FracFocus Hocus Pocus

Bogus US Drilling Chemicals Database No Substitute For FRAC ACT

Make no mistake… the “Chemical Disclosure Registry” found at FracFocus.org is a sophisticated instrument of industry propaganda, not an independent, academic webtool. Though basically useless as a database, the site accomplishes more than simply informing the public about the chemicals a gas driller may, or may not, be using when hydraulically fracturing a well near you. FracFocus cleverly packages the information in an attempt to legitimize the use of the many dangerous toxins required in unconventional horizontal drilling. 

The registry is helpful, sure, but as our shared freshwater resources are at stake, FracFocus cannot meet the need for stringent government oversight. Such information would only be legally, and unilaterally, required by the passing of The FRAC Act, a bill co-sponsored by Colorado Representatives Diana DeGette[D] and Jared Polis[D] and New York Representative Maurice Hinchey[D].

In their words, the Frac Act is “a bill that establishes common sense safeguards to protect drinking water from risks associated with the natural gas drilling technique known as ‘hydraulic fracturing’ or ‘fracking.’ Fracking is a process used in almost all natural gas drilling, whereby fluids are injected at high pressure into underground rock formations to blast them open to increase efficiency of the wells.  Fracking fluids contain highly toxic chemicals which can contaminate drinking water, yet are not identified to the public.  The FRAC Act would remove the oil and gas industry’s exemption from the Safe Drinking Water Act, which was created by the 2005 Energy Policy Act, and require disclosure of the chemicals used in fracking fluids.”

FracFocus.org is a project of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission and Groundwater Protection Council, and while it is funded with taxpayer dollars, it’s overwhelmingly comprised of industry representatives. I guess it’s laudable that drillers are willing to report the highly toxic chemicals they’re blasting into the ground, and this may be a genuine attempt to make the information accessible, but it still doesn’t make it okay. A slick, water-themed website does not an environmental safeguard make.

Click here to Support The FRAC Act.

 

Chemicals Database Expands, Frack Act Still Required

[Updated from Original Post, May, 2012]

Texas is the fifth state to require the disclosure of well-by-well data with an online public clearinghouse, FracFocus.org. Colorado, Montana, Louisiana, and North Dakota also require posting of data with FracFocus,” reported Andrew Maykuth in More States Ordering Disclosure of Fracking Chemicals in The Philadelphia Inquirer on Sunday, January 22, 2012. Maykuth also points out that the idea that gas drillers are using a proprietary “witches brew” was tantamount to a Public Relations disaster, and that Texas and the other states are engaged in “a belated attempt to soothe public suspicion about shale-gas drilling.

FracFocus’ home page prominently states “Groundwater Protection: Priority Number One,” yet two clicks later, we’re being sold on debatable cement casing technology, clearly the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission’s contribution to the site. Many experts agree that cement casings are too porous to adequately protect water supplies in the long term.

If nothing else, we might praise the collaborative effort. There’s too little of that among gas and environmental interests, if that is indeed what’s represented here. There’s just the right amount of information to keep you focused, including detailed maps of well sites state-by-state, plus state level regulations and process explanations.

But I keep clicking back to the list of chemicals. No matter how it’s couched, or how pleasantly characterized, it’s largely a list of toxins and carcinogens. And, over the next fifty years, the gas industry would like to truck 14.8 million tons of these poisons into our state and pump them into ground! I’m a realist, and we’re already closer to 10,000 frack wells in Pennsylvania than I want to believe. (7,725 last time StateImpact.org counted) At the very least, someone is keeping track, and luckily, FracFocus isn’t the only one.

Buy Fresh, Buy Local
When it comes to credible, academic information on shale drilling in Pennsylvania, maybe try FracTracker.org which is hosted by The University of Pittsburgh. It’s a more independent and comprehensive database of industrial gas drilling activity in Pennsylvania, one which not only tracks Marcellus well information, it maps private water wells and drinking water supplies across the state, too. Pennsylvania has over 2.5 million mostly unregistered, totally unregulated, private drinking water wells, more than any other state. To their credit, and credibility, FracTracker isn’t afraid to overlay water and gas well data on the same map. There are other sites aggregating Marcellus shale gas data, too, but you really do take you chances, as most are derived from flawed PA Department of Environmental Protection data.

What’s Lurking Beneath…
Because the list of chemicals used in shale gas extraction is so staggeringly long, I had to paste it below. Some chemicals you may recognize, some are downright scary. For a list of chemicals used in completed frack wells near you, and links to EPA descriptions, click on FracFocus’s Find A Well feature with a large grain of salt.

To find clear, general information about Frack Wells and Gas Infrastructure in your area, visit StateImpact.org‘s app, “Shale Play. which was recently rechristened with the more benign title.

Chemical Name:
Hydrochloric Acid 007647-01-0
Acid: Helps dissolve minerals and initiate cracks in the rock

Glutaraldehyde 000111-30-8
Biocide: Eliminates bacteria in the water that produces corrosive by-products

Quaternary Ammonium Chloride 012125-02-9
Biocide: Eliminates bacteria in the water that produces corrosive by-products

Quaternary Ammonium Chloride 061789-71-1
Biocide: Eliminates bacteria in the water that produces corrosive by-products

Tetrakis Hydroxymethyl-Phosphonium Sulfate 055566-30-8
Eliminates bacteria in the water that produces corrosive by-products

Ammonium Persulfate 007727-54-0
Breaker: Allows a delayed break down of the gel

Sodium Chloride 007647-14-5
Breaker: Product Stabilizer

Magnesium Peroxide 014452-57-4
Breaker: Allows a delayed break down the gel

Magnesium Oxide 001309-48-4
Breaker: Allows a delayed break down the gel

Calcium Chloride 010043-52-4
Breaker: Product Stabilizer

Choline Chloride 000067-48-1
Clay Stabilizer: Prevents clays from swelling or shifting

Tetramethyl ammonium chloride 000075-57-0
Clay Stabilizer: Prevents clays from swelling or shifting

Sodium Chloride 007647-14-5
Clay Stabilizer: Prevents clays from swelling or shifting

Isopropanol 000067-63-0
Corrosion Inhibitor: Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent

Methanol 000067-56-1
Corrosion Inhibitor: Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent

Formic Acid 000064-18-6
Corrosion Inhibitor: Prevents the corrosion of the pipe

Acetaldehyde 000075-07-0
Corrosion Inhibitor: Prevents the corrosion of the pipe

Petroleum Distillate 064741-85-1
Crosslinker:  Carrier fluid for borate or zirconate crosslinker

Hydrotreated Light Petroleum Distillate 064742-47-8
Crosslinker: Carrier fluid for borate or zirconate crosslinker

Potassium Metaborate 013709-94-9
Crosslinker: Maintains fluid viscosity as temperature increases

Triethanolamine Zirconate 101033-44-7
Crosslinker: Maintains fluid viscosity as temperature increases

Sodium Tetraborate 001303-96-4
Crosslinker: Maintains fluid viscosity as temperature increases

Boric Acid 001333-73-9
Crosslinker: Maintains fluid viscosity as temperature increases

Zirconium Complex 113184-20-6
Crosslinker: Maintains fluid viscosity as temperature increases

Borate Salts N/A
Crosslinker: Maintains fluid viscosity as temperature increases

Ethylene Glycol 000107-21-1
Crosslinker: Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent.

Methanol 000067-56-1
Crosslinker: Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent.

Polyacrylamide 009003-05-8
Friction Reducer: “Slicks” the water to minimize friction

Petroleum Distillate 064741-85-1
Friction Reducer: Carrier fluid for polyacrylamide friction reducer

Hydrotreated Light Petroleum Distillate 064742-47-8
Friction Reducer: Carrier fluid for polyacrylamide friction reducer

Methanol 000067-56-1
Friction Reducer: Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent.

Ethylene Glycol 000107-21-1
Friction Reducer:  Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent.

Guar Gum 009000-30-0
Gelling Agent: Thickens the water in order to suspend the sand

Petroleum Distillate 064741-85-1
Gelling Agent: Carrier fluid for guar gum in liquid gels

Hydrotreated Light Petroleum Distillate 064742-47-8
Gelling Agent: Carrier fluid for guar gum in liquid gels

Methanol 000067-56-1
Gelling Agent: Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent.

Polysaccharide Blend 068130-15-4
Gelling Agent: Thickens the water in order to suspend the sand

Ethylene Glycol 000107-21-1
Gelling Agent Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent.

Citric Acid 000077-92-9
Iron Control: Prevents precipitation of metal oxides

Acetic Acid 000064-19-7
Iron Control: Prevents precipitation of metal oxides

Thioglycolic Acid 000068-11-1
Iron Control: Prevents precipitation of metal oxides

Sodium Erythorbate 006381-77-7
Iron Control:  Prevents precipitation of metal oxides

Lauryl Sulfate 000151-21-3
Non-Emulsifier: Used to prevent the formation of emulsions in the fracture fluid

Isopropanol 000067-63-0
Non-Emulsifier: Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent.

Ethylene Glycol 000107-21-1
Non-Emulsifier:  Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent.

Sodium Hydroxide 001310-73-2
pH Adjusting Agent: Adjusts the pH of fluid to maintains the effectiveness of other components, such as crosslinkers

Potassium Hydroxide 001310-58-3
pH Adjusting Agent: Adjusts the pH of fluid to maintains the effectiveness of other components, such as crosslinkers

Acetic Acid 000064-19-7
pH Adjusting: Agent Adjusts the pH of fluid to maintains the effectiveness of other components, such as crosslinkers

Sodium Carbonate 000497-19-8
pH Adjusting Agent: Adjusts the pH of fluid to maintains the effectiveness of other components, such as crosslinkers

Potassium Carbonate 000584-08-7
pH Adjusting Agent: Adjusts the pH of fluid to maintains the effectiveness of other components, such as crosslinkers

Copolymer of Acrylamide and Sodium Acrylate 025987-30-8
Scale Inhibitor: Prevents scale deposits in the pipe

Sodium Polycarboxylate N/A
Scale Inhibitor: Prevents scale deposits in the pipe

Phosphonic Acid Salt N/A
Scale Inhibitor: Prevents scale deposits in the pipe

Lauryl Sulfate 000151-21-3
Surfactant: Used to increase the viscosity of the fracture fluid

Ethanol 000064-17-5
Surfactant: Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent.

Naphthalene 000091-20-3
Surfactant: Carrier fluid for the active surfactant ingredients

Methanol 000067-56-1
Surfactant: Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent.

Isopropyl Alcohol 000067-63-0
Surfactant: Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent.

2-Butoxyethanol 000111-76-2
Surfactant: Product stabilizer

One of the problems associated with identifying chemicals is that some chemicals have multiple names.  For example Ethylene Glycol (Antifreeze) is also known by the names Ethylene alcohol; Glycol; Glycol alcohol; Lutrol 9; Macrogol 400 BPC; Monoethylene glycol; Ramp; Tescol; 1,2-Dihydroxyethane; 2-Hydroxyethanol; HOCH2CH2OH; Dihydroxyethane; Ethanediol; Ethylene gycol; Glygen; Athylenglykol; Ethane-1,2-diol; Fridex; M.e.g.; 1,2-Ethandiol; Ucar 17; Dowtherm SR 1; Norkool; Zerex; Aliphatic diol; Ilexan E; Ethane-1,2-diol  1,2-Ethanedio.

This multiplicity of names can make a search for chemicals somewhat difficult and frustrating. However, if you search for a chemical by the CAS number it will return the correct chemical even if the name on the fracturing record does not match. For example if the fracturing record listed the chemical Hydrogen chloride and you searched for it by name using a chemical search site you may not get a result. But if you search for CAS # 007647-01-0 it might return Hydrochloric acid which is another name of Hydrogen chloride. Therefore, by using the CAS number you can avoid the issue of multiple names for the same chemical.

Multiple names for the same chemical can also leave you with the impression that there are more chemicals than actually exist.  If you search the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) ‡ website the alternate names of chemicals are listed. This may help you identify the precise chemical you are looking for. The NIST site also contains the CAS numbers for chemicals. NIST is only one of many websites you can use to locate additional information about chemicals.  SOURCE: FracFocus.org

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Take Action by joining the CredoAction campaign in support of The Frac Act. Get hard-copy signatures on the StopFracking Now! petition.

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