Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Gas and water

Relatives of Mrs G informed us the other day that they signed a 5 year lease with a company to drill for natural gas on their land in Wyoming County for the tidy sum of $125,000 and the promise of royalties down the line. They didn't want to hear my objections to that decision even when I pointed out that they live off well water that may become polluted. They just saw dollar signs.

To drill just one well requires 1 to 5 million gallons of fresh water that is treated with all sorts of chemicals and most of it remains in the ground that that may leech into the aquifer. The water that rises to the surface is held in man made ponds lined with plastic and containment barriers that have failed and spilled into local streams and rivers killing fish and polluting drinking water.

Now various companies are proposing to build treatment plants so the water from the extraction can be discharged into the Susquehanna River and other waterways. The first problem with that is that companies doing the drilling won't disclose what chemicals they are using claiming it's "propriety information."

Near Tunkhannock North Branch Processing LLC hopes to build a plant near Skyhaven Airport to clean the “frac” water and discharge it into the river. The locals aren't thrilled with the idea, “If they’re going to discharge it into the Susquehanna River, which people fish in, which people play in, it should be clean enough to drink,” said George Turner, a local geologist with experience handling contaminated water. “If they can’t clean it up that much, then reuse it as frac water.”

Another plant is in the works near Williamsport to be built by TerrAqua Resource Management. Kayak Dude spoke out at the DEP permit hearing. Don Williams of Harleysville said allowing the gas industry to gain a foothold in the state would set back environmental improvement efforts decades. Williams compared "the Marcellus Shale frenzy" to making a pact with the devil.
"We are once again striking a Faustian bargain at the expense of our natural resources, degrading the quality of our land and our waters in exchange for the false promises of jobs and the fleeting economic prosperity for a limited few," he said.
"I am fully opposed to the further degradation of the Susquehanna River ... and I am respectfully requesting this application be denied," Williams said.
Williams added that until the gas industry provides full disclosure of all chemicals used in the hydrofracturing process, action on all gas drilling wastewater treatment plant applications be suspended.

Don's complete testimony is here . is a New York state site about Marcellus Shale that has a great primer on all the issues involved, take a few minutes and read it.

This post about living next door to gas drilling activity documents the impact on your quality of life even if you don't allow drilling on your land but your neighbor does.


Pope George Ringo I said...

Seems like a lot of NEPA citizens are under the impression that they are going to be the next JR Ewing. Greed, once again, has overtaken the public good.

D.B. Echo said...

I heard the other day that the new state budget cuts DEP funding by 25%. That either means we can kiss enforcement goodbye, or we can expect DEP to put all of its efforts into generating revenue through fines.

I haven't seen all of "There Will Be Blood", but I have a feeling it may be relevant to the Marcellus Shale situation. I hope Mrs. G's relatives don't wind up getting bludgeoned with a bowling pin.

Don Williams said...

The one photo on the last link pretty much sums it up; wizzing on our woods, showing no respect for private property, etc. It's a classic! Thanks, Gort.

Big Dan said...

Public vs. corporations...same old story, same old outcome.

Don Williams said...

Big Dan:

If your pockets were as deep as the oil company's, i.e. all you had to do 24/7 was fight them, what would you do?


Kayak Dude

Anonymous said...

I don't want to sound like a gas company apologist but there are some facts that should be cleared up. First, the chemicals used in the fracking process are required to be disclosed to DEP and they are available for anyone to see. It is the mixture that is proprietary. Also, it is virtually impossible for the water used to frac to make it back into the aquifer, it's 6k feet below the end of the aquifer that ends at about 500 feet. Besides the rock is so dense they have to frac it to get the gas to migrate, how is water supposed to get through. More importantly even if it did there would be little difference in the frac water vs. naturally occurring water coming through the formation. They would both have a high salt concentration.

The real issue with the whole process is disposal of the frac water and there we have a real problem. Any amount of salt allowed to enter into the water system will have a damaging effect on the ecosystem and that is unacceptable. Let’s hope DEP can get this right so we can all benefit from the enormous economic impact the drilling will bring and still preserve the natural resources in our area.

Also the picture shown on the un-natural web site shows drilling in process, they should show the end result when the land is reclaimed as well.

Don Williams said...

The internet seems to be over-crowded with anon-experts. The northeastern US contains some of the most folded and fractured bedrock in the country. Look at any road cuts in your travels? For someone to say it is virtually impossible for frackwater to make it to aquifers will provide great comfort to all those with contaminated wells. And there's a heckuva lot more in the drilling wastewater than salts. Why do you think VP Dick Cheney (ex-HALLIBURTON) exempted hydrofracturing from the Safe Drinking Water Act while he was in office? Because he knew it was safe and virtually impossible to contaminate our drinking water?

Anonymous said...

they showed me the money and the heck with the environment. i got my cash and a new condo on the beach. so drill i ain't drinkin the water...

Anonymous said...

Cashed my second 6 figure check yesterday.... C YA!!

Big Dan said...

A picture gallery of Canada's oilsands mining operations,.. don't forget your gas mask.