Petroleum services giant Halliburton Co is beginning to publicly disclosie the identity of chemicals in solutions it makes to hydrofrack the shale in the controversial Marellus Shale Natural Gas boom in PA, NY, VA and OH.
Halliburton does not relase the details of how much or where, nor does it reveal the exact concentration of each chemical in an overall solution. In general, water makes up the lion’s share. Sand comprises about 6 percent while chemical cocktails amount to less than 2 percent.
Many of the chemicals, including hydrolic acid, mentanol and acetic acid are toxic in high enough doses, and appear in everyday household and industral solvents, cleaners and adhesives. One chemical, formaldehyde, is classified as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.”
Last week, the Federa Environmental Protectionn Agency issued a subpoena to Halliburton, seeking a description of the chemical components used in its hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, solutions that are used to break up the shale and release the natural gas deposits.. The EPA said Halliburton refused to voluntarily disclose the chemicals, while eight other major energy companies complied. Halliburton responded that it has worked to supply the EPA with the information it wants.
State and Federal regulators are seeking disclosure of the chemicals, particularly in the northeastern United States where the use of fracking – in which millions of gallons of water, sand and toxic chemicals are injected into each well at high pressure to break apart the shale and release trapped gas – is raising pollution concerns
While the industry maintains that fracking has proven to be safe over the decades, homeowners are coming forward with tales of drinking-water wells producing brown, foul-smelling water or water polluted with methane and chemicals.
Drilling-services companies have largely sought to protect their chemical formulas, calling them proprietary.
New York and Pennsylvania state regulations, that could be finalized later this year, would require disclosure.
The Marcellus Shale lies largely beneath Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia and Ohio. Currently Pennsylvania is the center of activity, with more than 2,000 wells drilled in the past three years and many thousands more planned, as multinational exploration companies invest billions in the pursuit.
Combining a new process of horizontal drilling with fracking, drillers are mining vast deposits of gas in shale and other impermeable formations around the U.S. – a boom that could ensure cheap and plentiful natural gas for many years to come for homeowners, factories and power plants.
Hydraulic fracturing was first used commercially in 1949 by Halliburton.
While states can regulate drilling, a provision in the 2005 federal energy law passed by Congress prevents the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from regulating fracking. The exemption is commonly called the “Halliburton loophole,” a reference to the company’s pioneering role in fracking and the high-profile role of former Vice President Dick Cheney, a one-time Halliburton CEO, in convening an energy task force that had urged the exemption.
A year ago, Congress ordered the EPA to study potential human health and water quality threats from fracking. Initial results are expected in 2012.
Kellie M. Place “The Land Expert”
“Upstate New York’s Real Estate Development Expert”
Century 21 Chesser Realty