Shale gas – May 1

May 1, 2012

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Fracking ‘Health Challenges’ to Be Examined by U.S. Advisers

Alex Wayne, Bloomberg
The Institute of Medicine will examine whether the process of hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas from rock “poses potential health challenges,” a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official said.

Health concerns related to fracking, in which millions of gallons of chemically treated water are forced underground to break up rock and free gas, include the potential for water contamination and air pollution, Christopher Portier, director of CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health, said at a workshop in Washington today…

“As public health officials, we are committed to ensuring that development happens responsibly,” Portier said in introductory remarks. Portier, who also directs the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, said that agency has received complaints from people in communities with gas wells.

“They have mentioned health effects like nausea, respiratory issues and irritating odors,” he said…
(30 April 2012)

Restrict shale gas fracking to 600m from water supplies, says study

Press Association, The Guardian
Controversial “fracking” for shale gas should only take place at least 600 metres down from aquifers used for water supplies, scientists said on Wednesday.

A new study revealed the process, which uses high-pressure liquid pumped deep underground to split shale rock and release gas, caused fractures running upwards and downwards through the ground of up to 588 metres from their source.

The research, published in the journal Marine and Petroleum Geology, found the chance of a fracture extending more than 600 metres upwards was exceptionally low, and the probability of fractures of more than 350 metres was 1%.

Researchers said the study showed it was “incredibly unlikely” that fracking at depths of 2km to 3km below the surface would lead to the contamination of shallow aquifers which lie above the gas resources…
(25 April 2012)

Reporting of fracking and drilling violations weak

Erica Fink, CNN Money
For Pennsylvanians with natural gas wells on their land, chances are they won’t know if a safety violation occurs on their property.

That’s because the state agency charged with regulating the wells — the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) — does not have to notify landowners if a violation is discovered. Even if landowners inquire about safety violations, DEP records are often too technical for the average person and incomplete.

While some landowners would like more transparency around safety issues, as a group they are not pushing for stronger regulations. Landowners, who are paid royalties by the companies that drill on their property, generally want the drilling to proceed…
(1 May 2012)

Lancashire schoolgirl wins chance to address MEPs with anti-fracking video

Leo Hickman, The Guardian
An 11-year-old schoolgirl from Lancashire recently returned from Brussels where she addressed MEPs on the controversial subject of shale gas extraction by hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, as it is now more popularly known.

Tara Choudhury, a pupil at Millfield Science and Performing Arts College in Thornton-Cleveleys, won the chance to visit the European parliament after posting a video on YouTube in which she explained why fracking should not be allowed to proceed in her local area. She was chosen as one of five winners of the “Have Your Say on Sustainability” contest being jointly run by Eurostar and the Young People’s Trust for the Environment (YPTE), a charity which “encourages young people’s understanding of the environment”. The competition was open to 10-18 year olds and asked entrants to record a video of “you telling us your views on protecting the environment”…

It is interesting to see that fracking, in particular, has already become a debating point in schools. In the US, where fracking has been commonplace in some regions for a decade or more, a battle for young hearts and minds has been raging for a while…

(1 May 2012)

Chesapeake plugs blown Wyoming well

Jeremy Fugleberg, Casper Star-Tribune
Chesapeake Energy Corp. and its contractors on Friday stopped the flow of natural gas from an out-of-control well in eastern Wyoming, nearly three days after the well into the Niobrara Shale formation blew out and led 50 nearby residents to evacuate their homes.

Aided by a favorable wind that pushed gas away from the site, contractors pumped drilling mud into the well until the gas flow stopped, said Tom Doll, Wyoming’s oil and gas supervisor.

He said he doesn’t expect any further release of gas from the well, located about seven miles northeast of Douglas.

Chesapeake will monitor the situation over the weekend, continue to stabilize the well, then on Monday start cleaning the rig and well site, including spilled drilling mud and any other liquids that spewed from the well, Doll said…
(27 Apr 2012)

Drillers May Frack First, Disclose Later Under Draft Plan

Katarzyna Klimasinska, Bloomberg
Natural-gas companies drilling on U.S. land would be permitted to wait until after hydraulic fracturing is completed to disclose what chemicals they used, under a draft rule being considered by the U.S. Interior Department.

A version in February required companies to file a complete chemical makeup at least 30 days before work began, something energy trade groups, including Washington-based American Exploration and Production Council, complained about. They said it could slow energy production on federal lands.

President Barack Obama has pledged to increase U.S. natural gas production in a way that doesn’t hurt the environment. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, releases gas trapped in shale rock by injecting water, sand and chemicals thousands of feet underground. It’s used for almost every new natural-gas well drilled in the U.S.

Requiring disclosure of chemicals “would only be required after the fracturing operation has taken place,” according to the draft, obtained by Bloomberg News…
(1 May 2012)

Tags: Energy Policy, Fossil Fuels, Industry, Natural Gas, Politics, Waste