Fracking wastewater spill in north dakota

The North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) has revealed that a spill of fracking wastewater, otherwise known as brine, has been released been notified of a
produced water (brine) release in Renville County approximately 5 miles southeast of Tolley.

Renville County, North Dakota
Renville County, North Dakota

The fracking company responsible, Enduro Operating, has reported that 25 barrels of oil and 820 barrels of brine were released –  70 barrels of which left the oil well location, whilst the remaining released 750 barrels contained on site.

The view the North Dakota press release in full, click here.

Taxpayers to pay for fracking pollution

The Guardian news paper has just revealed that in the event that fracking companies go bankrupt, the costs incurred for pollution to the environment will be burdened onto the UK taxpayer.

Cuadrilla shale gas drilling rig is set up for 'fracking', Weeton, Blackpool, Lancashire, in March 2012. Photograph: Alamy
Cuadrilla shale gas drilling rig is set up for ‘fracking’, Weeton, Blackpool, Lancashire, in March 2012. (Image source: alamy)

Normally, fracking companies would take out a bond as an insurance policy in the event of environmental pollution. However the need for bonds has been rejected by Minister of the Environment Dan Rogerson, who stated:

“We believe that the existing regulatory framework is fit for purpose for the exploration and exploitation of onshore oil and gas activities. There are a great number of checks and controls available to us to ensure that operators comply with the requirements of their permits and deal with the wider pollution risks without adding to existing regulation.”

To read the guardian article in full, click here.

Perspective: living beside a fracking site

The Guardian have recorded a short documentary showcasing a families that live within a mile beside unconventional hydraulic fracturing wells. Their first-hand account of the individuals involve reveal a great sense of insecurity as they were forced to come to terms with sickness, flaring, light pollution, trucks, air and water pollution, explosions, fires mistrust and more.

Veronica Kornvall, as featured in the documentary short
Veronica Kornvall, as featured in the documentary short

To view the informative and eye opening video short, click here.

XTO Energy fined $5.3million

On 22nd December 2014, XTO Energy, a subsidiary of ExxonMobil and the U.S’s largest natural gas company, has been fined by the US EPA $2.3 million for Clean Water Act violations related to its unconventional shale gas extraction activities in West Virginia. The US EPA fined XTO a further $3 million for restoration costs, bringing the final total charged to XTO, to $5.3 million. There is a very good reason why we say XTO have been fined the $5.3 million for unconventional shale gas extraction activities, and not fracking activities.

Due to the Bush-era legislation known as the Halliburton Loophole, fracking companies are seldom held accountable by federal agencies when it comes to water pollution, as the Halliburton Loophole legally exempts the fracking process from the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Clean Water Act. As a result, the US EPA are rendered impotent when it comes to regulating the actual fracking process and the chemicals used for injection into the ground.

However, what the US EPA have done, is fined XTO for environmental violations that exist outside the fracking process and the Halliburton loophole, in particular, violations committed by XTO which included the dumping of sand, dirt, rocks and other toxic fill materials into local streams and wetlands within the state of West Virginia, without a permit. It is these charges which are in violation of the Clean Water Act.

In total, XTO committed unauthorised discharges of dredged materials at eight sites across West Virginia, within Harrisburg, Marion and Upshur counties and the discharges are associated not with the hydraulic fracturing process (aka fracking), rather to related construction processes of well pads, freshwater pits, access roads, a pipeline, a compressor station pad.

XTO Activities and Operations in West Virginia, including Harrison, Marion and Usphur Counties which were included in the $5.3million settlement by the USEPA.
XTO Activities and Operations in West Virginia, including Harrison, Marion and Usphur Counties which were included in the $5.3million settlement by the USEPA.

And it is these environmental violations which have polluted approximately 5,300 linear feet of water streams and 3.4 acres of wetlands in West Virginia.

To view the US EPA settlement against XTO Energy in full, click here.

Previously, XTO Energy were charged with in early January 2014 for expelling tens of thousands of gallons of hydraulic fracturing waste water at a Pennsylvania drilling site in 2010.

Concerned health professionals of New York release fracking compendium

The Concerned Health Professionals of New York just released a compendium that compiles a significant body of scientific, medical and journalistic findings that highlight the experienced health risks associated with the process of Unconventional Shale Gas Extraction.

CHPNY

One of the most thorough reports of its kind, the compendium draws upon scientific evidence and experience from across the globe, including USA, Canada and Australia, where Unconventional Shale Gas Extraction has been most predominant, drawing upon information provided by medical journals such as The Lancet, the British Medical Journal and the Medical Journal of Australia.

Topics covered by the compendium include:

  • Air Contamination
  • Water Contamination
  • Engineering Problems
  • Radioactive releases
  • Occupational Health and Safety Hazards
  • Noise pollution, light pollution and stress
  • Earthquakes and Seismic Activity
  • Abandoned wells
  • Flood risks
  • Threats to Agriculture and soil quality
  • Threats to the Climate
  • Inaccurate job claims, increased crime
  • Inflated oil and gas reserves
  • Medical and scientific calls for more study

A compilation of studies and findings from around the globe, the compendium provides irrefutable evidence of the risks, harms, and associated negative trends demonstrated by the process of Unconventional Shale Gas Extraction, a process earmarked for County Fermanagh.

To read the compendium in full, click here.

Fracking wastewater dumped in manchester canal

MP Kate Green has demanded to know why fracking waste water was dumped in Manchester Canal.
Her press release states:

“Kate has demanded answers on how waste water from fracking was dumped into the Manchester Ship Canal.
A BBC Inside Out programme, shown on Monday 27th January, reported that that radioactive water from Cuadrilla’s fracking operations was handled at United Utilities treatment works in Davyhulme and, after treatment, released into the Manchester Ship Canal.
A Freedom of Information request has found that, before October 2011, waste water from fracking was treated at Davyhulme.
This was before the Environment Agency told Cuadrilla that, because of changes to rules on the levels of radioactivity in the waste water that would be permitted, they required a permit to continue to take the excess water produced from fracking to a waste water treatment works.
Last autumn United Utilities told Kate that none of their treatment sites were named in any permit applications to the Environment Agency to transport and treat fracking flowback waste water.

Kate has now written to the Chief Executive at United Utilities to ask how much radioactive waste water from fracking was treated at Davyhulme before the regulations changed, and how much waste was released into the Manchester Ship Canal or elsewhere.
Kate said, “I am extremely concerned that radioactive waste water has been released into our local waterways.Local residents are rightly worried, which is why I have written to the Chief Executive of United Utilities to ask for a full explanation of their involvement with waste water from fracking. Full and open disclosure from Cuadrilla and United Utilities is essential so that we can get to the bottom of why this has happened.
The technology around fracking remains unproved, and it shouldn’t be going ahead when serious question marks exist around its safety and environmental impact.”

Westminster told that fracking does not contaminate ground water

Just over a week ago, Michael Fallon MP, the Minister of State for Business and the Minister of State for Energy, previously the Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party, stated within the house of commons that in the USA, there have been no examples of hydraulic fracturing contaminating ground water.

The statement has been contested my many environmental groups as false, including the Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network.

Conservative MP Michael Fallon arrives at Downing Street

There are many examples of water contamination as a result of hydraulic fracturing, in particular Carrizo, a company who last week were fined near 200,000 US Dollars for a well control incident that occurred during the hydraulic fracturing of a well, an event that released 200,000 gallons of toxic fluid into local environment.

Further to that, there was also a hydraulic fracturing well blow out that release toxic drilling fluids into local waterways, and the now famous 3 million dollar lawsuit that was awarded to the Parr family, who had suffered as a result of their air and water being contaminated by the over all process of unconventional shale gas extraction.

Not to mention peer reviewed science provided by a 2011 study in northeastern Pennsylvania by Osborne et al that found that concentrations of methane gas increased with proximity to gas wells undergoing high volume hydraulic fracturing.

The questions and answers from the House of Commons is laid out below:

Debate on shale gas in the House of Commons
19/6/14
Priti Patel (Witham, Conservative)
What recent estimate has he [the Energy Minister] made of the value to the UK economy of the shale gas sector.

Michael Fallon (The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change; Sevenoaks, Conservative)
The Government are promoting responsible shale development for greater energy security, to deliver jobs and growth and to support investment. The recent EY report estimates that there could be £33 billion-worth of spend on shale gas exploration creating about 64,000 jobs, including over £20 billion on hydraulic fracturing and £8 billion on drilling and completion of the wells. That is why we are supporting exploration to understand just how much of this potential can be realised.

Priti Patel
I thank the Minister for his response. Given the enormous projected value of the shale gas sector and the opportunity shale provides for energy independence, do the Government have plans to support more investment in shale gas infrastructure?

Michael Fallon
Yes, we have set out the new fiscal regime that will apply to shale exploration. We have a system of robust regulation in place. There are some dozen companies now exploring, and I shall shortly be inviting applications for new onshore licences under the 14th licensing round, which will afford more opportunities for new companies to enter this market, and I know colleagues across the House will want to champion applications for licences in their area.

Tom Greatrex (Shadow Energy Minister; Rutherglen and Hamilton West, Labour)
The Minister in his reply referred to robust regulation, and he is right that robust regulation is important, as is comprehensive monitoring of those regulations to meet the higher public acceptability test for this technology. Given that groundwater can contain methane naturally, will the Minister explain why it is that, more than two and half years after the issue being raised with his predecessors, it is still the case that the regulations do not include the baseline monitoring of methane in groundwater, especially as there are concerns about such contamination in the US and elsewhere? Surely it is important that we have that as part of the regulation to ensure confidence in the regulatory regime for shale gas.

Michael Fallon
There are no examples from the United States of hydraulic fracturing contaminating groundwater because, as the hon. Gentleman will appreciate, the fracturing takes place verymuch deeper than any groundwater levels. I am happy to look at the specific point that he mentions about baseline monitoring.

For a copy of the House of Commons exchange, please click here.

DEP fines Carrizo $192,044 for fracking offences

On the 18th June, 2014, the Department of Environmental Protection fined Carrizo subsidiary for two 2013 offences related to unconventional shale gas extraction practices.

The first was a well control incident in March 2013, which led to 200,000 gallons of fracking waste water into local environment, an incident which led to the evacuation of three families from their homes.

The second incident which took place from a separate pad, occurred month later in April 2013 when 9240 gallons of produced water was released into local environment.

The $192,044 fine covers both 2013 offences.

CARRIZO

“These were serious incidents that resulted in environmental degradation and the evacuation of citizens from their homes,” DEP Director of District Oil and Gas Operations John Ryder said. “The department has been working closely with Carrizo during the past year to ensure the company implements changes that will greatly minimize a recurrence of these incidents.”

The first accident, the well control incident, came during the fracking of a well in Washington Township, when production fluid began escaping from the gas well because of a technical defect.

In response to the leak, which bled around 800 gallons of fluid per hour, Carrizo implemented a temporary containment system for the escaping fluid. They removed escaped fluid with vacuum trucks and commissioned a control specialist to respond to the site. The company recovered 5,400 gallons of production fluid from the well. With Carrizo having release 200,000 gallons in total, a recovery of 5,400 gallons equates to a recovery yield of only 2.7%.

However, due to the toxicity of the chemical that were released from the damaged well, Carrizo was forced to issue evacuation notices to four local households, which lead to three families in the area being evacuated in anticipation of natural gas being released from the well as the accident was brought under control. In response to the accident, the company implemented several staffing and technical improvements, including the hiring of a worker to monitor for leaks during the actual fracking process.

The second accident, occurred when a hose transferring fracking fluid into a tank became unsecure and released about 9,200 gallons of the material off the well pad, as a result of Carrizo employees who had not followed proper procedure in transferring the fluid.

The fluid migrated through the stone foundation of a nearby residence and leaked into a basement garage, and also traveled across the road into a field housing livestock.

The DEP stated in a press release that:

“DEP’s Oil and Gas Program staff requested Carrizo to sample potentially impacted residential and agricultural water supplies, and provide potable drinking water to them, which Carrizo did. The company also implemented a number of remediation measures in a timely manner.

The department issued a notice of violation letter to Carrizo on May 7, 2013 for violations of the Clean Streams Law, Solid Waste Management Act, and Chapter 78 oil and gas regulations. The letter also required that a sampling plan, engineering study and fluid handling analysis be submitted.

Carrizo’s response indicated that personnel conducting the fluid transfer operation failed to follow proper procedure.

DEP’s Environmental Cleanup and Brownfields program is overseeing the remediation at both well pads. Contaminated soil has been excavated and properly disposed, while periodic groundwater sampling by Carrizo continues.”

Fracking rig blowout in morgan county, ohio

NBC4 have reported a blowout of a shale well that not only forced residents to move from their homes, but the 184 barrels of drilling mud that was lost, made its way into local waterways.

NBC4 reported: The drilling operation has been stopped dead in its tracks, as dozens of people from several federal, state and private organizations clean and remove the drilling fluids.

MORGAN

The US Environmental Protection Agency said in a pollution report, “a pocket of unexpected natural gas was encountered during the drilling leading to over-pressurization of the casing leading to the failure of the well head and release. Natural gas was also released causing an explosive atmosphere leading to dangerous working conditions and the evacuation of 7 residents from 3 homes adjacent to the site.”

NBC4 checked with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources who approve, permit and inspect all gas and oil drilling throughout the state. A little digging shows ODNR rules require a blowout preventer on oil and gas wells, which might have prevented the blowout and a containment pad big enough to hold a large spill.

To read the NBC4 article in full, click here.

‘Lancet’ medical journal raises detrimental health implications of fracking

One of the world’s oldest and best known peer-reviewed medical journal, The Lancet, released a paper highlighting the realised risks that unconventional shale gas extraction poses to public human health.

lancet

The Lancet states that despite scientific study of the health effects of fracking being in its infancy, “findings suggest that this form of extraction might increase health risks compared with conventional oil and gas extraction [due to] larger surface footprints of fracking sites; their close proximity to locations where people live, work and play; and the need to transport and store large volumes of materials.”

The article further states that investigation into unconventional shale gas extraction in the USA has shown that, “risks of environmental contamination occur at all stages in the development of shale gas extraction.”

Problems with the structural integrity of the process, which is planned for county Fermanagh include: failure of well cement and casing, surface spills and leakage from above ground storage, gas emissions from gas processing equipment, and the large number of transport vehicles involved with transporting large volumes of chemicals.

The article draws attention and concern to detrimental health effects locally and globally. Locally, environmental contaminants such as volatile organic compounds, tropospheric ozone, diesel particulate matter, benzene, hydrocarbons, endocrine disrupting chemicals and heavy metals.

Source: aljazeera.com
The practice of unconventional shale gas extraction, otherwise known as fracking, has drawn criticism as a result of the negative impacts on human health and the environment. (Image source: aljazeera.com)

Globally, environmental threats to public health is the “contribution of shale gas extraction to green house gas emissions, and thus, climate change.”

In conclusion, the Lancet have recommended the implementation of Health Impact Assessments (HIA) that take into consideration not only public health risks during development of unconventional shale gas extraction, but the legacy left for public health over the long term also.

If you wish to read the peer reviewed article titled, “The health implications of fracking”, click here.