The Daily Scoop: What the Frack is in That Water?


Environmentalists have repeatedly pressed regulators to compel oil and gas companies to report what chemicals they use in the drilling and fracking process. Drilling companies add these chemicals to perform particular functions (for example, to prevent corrosion or give the fluid the right consistency), or leave them in because they’re too expensive to remove. According to a 2011 congressional report, many of the chemicals used can pose a serious health risk. No one knows the exact makeup of the frack mixture, drilling muds and other stuff used at well sites (which change from well to well), but this list breaks down the main ingredients revealed so far. Click on the chemical name for more detailed information.
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12 Comments to “The Daily Scoop: What the Frack is in That Water?”

  1. I find it amazing that they get away with this. I mean it is one thing when you simply say there are “bad things” in the water, and a whole other when you have reams of footage showing sludgy water being lit on fire coming out of faucets.

  2. This is going to be like a whole lot of other incidents where people got sick and then, Surprise!, it is that factory, or mine, or waste dump that is toxic and making you sick. Is the oil really worth it?

    • I think that’s a good question. Is it worht it? It seems there is ever-increasing complexity, difficulty and risk associated with getting to these new sources. So is it worth putting all that money and effort into such limited resources instead of putting our energy into the development of renewables that do not have these inherent risks?

  3. Our community is investigating and contemplating the tracking process for natural gas at this very moment. Thanks for the post.

  4. I apologise in advance but, this is something you will know (but other readers may not know) that I feel very strongly about:

    With regard to fracking and/or all forms of unconventional fossil fuel exploration and or use, I am not completely convinced by the arguments that it is dangerous in and of itself but, what I am convinced of – because James Hansen (i.e. as in his book Storms of my Grandchildren) is convinced of it – is that if we proceed to burn all the Earth’s fossil fuels just because we can – runaway greenhouse effect is a “dead certainty” (i.e. Hansen’s phrase). He then predicts an ice-free planet within 200 years and a waterless planet in 500 years. [Alternatively, if Developed countries leave all their coal and unconventional fossil fuel in the ground we may get away with just causing the Earth to become ice-free 200-300 years]

    Before anyone writes Hansen off as a nut-case, they should remember that he spent the first 10 years of his career working for NASA on the Pioneer mission to Venus, then, before the probe had even reached the planet, he walked away from that mission to focus on the Earth. This was because he became convinced that what had happened to Venus (surface temp and pressure 90 times that on Earth) could happen here too.

    It took him until 1988 to be certain but, unfortunately, ever since he went public with his opinion that human attribution for climate change had been identified (i.e. the Earth is warming and excess CO2 in the atmosphere is the main cause), the “fossil fuel lobby” has spent the last 24 years trying to tell everybody the science is uncertain and that there is no cause for alarm. (Just as similar vested interests spent decades telling us all smoking was not dangerous, organic chemicals are not toxic, CFC’s don’t damage the ozone layer, and acid rain isn’t killing trees).

    It’s an absolute disgrace but, if we humans trash the planet it will be because of these “Merchants of Doubt” (as in the book by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway). Now that I understand all this and – as of 22 February 2012 – I believe I now have the evidence to take down one of the key players in the field of climate change denial, I believe it would be a gross dereliction of duty for me not to do everything I can to see that his reputation is trashed once-and-for-all. I just hope it is enough to trigger the collapse of the entire house of cards (i.e. the phoney science that these people just don’t seem to be able to stop peddling [no matter how many times it is debunked by the genuine experts]).

  5. And my homestate has passed this fightening bit of legislation give what I consider carte blanche to the gas companies to despoil

    http://www.alternet.org/fracking/154459/fracking_democracy%3A_why_pennsylvania%27s_act_13_may_be_the_nation%27s_worst_corporate_giveaway_

  6. If you think Fracking is a worry, just wait until you’ve watched Part 4 of National Geographic’s Strange Days on Planet Earth that will really freak you out (the other 3 54-minute episodes are all worth watching too)

    Atrazine turning male frogs into hermaphrodites, beluga whale carcasses being classified as HazWaste, miscarriages up and male fertility down due to pesticides in water and on food, mercury bioaccumulating in fish, nitrogen killing coral reefs….

    We really have f*cked up the planet good and proper.

    • Martin,

      Thanks for the video. I will definitely find some time to sit and watch the whole thing. All this is incredibly interesting and disturbing. How can we let things deteriorate so much? I am familiar with some of these, the male frogs, impacts from pesticides, mercury in the fisheries and the St. Lawrence River belugas (part of master’s thesis research on Cook Inlet, Alaska beluga).

      I recommend other readers watch the video… I’m sure everyone will take away something new from it.

      • Oh, wow – that is interesting! I would be particularly interested to know what you make of it (the Beluga whales mentioned in this programme are those in the St Lawrence River of Quebec/New Brunswick). I was aware of all these issues as potential problems… but the programme brings them all into sharp focus.

        Meanwhile, for those who have not the time or patience to sit down and take four hours to watch all four programmes, you could always just review the comments made on them, on the Learning from Dogs blog of ex-Pat Paul Handover (now resident in Arizona), starting here

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