Natural Gas Drillers Dumping Carcinogens Into U.S. Wells

Published by: The Claw on 18th Apr 2011 | View all blogs by The Claw
Natural Gas Drillers Dumping Carcinogens Into U.S. Wells

A report from three House Democrats released over the weekend says that millions of gallons of potentially hazardous chemicals and known carcinogens were dumped into wells by large oil and gas service companies between 2005 and 2009.  The report said that among the chemicals dumped are at least 29 known and suspected human carcinogens, or chemicals that can cause cancer.  The chemicals are either regulated as risks to human health under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDFA)or listed as hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act.

Methanol was the most widely dumped chemical, the report said, a chemical that is considered a hazardous air pollutant and is under consideration for inclusion of regulated chemicals under the SDFA.  The report was issued by California Rep. Henry Waxman, Massachusetts  Rep. Edward Markey, and Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette.

The chemicals are dumped, the report said, during a process called hydraulic fracturing, which is used in combination with traditional horizontal drilling to obtain access to gas reserves that would otherwise no be economical to reach.  The increased use of hydraulic fracturing has allowed natural gas production to attain levels not seen in the United States since the early 70s.

The process requires large amounts of water and fluids, however, to be injected into the ground at very high pressure.  The composition of these fluids ranges from simple water and sand mixtures to solutions with chemical additives.  The report said that between 2005 and 2009, nine states had at least 100,000 gallons of hydraulic fracturing fluids containing carcinogens injected underground.  The states are Texas, Colorado, Louisiana, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Wyoming, New Mexico, Montana, and Utah.
The Claw

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