbank in the fall of 2012,' Bernum CEO and chairman Marshall Abbott indicated in an email, “and anticipates drilling and completion to be finalized before the end of the year.”
Addressing persistent concerns some area residents have had over the issue of hydraulic fracturing, ‘fracking,’ Marshall said his company has made several attempts to ensure people receive accurate information about the process of oil and gas extraction.
Marshall pointed to an open house the company held in Springbank just over a year ago as an example of how Bernum has made efforts to educate residents on new technology and Bernum’s proposed activities.
To protect ground-water resources – perhaps the most litigious issue surrounding fracking – Bernum uses a protective casing for their wellbore, which consists of a high-strength steel pipe cemented into place, to prevent any oil, gas or frack-fluid flowback from finding its way into the water table.
Marshall said Bernum has drilled and completed over 200 wells using hydraulic fracturing in their experience, and that within the north Lochend area, approximately 60 have been drilled to date.
'According to the ERCB,' Marshall stated, 'over 171,000 wells have been drilled in Alberta with no documented cases of water contamination in relation to hydraulic fracturing.'
Cochrane, north Springbank and Roxana are the three primary areas of operation for Bernum. ... more.
By Ian Urbina, Oct. 19, 2011, The New York Times
... some banks have become reluctant to grant mortgages on properties leased for gas drilling. At least eight local or national banks do not typically issue mortgages on such properties, lenders say ... the banking industry is only starting to appreciate the complexity and possible consequences.
In private e-mails, some lenders said drilling leases could create problems for getting a mortgage. It is 'very difficult to obtain financing due to the potential hazard' as well as 'unknowns' ... research showed the value of properties closest to drilling would likely decrease.
Some real estate agents have started raising red flags. 'When you decide to sell your house you may find it difficult to do so because many banks, here and elsewhere, will not mortgage properties with gas leases, which, in turn, limits the number of buyers willing and able to buy your property ...' more
Some of those people will simply end up walking away in order to protect the health of their families.
By Kurt Cobb, May 24, 2012, Oilprice.com
One fact ought to tell you all you need to know about the risks faced by homeowners signing leases for natural gas drilling on their property: Wells Fargo & Company, both the largest home mortgage lender in the United States and a major lender to the country's second largest producer of natural gas, Chesapeake Energy Corp., refuses to make home loans for properties encumbered with natural gas drilling leases.
This salient fact comes from an article (PDF) written for the New York State Bar Association Journal by attorney Elisabeth N. Radow. Written in the form of an even-tempered legal brief, Radow relates one astounding finding after another. Perhaps most relevant to homeowners who either have signed drilling leases or who may be asked to sign them in the future is this: "Signing a gas lease without lender consent is likely to constitute a mortgage default." You read that right. Default.
Her conclusion stems from something which most homeowners probably don't even realize:
Standard residential mortgages prohibit:
the use, disposal, storage, or release of any hazardous substances on, under or about the mortgaged property. In mortgages, hazardous substances include gasoline, kerosene, other flammable or toxic petroleum products, volatile solvents, toxic pesticides and herbicides, materials containing asbestos or formaldehyde and radioactive materials.
Of course, homeowners often have and use some of the above-mentioned materials. But the lenders may invoke their rights should industrial-sized activities such as hydraulic fracturing or fracking occur. Fracking, a process often associated with natural gas drilling, utilizes a cocktail of hazardous chemicals mixed with water. Millions of gallons of the mixture are pumped under high pressure into each well to fracture deep shale formations and thereby release the embedded natural gas found there. Beyond this, homeowners with mortgages are prohibited from violating any environmental laws, federal, state or local. Can they always count on drillers to observe those laws?
... Some of those who signed leases for drilling so-called coal-bed methane in Colorado and then experienced problems ended up with losses on their homes that reached 85 percent. In some instances, property owners merely situated near drilling and production have suffered. A Pennsylvania couple was recently denied a new mortgage on their home and hobby farm because according to the lender "gas wells and other structures in nearby lots...can significantly degrade a property's value." The owners came to the logical conclusion that if they cannot refinance their own home, no potential buyer would likely be able to get a mortgage to purchase it should the couple ever want to sell.
Others who've had their water supply contaminated but could not prove it was due to nearby natural gas drilling are facing a wipeout since their homes are now worth far less than the mortgages on them. Some of those people will simply end up walking away in order to protect the health of their families.
But why not turn to one's insurance company to pay for damage to one's property? It turns out that homeowners insurance almost always excludes damage from industrial operations on one's residential property, Radow writes. And, that's what natural gas drilling is, an industrial operation. Even for those who escape the problems of water contamination and human and animal health effects, there remains the ever present possibility of damaging explosions and fires from drilling and production operations. Homeowners insurance won't pay for that either.
Surely, the drilling companies are responsible for explosions and fires linked to their operations. Unlike water contamination which is usually an underground phenomenon and often difficult to prove, it should be obvious that the companies are responsible for damage from explosions and fires caused by their actions. Don't count on it, Radow seems to say. In such circumstances, homeowners may have to sue for damages and even if they win, they may not get paid for all damages since the natural gas drillers admit in their regulatory filings that they may not carry enough insurance to pay for damage due to such mishaps. ... more.
The reasons why property values fall so significantly are because of the negative impacts of fracking.
By Leigh Doyle, October 9, 2012, Canadian Real Estate Magazine
But that’s not the only challenge that the secrecy of the gas companies creates. Companies do not disclose where the wells themselves will be drilled. So an investor who buys a triplex in a town where drilling is expected to begin could end up with a well in their back yard—and that’s bad news for property values.
A Colorado study done in 2001 in La Plata County showed that properties with coal-bed methane gas wells were valued 22% less than similar properties without wells. More recently, says Chase, 'property values have plummeted 70% and some people have walked away from their homes.'
The reasons why property values fall so significantly are because of the negative impacts of fracking. The drilling can release toxic gases—including explosive methane—into the air, contaminate water sources and reduce the look of the property.
These side effects are triggering mortgage companies in the U.S. to take a second look at properties near or on wells. It’s becoming increasingly common for buyers to be denied mortgages for homes in areas where fracking is taking place. Insurance companies are also being cautious. Some are no longer insuring homes that have gas wells near by. ... more.
In Cochrane, area landowners have reported broken windows and cracked foundations after extensive fracking operations for shale oil.
By Andrew Nikiforuk, 23 Feb 2012, TheTyee.ca
Alberta's energy regulating agency yesterday held a technical briefing for media on the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing. The picture that emerged was of a province playing catch-up with continental events that have other governments' regulators and researchers on high alert.
... A 2011 US Congress report disclosed that fracking fluids can include coffee grinds, salt, ceramic balls, walnut hulls, lead, petroleum distillates, methanol, (a dirty air pollutant) benzene, toluene, xylene and millions of gallons of diesel. Many are proven cancer-makers.
Moreover, Hill admitted that he knew of no toxic fluids "that are prohibited" in the province. Many jurisdictions, for example, banned diesel fuel as a fracking fluid years ago to protect groundwater.
Hill said that there had been reports of earthquakes associated with hydraulic fracturing near Cochrane, Alberta but no definitive correlation.
"We don't have any correlation between hydraulic fracturing and clusters of earthquakes you can feel." In Cochrane, area landowners have reported broken windows and cracked foundations after extensive fracking operations for shale oil.
Hill said there are approximately 100 fluid injection wells that pump fracking waste water from oil and gas site two miles into the earth. These facilities have been associated with strong earthquake activity in British Columbia, Ohio, Arkansas and Texas. But not in Alberta, said Hill.
... Despite a major increase in horizontal multi-stage fracking in oil shale formations (some 3,300 wells since 2008), the province has not allotted more money for earthquake, groundwater, gas migration or wellbore integrity monitoring. (The Alberta Geological Survey recently beefed up seismic monitoring after dozens of earthquakes a decade in the province turned into hundreds after 1985.)
"Nothing specific" has been set aside for additional monitoring admitted Hill. ... more.
The suit says that the companies’ 'ultrahazardous' actions have made residents fear for their safety and caused the cost of earthquake insurance to skyrocket.
By Mike Soraghan, July 5, 2012, E&E Publishing - (Subscription Required)
'Defendants, experienced in these operations, were well aware of the connection between injection wells and seismic activity, and acted in disregard of these facts,' says the suit, filed by the Little Rock class-action firm Emerson Poynter LLP on behalf of Stephen Hearn and several other residents of Faulkner County, Ark.
The suit says that the companies’ 'ultrahazardous' actions have made residents fear for their safety and caused the cost of earthquake insurance to skyrocket.
… Scientists are investigating whether other earthquakes in Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas are linked to drilling activities such as waste injection. Seismologists at the U.S. Geological Survey have suggested that some of those quakes, along with the Arkansas swarm, are part of a “remarkable” increase in the number of earthquakes in the middle of the country that is “almost certainly man-made” and likely linked to oil and gas operations (EnergyWire, March 29). First Amended and Consolidated Class Action Complaint
'After months of research and discussion, we have determined that the exposures presented by hydraulic fracturing are too great to ignore.'
AP By Mary Esch, July 12, 2012, Huffington Post
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. has become the first major insurance company to say it won't cover damage related to a gas drilling process that blasts chemical-laden water deep into the ground.
The Columbus, Ohio-based company's personal and commercial policies "were not designed to cover" risk from the drilling process, called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, Nationwide spokeswoman Nancy Smeltzer said Thursday.
... Health and environmental groups claim fracking can contaminate drinking water. The gas industry says it's safe if done properly. Nationwide said risks involved in fracking operations "are too great to ignore" and apply to policies of commercial contractors and landowners who lease property to gas companies.
The Nationwide policy first came to light when an internal memo detailing underwriting guidelines was posted on websites of upstate New York anti-fracking groups and landowner coalitions seeking gas leases. Smeltzer confirmed that the memo was genuine but said it wasn't intended for public dissemination.
The memo reads: "After months of research and discussion, we have determined that the exposures presented by hydraulic fracturing are too great to ignore. Risks involved with hydraulic fracturing are now prohibited for General Liability, Commercial Auto, Motor Truck Cargo, Auto Physical Damage and Public Auto (insurance) coverage."
It said "prohibited risks" apply to landowners who lease land for shale gas drilling and contractors involved in fracking operations, including those who haul water to and from drill sites; pipe and lumber haulers; and operators of bulldozers, dump trucks and other vehicles used in drill site preparation. ... more.
Beckie Dean says her homeowner's insurance will not cover repairing the damage to her walls and ceilings. The drilling company has not admitted responsibility and she admits it may be hard to prove.
By Dick Russ, December 5, 2012, WKYC-TV
WINDHAM -- A homeowner says cracking walls and crumbling mortar are being caused by a nearby well.
Beckie Dean blames the "enormous" damage to her 11-year-old house on the drilling operation just across the street, about 1,000 feet away.
She says the cracks began to appear in September, soon after the well went online.
"We've had two contractors, two structural engineers come in, and they both said it is defintely vibration cracks and they ruled out every other source of vibration except for the drilling rig," Dean told WKYC.
Dean has noted every crack and writes the time and date it appeared next to it, on her walls and ceiling. She pointed to her fireplace which has loose mortar and had two decorative rocks fall off of it.
"After that, water began to leak through the chimney into the house," she recalled. "You could feel the mortar as wet as the day they built it."
The soon-to-be former flight attendant said she had an impossible time getting the required hours of rest before work, because of the constant drone and thud of the drilling equipment.
"It was like a helicopter," is how Dean described it. "It's like the helicopter is on the ground, or there is a diesel semi truck outside your bedroom window 24/7."
The eastern Portage County homeowner made an audio recording one day at 3 a.m. of the noise inside her bedroom, where the windows were closed.
She has also had several visits from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, which regulates drilling.
They took video inside her house and made other observations during their investigation, including recording the vibrations caused by the well.
"The sound is always there, you can't get it out of your head," she said, and answered a question about how she gets enough sleep by saying, "You don't. You don't. You don't."
"Some of us have given up our jobs because of safety issues, some of us are just rag-tired, and thank God our bosses are sympathetic to us."
... She hopes her experience will be a warning to anyone thinking of leasing their land, and to those in the neighborhood where a fracking well is planned.
"They see the dollar signs, they see the large number and they see the dollar sign. They don't' see what's coming to their community," she warns. "They don't see that the big trucks are coming in. They don't see that their children's lives are over."
Beckie Dean says her homeowner's insurance will not cover repairing the damage to her walls and ceilings. The drilling company has not admitted responsibility and she admits it may be hard to prove.
"We are stuck. We are stuck. We're absolutely stuck," she said. "There's 14 wells going in across the road. It'll be ten years before they're done." ... more.
By Vitaly V. Adushkin. Vladimir N. Rodionov. Sergey Turuntaev. Institute of Dynamics of Geospheres,. Russian Academy of Sciences, 2000. Much of this article originally appeared in the Schlumberger Russian version of the Oilfield Review, Neftegasovoye Obozreniye 5, no.1 (Spring 2000): 4:15.
… The amassed data indicate that the Gazli earthquakes were triggered by the exploitation of the gas field.
… In regions of high tectonic potential energy, hydrocarbon production can cause severe increases in seismic activity and trigger strong earthquakes, as in Gazli, Uzbekistan.
In regions of lower tectonic stress, earthquakes of that magnitude are less likely, but relatively weak earthquakes could occur and damage surface structures. ... more.
NAM says it has already received some 2,500 damages claims and has processed 500 of them.
By dutchnews, February 05, 2013
Householders in Groningen have made a further 200 claims for damages against natural gas extraction company NAM over the past week, news agency ANP reports. The new claims follow widespread publicity about the impact of gas extraction from massive underground reserves in the province and the risk of heavier earthquakes. NAM says it has already received some 2,500 damages claims and has processed 500 of them. ‘We are doing this in a simple, decent way,’ NAM director Bart van de Leemput told local broadcaster RTV Noord-Holland.
Last week, an economic affairs ministry report said gas extraction may cause earthquakes of between 4 and 5 on the Richter scale, not up to 3.9 as earlier thought. Locals say the €100m which NAM has set aside to prevent damage to vulnerable buildings is not nearly enough. ... more.
Chiel Seinen, a spokesman for the gas consortium known as NAM, said the extraction had created at least 1,800 faults in the region’s subsoil.
By Herman Wouters, March 27, 2013, The New York Times
LOPPERSUM, the Netherlands — Jannes Kadyk’s modest brick home suffered more than $5,000 in damage. Bert de Jong’s more stately home will need about $500,000 to get back into shape.
Both houses, like thousands of others, were damaged during recent earthquakes that have shaken the flat farmland in this area dotted with villages and tucked up against the North Sea.
The quakes were caused by the extraction of natural gas from the soil deep below. The gas was discovered in the 1950s, and extraction began in the 1960s, but only in recent years have the quakes become more frequent, about 18 in the first six weeks of this year, compared with as few as 20 each year before 2011.
Chiel Seinen, a spokesman for the gas consortium known as NAM, said the extraction had created at least 1,800 faults in the region’s subsoil.
“These faults are seen as a mechanism to induce earthquakes,” he said.
… Yet the number of claims for damaged property is already in the thousands, and the company extracting the gas, a consortium of Shell and Exxon Mobil, has set aside $130 million for measures to strengthen buildings against the shocks. Yet most troubling is that experts at government agencies are predicting that the quakes will worsen, to between a magnitude of 4 and 5.
Is the big one yet to come? Mr. Kadyk, 62, a retired city employee, pointed to cracks around doors and windows in his two-story brick home. He said he was “not an expert, so I cannot say yes or no, but the real experts say if we don’t stop extracting gas, the country risks further earthquakes.”
… Membership in a grass-roots organization called the Groningen Soil Movement, for the province of Groningen, where Loppersum lies, has jumped to 800 people from 200 in the past two years. In a survey of 686 residents published this month, almost two-thirds said they wanted the amount of gas extracted to be cut; 16 percent wanted it stopped altogether.
“We believe safety is not the top priority,” said Daniella Blanken, a computer programmer and a Soil Movement board member.
The national government in The Hague insists it is. The northern region is particularly vulnerable because much of it lies below sea level, protected from North Sea waters by huge dikes. If earthquakes threatened the dikes or the intricate system of canals and locks that lace the land, the loss of life could be catastrophic.
… Studies by Shell and Exxon Mobil, as well as by government agencies like the state mining regulator, showed that prior assumptions about the size of possible earthquakes were wrong. “Tremors greater than 3.9 are possible,” he wrote. The mining agency in particular, he said, advised him to urge Exxon Mobil and Shell to “reduce gas extraction in the Groningen field as quickly and as much as is feasibly possible.”
… Mr. de Jong, 60, a civil engineer by training who now heads the local school board, disagreed. The risk of greater tremors, he said, “affects the whole region. Banks don’t want to invest anymore, and you cannot sell a house here.”
Ms. Blanken of the Soil Movement described profits for the region from the sale of gas as minuscule. “About one-half of 1 percent of the gas income flows back,” she said.
Mr. de Jong’s farmhouse was built in 1894, when farming brought considerable wealth to the area. Elegant Art Nouveau ceilings with carved-wood flowers were installed before 1920, he said. Yet after quakes last August and in February, the ceilings are cracked, and the one in the dining room threatens to fall. The brick walls of the house now bulge by about four inches and will require buttressing, as will two brick chimneys that are in danger of collapse. A balcony that runs along the facade, supported by slender cast-iron columns, must be replaced.
“We are not sure what these lighter tremors are doing,” he said, sipping tea in his living room. “Maybe they are destroying the buildings piece by piece.”
“Yet if people are killed in the area, what then?” he asked.
“We feel taken hostage,” he said. “A hostage in your own home.” ... more.
'Drilling and fracturing at Chesapeake Energy’s Corn Valley drill site may… possibly contribute to a catastrophic dam failure,'
GRAND PRAIRIE (CBSDFW.COM) – On one side of the Joe Pool Dam lies the lake. On the other lives Rosemary Reed. “You can see the line of the dam,” she says pointing over her fence in Grand Prairie’s Westchester neighborhood.
Then, last year, a new neighbor arrived, the Chesapeake Energy Company, and it started drilling for natural gas right behind her home. “The house is shaking. Everything you own is shaking. The ground is moving,” said Reed, describing what it felt like.
Reed worried the drilling could be dangerous, and combing through the city’s public records, she found evidence she might be right. “Drilling and fracturing at Chesapeake Energy’s Corn Valley drill site may… possibly contribute to a catastrophic dam failure,” wrote the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the group that built the Joe Pool Lake Dam, in a letter to Grand Prairie in February. ... more.
The cause for the concern is a natural gas drill site operated by Chesapeake Energy roughly 500 feet from the dam.
GRAND PRAIRIE (CBSDFW.COM) – A professional river guide and an avid canoeist, Marc McCord lives for the water. “To me, it feels like I’m in heaven. It’s the most serene, calm place I ever am in my life.”
For him, a strong warning by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about possible “catastrophic dam failure” at Joe Pool Lake seems very realistic. “I think it’s absolutely appropriate. And I think it’s long overdue.”
The cause for the concern is a natural gas drill site operated by Chesapeake Energy roughly 500 feet from the dam.
McCord, in fact, says he called the Corps back in September – to ask if it was safe for Chesapeake to be drilling so close. “They said they were unaware of how close it was to the dam.”
Chesapeake says the dam is closer to 1,000 feet to the north of the dam, and does not go under it. A full statement from Chesapeake is below.
A dam failure, though, would flood more than just the city of Grand Prairie – to whom the Corps of Engineers letter was addressed.
Dallas City Council member Scott Griggs said the city is aware of the Corps’ concern – and actively addressing it. “Certainly the distance that drilling and hydraulic fracturing should be permitted to occur from levis and dams is a critical question we’re answering.”
Dallas currently has a task force overhauling the city ordinances on drilling. For now, no permits being given. Until it reviews analysis. ... more.
1963 Baldwin Hills Dam Collapse - An Oil Field Operations Link
Proposals for a new city ordinance don’t call for any mandatory space between drilling or fracking sites and the systems that keep floods out of homes and neighborhoods.
By Randy Lee Loftis
Published: 28 May 2012 10:56 PM
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is so concerned that natural-gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing might damage its dams and levees that it doesn’t want any wells within 3,000 feet of them.
Not so the city of Dallas. Already, it has collected millions of dollars by leasing out possible gas-drilling land that’s slap up against its Dallas Floodway levees — land that would be undrillable if Dallas adopted the corps’ policy.
Proposals for a new city ordinance don’t call for any mandatory space between drilling or fracking sites and the systems that keep floods out of homes and neighborhoods.
They do, however, advocate no-drill zones for a range of other land uses, such as for schools, churches, houses, big offices and recreational areas.
Other land uses besides levees that would be exempt from specific setback requirements under the new rules include cemeteries, mausoleums and taxidermy shops.
One City Council member wants dams and levees to get more protection than the places that mount deer heads and champion bass. ... more.
By Dick Meehan, Engineer, Adjunct Professor Stanford University 1978-2012
During 2012 Plains Exploration and Production Company released a series of technical studies which purported to demonstrate that the companies' oil recovery operations in Los Angeles including fracking have no adverse effect on the public.
The case is made here that this is not true. The oilfield activities in Los Angeles Inglewood oilfield have in fact resulted in activation of geologic faulting affecting residential property and two elementary schools.
This 14 minute video presents the evidence for oilfield causation of surface and property damage in an urban setting.
It also demonstrates that hydraulic fracturing for hydrocarbon recovery per se can be hazardous in relatively shallow geologic environments such as are common in California, and that conclusions reached on the basis of deep shale experience elsewhere are not universally valid.
Meeting to Discuss Fracking
By: The Eagle - September 12, 2012
Those interested in learning more about fracking can attend a community fracking forum this weekend.
The meeting will be held at the Weedon Pioneer Community Hall, located west of Cochrane, from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sept. 15.
The forum will feature a number of guest spearkers and the purpose is to educate, inform and educate residents about fracking in the areas of Cochrane, Calgary and southern Alberta.
Such topics of discussion may include health costs; financial impact of fracking on area residents and taxpayers; water use and contamination and other issues surrounding air and water concerns.
'A fellow drove by one of those flare shields — he came to me the next day he had a bubbling red rash.… He had boils on his forehead. One of my other neighbours had to shoot six cows that had rampant cancer'
CBC News Sep 15, 2012
About 40 people living in and around the Cochrane area west of Calgary gathered Saturday to rally against fracking.
... Many people, including Karen Faulk, are concerned about air and groundwater contamination.
“When you start taking random stories, you start to see patterns and for me I ask why?” Faulk explained.
Her concerns are echoed by many who showed up to the rally including.
“A fellow drove by one of those flare shields — he came to me the next day he had a bubbling red rash.… He had boils on his forehead. One of my other neighbours had to shoot six cows that had rampant cancer,” said Gary Tresidder at the rally.
Local residents say people living near the wells are losing their hair and they worry cancer rates are higher in those areas. ... more.
Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD), Alberta Energy and Alberta Health Services (AHS) have also been requested to participate in the open house.
Industry Representatives To Host Oil And Gas Workshop In Cochrane ... No Word On Alberta Health
Representatives from the ERCB, Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resources and Rocky View County will be available ...
Dec. 7, 2012 - As one resident who attended the Open House reported ...
"It was announced at the Open House to a room full of visibly impacted residents;
'Alberta Health couldn't make it.'"
By The Cochrane Eagle, February 27, 2013
Planning for what one wants to happen when the end of their life nears is normally not at the top of the priority list, but important nonetheless.
Alberta Health Services (AHS) is holding a session at the Nan Boothby Memorial Library today (Feb. 27) to address this issue. ... more.
WEBSITE - STOP THE KAISER OIL WELL
Stop the Kaiser Oil Well Rally:
Date: June 24th, SUNDAY
Time: NOON to 2:00 p.m.
8888 Country Hills Boulevard N.W.
Rural and Urban, Will Fracking and the Resulting Toxic Industrialization of Our Communities Be the Unhealthy Bond We All Share?
'The first case that really caught my attention, and really caught most people’s attention, was that case in Louisiana where 17 cows died within an hour that is highly unusual for cattle being exposed to petroleum products,' Bamberger said. 'Usually, they’ll die within one to three days, not an hour.'
... The team analyzed 24 cases of affected animals, including cows, goats, chickens, horses, deer, birds, cats, koi, llamas and humans across six states (Colorado, Louisiana, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Texas). Reproductive problems were most common, but other symptoms in both animals and humans included upper respiratory issues, burning of the eyes, nosebleeds, diarrhea, vomiting, rashes, headaches and neurological problems.
Poisoned animals portend danger not only because they may degrade the nation’s food supply but also because they serve as indicators of or, in the paper’s terms, “sentinels” for, human health. Since these animals have faster reproductive cycles and shorter generation times than humans, more can be learned and earlier about the health effects of gas drilling by studying them first, the paper argues.
By the paper’s logic, such animals are inadvertent “canaries in a coalmine.”
'What I suspect is that if I follow these cases long enough I am going to start to see reproductive effects in people too,' Bamberger said. ... more.
Energy: Fracking proves unpopular, even in Texas
... “I hear the stories of other neighborhoods in other areas,” Ruben said, referring to a moratorium on drilling. “If you’re going to drill, drill out in the suburbs — way out in the suburbs, or further out in rural areas.”
...“Natural gas drilling flew under the radar for several years,” said Wendel Withrow, chair of the Dallas Sierra Club. “But now the biggest one you're finding out is dangerous chemicals — like benzene — are released during the actual drilling process.”
The natural gas industry has insists drilling is safe, and that it takes extra precautions to protect its neighbors.
In 2008, the Dallas City Council, facing a budget shortfall, leased the rights to drill on 2,200 acres of city-owned land — much of it in western Dallas.
Two drilling companies, XTO Energy and Trinity East Energy, agreed to pay the city $34 million for the rights to drill for natural gas.
Much of the land involved is rural. However, sites available for drilling include the Dallas Naval Air Station (also known as Hensley Field), Love Field Airport, and the L.B. Houston golf course in North Dallas.
“(The City of Dallas) should look at those other cities and say there is a problem — at least a potential problem,” Withrow said. “They should put a moratorium on those drilling permits until these questions can be answered.”... read entire article.
Will the Bow River Become a Lifeline for Frackers?
Calgary's Bow River and skyline featuring Encana's newly constructed, soon-to-be headquarters
By banmichiganfracking, March 29, 2013
Information documents received by Ban Michigan Fracking on March 1 and 18 show Encana Oil and Gas USA is poised to establish a new national record for water usage on a horizontal frack pad, surpassing the record it set just last fall in Kalkaska County.
But at a videotaped March 5 webinar of the University of Michigan’s ongoing governor-approved fracking study, panelists showed little concern. ... more.
More fracking Wells Planned, EnCana’s Application Says It Will Need 300 Million Gallons Of Groundwater
“A small-sized municipality is going to use about 100 million gallons annually. It’s three times the quantity … it’s quite a substantial amount.”
By Glenn Puit, March 24, 2013, Record Eagle
Encana Oil & Gas’ new applications for fracking permits — and the amount of proposed groundwater — raised concerns among some local residents.
“It’s pretty astounding,” said Chris Grobbel, a Traverse City-based environmental consultant. “A small-sized municipality is going to use about 100 million gallons annually. It’s three times the quantity … it’s quite a substantial amount.”
… Paul Brady, 45, of Kalkaska County’s Bear Lake Township, closely monitors state filings and Encana’s publicly disclosed documents about its hydraulic fracturing wells. Three wells already drilled in a nearby township consumed 42 million gallons of water over a two-year period.
Brady contends Michigan Department of Environmental Quality officials don’t adequately regulate wells, given the large volumes of water used, and that public documents show Encana’s wells all fail a water withdrawal assessment measurement designed to protect the state’s water resources.
“It’s extremely irresponsible to allow the withdrawal of our groundwater at such a magnitude without any type of cumulative impact study being done,” Brady said.
Encana spokeswoman Bridget Ford said the company follows state regulations. The company has two years to drill wells once they obtain approval.
“The water withdrawals we initially applied for were based on the current data that we had,” Ford said. “Under the DEQ guidelines, we did request additional water once we obtained additional data about the lateral length of our wells. We were still within the guidelines of the (state’s) water assessment tool for each of the wells we’ve completed to date.”
DEQ officials said they closely regulate wells that use the fracking procedure.
“We are concerned with … any water use like that,” said Rick Henderson, a field operations supervisor for the DEQ’s Office of Oil, Gas and Minerals. “Under no circumstances are we going to allow an adverse resource impact.”
… The volume of water Encana is using prompts questions from some about the state’s regulatory system. James Olson, an environmental attorney in Traverse City, believes the assessment tool is flawed. Olson said water flow data on which it relies are overstated, withdrawal impacts are understated, and the state does not adequately consider the cumulative impact of multiple water withdrawals.
“If you read the fine print, the standard is you are allowed to take any amount of water out of a stream as long as it doesn’t kill more than 2 to 5 percent of the characteristic fish population,” Olson said. “You can do a lot of damage before you kill 2 to 5 percent of the fish population.” ... more.
By Tom Meyer, May 18, 2010, WKYC.com
Ohio - While state officials say a disaster like the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico couldn't happen in Ohio because operations here are a fraction of the size, a Channel 3 News investigation found that even smaller wells can lead to large problems.
They include explosions, water pollution and leaks that release hydrogen sulfide, a naturally occurring gas that can kill in concentrated doses.
Opponents said that's because gas and oil companies are able to drill wells 150 feet away from homes, businesses and even schools.
"Oil and gas drilling is an industrial function and where you drill in residential areas close to homes, you increase the risk of public safety," said state Sen. Tim Grendell (R-Geauga).
"It's just reckless to allow that to happen so close to people's homes."
The Ohio Oil and Gas Association declined to comment.
... Channel 3 News found a number of examples of drilling gone bad.
Two years ago, gas escaping from a poorly drilled well leaked into a Bainbridge house and exploded, knocking the home off the foundation as a family slept inside.
Even after that well was capped, gas was able to seep into a neighbor's home.
"We were out of state at the time," said Irving Mesmer. "A neighbor called and here my house was 100 percent full of gas. Every night you went to bed you don't know, you weren't sure, what was going to happen."
Just this month, hundreds of gallons of oil leaked from a well into a Pepper Pike stream, officials said. It took a week to clean up the incident.
James McCartney, who's drilled more than 1,000 wells, says gas spewed unabated from a Mentor well for more than a day. Luckily, he said it didn't ignite.
"They just let it blow for over a day before it gradually settled down," McCartney said. "You'd have got a big fire...I don't know how big, but it'd have been pretty big if they'd have lit it."
Then there was a release of hydrogen sulfide gas last September that happened while a crew was trying to cap an old well in Southeast Ohio.
The gas release killed one worker and stopped driller Aaron Dumolt's hearing for an hour. Dumolt spent three weeks in the hospital.
"The guy that got killed, I went in to get him out of it and that's when I got it," said Dumolt. "You can't really know what's going to happen because, I mean, anybody who works in the oil field knows you don't know everything."
Drillers are supposed to use a mix of fluids to keep hydrogen sulfide from escaping, said Simmers, the statewide enforcement manager.
But a Lake County Health Department investigation found a Concord boy was rushed to the emergency room with breathing difficulties after drillers hit a pocket of hydrogen sulfide and it drifted into his home.
The company was "dry drilling" (using air, not fluid) at the time, the report said.
Kari Matsko, who lives a few houses down, said no one notified her of the boy's illness or the drifting hydrogen sulfide gas ... read entire article.
Group also heads to Gov. Hickenlooper's office at State Capitol to ask for governor's support
'Instead of sifting through the thousands of signatures in an attempt to discredit them, Encana should be working to protect the children in Erie'
By John Aguilar, Camera Staff Writer, May 22, 2012, TimesCall.com
DENVER -- A small group of mothers and children from Erie marched into the building that houses Encana Corp.'s Denver headquarters Tuesday to present a petition signed by 21,000 people demanding that the energy giant forgo a planned natural gas drilling site near elementary schools and an adjoining neighborhood.
The intention of the group, known as Erie Rising, was to ask Encana USA President Jeff Wojahn face-to-face to abandon plans to extract gas at the Canyon Creek well site near Red Hawk Elementary and Erie Elementary schools.
But Encana spokeswoman Wendy Wiedenbeck told the group of 10 -- including children wearing "Don't Frack My School" T-shirts -- gathered inside the lobby of the Republic Plaza building on 17th Street that Wojahn was out of town. She said she would hand off the thick stack of signatures to the president when he returned.
Erie Rising then ventured over to the State Capitol to present a copy of the petition to Gov. John Hickenlooper but were told by an aide that he was not in either.
Preparation for drilling at the site, just north of Erie Parkway and west of County Line Road, is expected to begin later this week and drilling itself should begin sometime after June 4.
Jen Palazzolo, an Erie resident and one of the group's leaders, said despite the lack of any high-level encounters in Denver on Tuesday, the fight to derail drilling at the Canyon Creek site is far from over.
"We're not defeated yet -- even if they begin operations," she said outside the governor's office. "We're going to continue to ask them to abandon this site right up until they put the drill in the ground. It's a completely inappropriate industrial activity in a residential area."
But Wiedenbeck defended Encana as a "safe and responsible operator" that has been drilling in Erie without incident for six years. She said the company waited until school let out to begin its work at the site and is committed to adhering to larger setbacks than the 350 feet the state requires.
There has been no evidence, she said, that natural gas activity has any correlation to human health problems.
Wiedenbeck also pointed out that fewer than 1,200 of the 21,000 signatures submitted were from Colorado residents, and only 100 were from Erie.
"Erie Rising's approach has been based on fear rather than on fact," Wiedenbeck said.
But Wendy Leonard, who pushed her young children in a stroller in front of the Republic Plaza building, said the company's operations are much too close to where people live. The burden of proving that what it does is safe should rest with the industry, she said.
"Thirty thousand gallons of chemicals will be transported through an area where our kids are walking and bicycling," Leonard said. "There is not enough evidence that shows this is safe."
Of particular concern to Leonard and others who oppose drilling in residential areas are the emissions released and chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing -- or fracking -- during which a sand-water-chemical mixture is injected into the ground to loosen gas buried in subterranean rock. A congressional committee identified some fracking chemicals last year as being carcinogenic.
Erie Rising suspects that the emissions from active wells already operating in Erie, of which there are hundreds, have been causing health problems, including asthma, headaches and gastrointestinal distress. ... more.
The oil and gas corporation has set up drilling operations near local schools and daycare centers on the northern Front Range
By Troy Hooper , June 4, 2012, The Colorodo Independent
Editor’s note: This is the second in a multi-part series on hydraulic fracturing near schools. Read the first part here.
ERIE — With black whiskers painted across her cheeks, 6-year-old Olivia Cusimano roared into the plastic megaphone as if hers were the voice of the blue knotted-up balloon tiger she clutched beneath her left arm.
“Hey, hey! Ho, ho! These fracking wells have got to go!” she shouted as she led a parade of demonstrators through the streets on Saturday to protest Encana Corp.’s latest natural gas drilling project. The company has set up extraction operations in a prairie near two elementary schools, a middle school and a daycare.
“I think people will get hurt,” Cusimano said in an interview (mp3). “I don’t think it’s a good idea.”
Her concern stems from the rising tide of information scientists are publishing about the impacts of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The University of Colorado-Denver School of Public Health recently released a study showing people who reside within a half-mile of oil-and-gas drilling were exposed to air pollutants five times above federal hazard standards. The researchers concluded that people living closer to natural gas wells had a greater risk of developing cancer.
Some of Cusimano’s classmates stayed home from school last year with breathing and gastrointestinal problems their parents blame on pollutants from the hundreds of natural gas wells in the area.
Industry representatives maintain fracking is safe. They claim the protestors exaggerate.
... Last year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a study showing propane levels in Erie are 10 times higher than the nation’s recommended limits and above those in high-extraction areas like Pasadena, Calif., and Houston, Texas. Erie responded with a 180-day moratorium on new permits.
Before the temporary ban on new drilling took effect, Encana received permission to pump gas out of the Canyon Creek site, which has drawn the ire of residents already unsettled from the noise and increased truck activity in the neighborhood.
“Wake up neighbors! They are poisoning you!” one man yelled as scores of men, women and children winded through Erie’s streets, carrying signs reading: “Our Children Are Not Your Science Experiment,” “Don’t Frack With Our Kids” and “Safe Fracking Is a Pipe Dream.”
Lyzelle Roy, 4, sported a homemade T-shirt with drawings and a clear message: “Please Do Not Frack My School.”
The uproar stems from the proximity of Encana’s wells to schools in the area.
Red Hawk Elementary School, where Cusimano is in second-grade, lies a few hundreds yards from the Canyon Creek well site. Erie Elementary School, built in 1966, and Erie Middle School aren’t far away either. Encana officials point out that they waited until the school year finished before they began working at the site, where they recently constructed a large sound barrier.
Demonstrators said that, while school is out for the summer, a youth football program will be held on campus in August. Teenage boys will be huffing and puffing in the shadow of the drilling. ... more.
By Steve Stoler, January 13, 2010, WFAA-TV
FLOWER MOUND — Flower Mound parents whose children have leukemia worry that a state investigation into a possible "cancer cluster" may not be accurate.
The parents want to know whether there's a link between their kids' disease and natural gas drilling operations in the area.
The Texas Department of State Health Services will look at cancer statistics up until 2007, but many of the Flower Mound leukemia cases were diagnosed after that — including five-year-old Paige Boutilier, who learned she had the disease in 2008.
“When you get through the initial shock, you sit with the doctor for a few minutes and ask your initial questions like: 'Is she going to die?'” said Paige’s mother, Jody Boutilier.
The Boutilier family is the third to talk with News 8 this week.
Paige, six-year-old Faith Morrissey and four-year-old Meg Schmidt are among five children and two adults with leukemia in two Flower Mound zip codes.
... News 8 has learned that in addition to the seven patients already identified, there have been other Flower Mound families whose children have leukemia. They have also been in contact with the state health agency ... read entire article.
“We should think about looking carefully at toxic emissions in relation to effects.”
By Todd Unger, March 31, 2014, WFAA
FLOWER MOUND — Families with children who are battling cancer may be searching for even more answers after reading a just-published study from a researcher at the University of Texas at Austin.
Authored by Rachael Rawlins, the report concludes that there is a 95 percent likelihood that there were increased rates of leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in children in Flower Mound between 1997 and 2009.
The finding was only one in a larger conclusion that effectively said the state needs to revamp how it conducts public health studies. ”That really is important,” said Rawlins in a Skype interview with News 8. “We should think about looking carefully at toxic emissions in relation to effects.”
In 2010, News 8 profiled a number of Flower Mound families who had children suffering from cancer. Some were adamant that fracking operations in the area were at least partly to blame.
”You see the families at the clinic, and the similarities. They either lived by a drilling facility, or have it in their backyard,” said Sheri Schmidt in a 2010 interview. Of particular concern was the emission of benzene.
The city convinced state health officials to conduct a study, but the state’s analysis found the number of cancer cases among kids was not higher than in other parts of Texas.
Rawlins now says that finding was flawed. “They used a 99 percent confidence interval,” she said. “Scientific convention generally defines statistical significance using the 95 percent confidence interval.” ... more.
Bartonville council OKs moratorium on natural gas drilling, fracking
By Lowell Brown/Staff Writer, April 1, 2011, Denton Record-Chronicle
The Bartonville Town Council voted this week to impose a 90-day moratorium on new permits for natural gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing.
The council also agreed to form a seven-member advisory board on gas drilling and production, although no appointments were made.
Mayor Ron Robertson said the moratorium, passed 3-0 Wednesday night, would serve as a “cooling off period” as town leaders continue studying potential new regulations. He said council members are particularly concerned about chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a controversial practice that involves pumping millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals underground to break up rock and free gas.
... Moratorium supporters included the Argyle-Bartonville Communities Alliance, which has fought the placement of gas infrastructure near homes and schools over health and safety concerns. Alliance member Susan Knoll, a Bartonville resident, called the moratorium a step in the right direction.
“I think everything deserves to be looked at and re-looked at,” she said. “We should make it so that no one gets poisoned from gas drilling.”
... The board was meant to include two council members, two residents, two industry representatives and one state or federal regulator or other expert. So far, town leaders are having trouble finding residents to serve because some have pending lawsuits against the industry, Robertson said.
“It’s kind of hard to have them serve on a committee when they’re suing each other,” he said ...read entire article.
By Matt Peterson, February 10, 2012, Dallas News.com
The town of Flower Mound declared victory this week in its court battle to stop natural gas companies from building a pipeline in the middle of town and drilling closer to city property.
"It was a long battle," Flower Mound mayor Melissa Northern said, "but we won."
Mockingbird Pipeline and its parent company, Williams Energy, both dropped lawsuits against the town, and Mockingbird agreed to pay $55,000 to offset the town's legal costs.
Mockingbird filed its lawsuit in January 2010 after Flower Mound denied a request to build a 30-foot pipeline behind a fire station. The contested issue was whether gas pipeline companies could utilize eminent domain on public property.
"It was important because the Town resisted the effort to allow pipeline companies to condemn municipal property," ... more.
Press Release: Pittsburgh City Councilman Doug Shields to introduce CELDF-drafted Ordinance Banning Natural Gas Drilling
By Ben Price, Projects Director
August 17th, 2010
The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund
Pennsylvania Community Rights Network
P.O. Box 2016 Chambersburg, Pennsylvania 17201
Pittsburgh Council to Consider Banning Corporations from Drilling for Natural Gas in the City
“It’s about our authority as a community to decide,
not corporations deciding for us.” – Councilman Doug Shields
August 17, 2010
CONTACT: Ben Price, (717) 254-3233
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Tuesday, August 17, 2010- Pittsburgh, PA) At a City Hall press conference today, Councilman Doug Shields announced he will introduce a bill that would ban corporations from drilling for gas in the city of Pittsburgh. He said he will introduce the ordinance following Council’s current recess.
At the heart of “Pittsburgh’s Community Protection from Natural Gas Extraction Ordinance” is this statement of law: It shall be unlawful for any corporation to engage in the extraction of natural gas within the City of Pittsburgh.
Also included in the ordinance is a local “bill of rights” that asserts legal protections for the right to water, the rights of natural communities, the right to local self-government, and the right of the people to enforce and protect these rights through their municipal government.
The bill was drafted by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund at the invitation of Council members.
Commenting on his legislative proposal, Shields stated, “Many people think that this is only about gas drilling. It’s not – it’s about our authority as a municipal community to say “no” to corporations that will cause damage to our community. It’s about our right to community, local self-government.”
Shields urged all municipalities in the Commonwealth to enact similar laws “to send a message to Harrisburg,” and he insisted that a temporary moratorium “will not be an acceptable consolation prize for a failure of the State to recognize this local law and these fundamental rights.”
Energy corporations are setting up shop in communities throughout Pennsylvania, with plans to drill for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale formation. The frenzy of industrial gas extraction that once appeared to be confined to rural communities and state forest lands has taken residents of the city by surprise. Corporate “land men” have busily signed-up Pittsburgh property owners to contracts allowing wells to be erected on private property throughout the city. The prospect of paved-over green spaces, nights lit like airport runways, round-the-clock sounds of loud machinery, broken and pitted roads from the high volume truck traffic, and the threat of toxic trespass by a cocktail of patented chemicals and escaping methane into the ground water, has alarmed neighbors of lease-holders, and they’ve begun to organize in opposition to the proposed drilling.
Ben Price, Projects Director for the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, said he applauds the Council member for taking a stand on behalf of community rights. “Some will say it’s controversial, or that the city doesn’t have the authority to ban gas drilling. The only way that’s true is if the State has the authority to strip the residents of the city of their rights, and it doesn’t.”
Price commented that “we don’t have a gas drilling problem. What we have is a democracy problem. We need to stop treating the environmental symptoms and cure the societal disease that’s brought fracking to our doorstep. The State says we don’t have the right to decide whether or not we get fracked and that only the corporate-lobbied members of the General Assembly have the wisdom to decide how much harm should be legalized through state-issued permits. There’s something sick about that kind of thinking. If we cure the systemic anti-democratic disorder manifested by our state’s refusal to recognize the right to local, community self-government, gas drilling without consent of the governed will go away.”
The gas extraction technique known as “fracking” has been cited as a threat to surface and ground water throughout the region, and has been blamed for fatal explosions, the contamination of drinking water, local streams, the air and soil. Collateral damage includes lost property value, ingestion of toxins by livestock, drying up of mortgage loans for prospective home buyers, and threatened loss of organic certification for farmers in the affected communities.
The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, located in Chambersburg, has been working with people in Pennsylvania since 1995 to assert their fundamental rights to democratic local self-governance, and to enact laws which end destructive and rights-denying corporate action aided and abetted by state and federal governments.
Keep updated with our work on Facebook.
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March 23, 2012, Lethbridge Herald
City council could go on record in opposition to "fracking" initiatives in southern Alberta. But not until its environment committee has time to look at both sides of the question, council has decided.
The issue was referred to the committee's April meeting, after a brief presentation this week on behalf of the Lethbridge chapter of the Council of Canadians. Spokeswoman Sheila Rogers outlined concerns voiced by a number of local groups, including its impact on the city's drinking water.
While it's effective in extracting oil and natural gas found deep below shale rock formations, Rogers said little is known about its long-term impacts.
Noting its use in a growing number of exploratory operations near Lethbridge, she said the coalition of concerned groups is hoping city council and town councils in surrounding communities will urge the provincial government to call a halt on further fracking until research can prove or disprove their many environmental concerns.
Councillor Jeff Carlson, who chairs council's environment committee, said it could contact other authorities across Alberta to see what information they have on the matter. It could also hear from industry officials, council members pointed out.
'I would rather be sued than poisoned.'
By Martin Salazar, March 29, 2012, Las Vegas Optic
And while a number of municipalities around the nation, including Pittsburgh, have already adopted similar laws, no community in the state has passed such an ordinance, giving Las Vegas the opportunity to make history in New Mexico.
The ordinance seeks to elevate the civil rights of the community and of its natural resources while limiting the rights currently enjoyed by corporations.
Opponents of the proposed ordinance, however, say it’s flat- out illegal, that it violates the state and United States constitutions and that, if approved, it will open the city and its citizens up to tremendous legal liability and potentially leave Las Vegas on the hook for untold sums in damages.
Dubbed the Las Vegas Community Bill of Rights and Local Self-Government Ordinance, the proposed law might also violate the city charter because while it would take only a majority vote of the governing body to enact it, repealing the law would require a unanimous City Council vote and a ballot measure in which two-thirds of voters agree to scrap the law.
... “There may be lawsuits, but that’s what attorneys are for,” Miguel Pacheco, one of the leading activists pushing for the ordinance told the governing body during last week’s council meeting. “If we don’t stand up for our rights, they’re gone.”
So far the pressure appears to be working.
Despite requests from the city administration that the process be slowed down to ensure that the city ends up with a viable ordinance, the council voted unanimously last week to force an up or down vote on the measure within two weeks.
Mayor Ortiz, meanwhile, appears stuck in the middle, saying he, too, is against hydraulic fracturing or fracking, a process whereby a large amount of pressurized water with toxic chemicals is injected into wells and bores to crack rock and free the gas.
Activists argue that the practice has devastated water supplies in some communities.
Ortiz says contamination of any source of water can’t be tolerated.
But he tempers his opposition to fracking by saying that it’s important for the community to understand what it would be getting into if the ordinance is enacted. While there’s no end to the pockets of the oil and gas companies that would likely be the ones to challenge the ordinance, there is an end to the city’s resources, he said.
“I want to make sure that if we’re sued and we lose, that we’re prepared to pay the fine,” Ortiz said.
The proposed ordinance makes it unlawful for any corporation to engage in the extraction of oil, natural gas, or other hydrocarbons within the city of Las Vegas and its watersheds.
But it also contains a number of ground-breaking provisions.
• It holds that wetlands, streams, aquifers and other water systems possess inalienable and fundamental rights to exist and flourish within the city.
• It attempts to strip corporations that violate the ordinance or that are trying to engage in activities prohibited by the ordinance of “the rights of persons afforded by the United States and New Mexico Constitutions.”
• It tries to to strip those same corporations of rights afforded to them under the commerce or contracts clauses of the U.S. Constitution and corresponding sections of the state constitution.
• It states that individuals or corporations violating the ordinance or trying to engage in activities prohibited by the ordinance can’t enforce state or federal preemptive law against the people of Las Vegas or to challenge the ordinance. Preemptive law refers to the doctrine that federal and state laws trump municipal laws when there is a conflict.
The bold provisions contained in the proposed law might lead some to believe that it is nothing more than a symbolic gesture; however, people on both sides of the issue say that’s not the case.
“This is an enforceable ordinance. It bans fracking legally,” says Lee Einer, a vocal supporter of the ordinance.
... Repeal standard set high
Einer argues that requiring a unanimous vote of the council and a two-thirds majority from voters in order to repeal the ordinance is a good idea given the extensive resources of oil and gas companies.
When a small, rural community goes up against one of the world’s biggest corporations, the corporation has unlimited resources to hire attorneys and buy advertising, giving it the ability to apply daunting pressure to city officials, he said. That’s why the standard for repeal was set so high, he said.
As for the possibility that the ordinance, if enacted, could lead to a lawsuit, Einer says, “I would rather be sued than poisoned.”
Besides, he said, even if the ordinance is struck down, the city will be protected until that point.
“Slavery once was legal”
Kathleen Dudley, who has been fighting oil and gas drilling in Mora County for years, told the City Council last week that at one point, slavery was legal and it was unlawful for women to vote. Both were in the constitution, and both practices were eventually overturned when the people rose up.
Local activist Pat Leahan noted that the city shouldn’t succumb to the power of the oil industry.
She said that if the city of Las Vegas were to become the first community in the nation to go bankrupt because of a lawsuit by the oil and gas industry, other communities would come to the city’s defense and help it out.
“Mother Nature is not asking you to slow down,” she told the council. “She’s asking you to hurry up.” ... read entire article.
Earlier this week, Burnaby city council passed a resolution to call for a moratorium on fracking.
By Maryam Adrangi, February 22, 2013, rabble.ca
The city itself is not threatened by hydraulic fracturing; however, it has "from time to time advocated on environmental matters which have provincial or national significance." This is the first city in B.C. to pass such a resolution. The full resolution can be found here.
In fact, the motion is clearly a step to bring this to more municipalities and encourage them to do the same. The motion states that "with Council adoption, the resolution could be advanced for consideration in the UBCM and FCM resolutions process at upcoming annual conventions."
The province of B.C. has banned fracking in the Sacred Headwaters; however, fracking still continues in northeastern B.C. Much of the fracked gas is transported to Alberta to fuel tar sands extraction projects, and Chevron and Apache are currently looking to export some of this fracked gas by means of the Pacific Trails Pipeline (PTP). ... more.
They're bringing jobs all right ... There's going to be a lot of jobs for funeral homes and hospitals. That's where the jobs are. Is it worth it?
(CBS/AP), December 8, 2010
Pittsburgh became the first city in gas-rich Pennsylvania to ban natural gas drilling after city council members, citing health and environmental concerns, unanimously approved the measure Tuesday.
The council received a standing ovation after voting 9-0 to approve the ban within city limits.
Pittsburgh sits atop part of the Marcellus Shale, a large rock formation in West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. Drilling companies have been flocking to those states to tap into the vast natural gas reserves underneath.
The companies use what's called fracking to break up the rock; opponents say the chemicals used in the process can contaminate water and air.
City Council President Darlene Harris said her biggest concern was people's health. She said she had heard stories about people being sickened by water contaminated by Marcellus drilling. She said claims by the industry of the thousands of jobs being created wasn't worth the risk.
"They're bringing jobs all right," Harris said. "There's going to be a lot of jobs for funeral homes and hospitals. That's where the jobs are. Is it worth it?"
... Before the vote, City Councilman Doug Shields, the bill's sponsor, talked about what he called the "arrogance of this industry" that he said puts money ahead of trying to figure out the health, environmental and municipal effects of drilling.
"This is an important statement being made today, and it's not just the city of Pittsburgh," he said. "People are looking to this council and I think they are seeing something extraordinary here in that regard."
The ban comes a day after the Pittsburgh suburb of South Fayette approved a zoning ordinance that would prevent drilling in residential and conservation areas ... read entire article.
September 14, 2012, Democracy Now.org
In 2010, Pittsburgh adopted a first-in-the-nation ordinance banning corporations from extracting natural gas within the city using the controversial technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," over human health and environmental concerns. However, state officials now say the ban on fracking fails to comply with Pennsylvania law and has encroached on the state’s authority to create environmental regulations. We speak with the man responsible for the drilling ban, former Pittsburgh City Councilmember Doug Shields.
Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.
~Winston S. Churchill