Chemicals Database Expands, FRAC Act STILL Required

On Friday, May 4, 2012, the Obama Administration issued “New Rules!” for frackers on federal lands. According to John M. Broder in New Proposal on Fracking Gives Ground to Industry in The New York Times, Team Obama made “a significant concession to the oil industry, companies will have to reveal the composition of fluids only after they have completed drilling — a sharp change from the government’s original proposal, which would have required disclosure of the chemicals 30 days before a well could be started.

In a statement on the US Department of the Interior website, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar comments, “This administration’s energy strategy is an all-out effort to boost American production of every available source of energy. As we continue to offer millions of acres of America’s public lands for oil and gas development, it is critical that the public have full confidence that the right safety and environmental protections are in place.

Miguel Llanos reports in US Wants ‘Fracking’ on Federal Lands to Disclose Chemicals on msnbc.com: “Environmental groups welcomed the proposal’s mandatory requirement for disclosure but want even tougher wording.”

Llanos also cites Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune’s official statement, calling on the Feds torein in irresponsible practices, as well as NRDC Policy Analyst Amy Mall‘s comment that: “disclosure would only be required after fracking takes place. It also wants ‘much higher standards’ for well construction and that the injection fluid now stored in open-air pits be stored in enclosed tanks.”

Gas Happens

Mall goes on to say, in her post entitled Big News Today: Department of the Interior Releases a Disappointing Draft Rule for Fracking that “These oil and gas resources belong to the American people, and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages them on our behalf… There are other very important safeguards we think are missing from this proposal. Oil and gas operations are expanding rapidly with new technologies and into new areas, including closer and closer to where families live and children go to school.”

This is a Poison-Now-Tell-Later policy, made further offensive when you consider that the US Government has already opened vast tracts of national land to Oil and Gas Exploration. Basically, President Obama and Democratic Leadership (to whatever extent their views coalesce) are indicating that Unconventional Gas Drilling may proceed, and they will have the credit for it, so long as drillers register their poisons (see list below) on their own industry-generated database, FracFocus.org, yet only after the fact. Dude, that’s weak.

FracFocus.org Expands, FRAC ACT Still Required

[Original Post, April, 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.

Yet the “Chemical Disclosure Registry” found at FracFocus.org seems more like sophisticated industry propaganda than an independent webtool. The database does more than simply inform the public about the chemicals the gas industry uses, it cleverly packages them in an attempt to legitimize their deployment in “unconventional” drilling.

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.

The chemical registry is helpful, to be sure, but FracFocus.org can’t meet the need for independent government oversight, which would be legally, and unilaterally, required by the passing of The FRAC Act, a bill co-sponsored by Pennsylvania Senator, Bob Casey. After all, who’s more credible? A data analyst paid by the gas industry, or one who works for the taxpayers? And while it’s laudable that gas drillers are willing to report the chemicals they’re blasting into the ground, 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.

FracFocus’ home page prominently states “Groundwater Protection: Priority Number One,” yet two clicks later, we’re being sold on 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, I might praise the collaboration of efforts. 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, alas, and we’re already closer to 10,000 frack wells in Pennsylvania than I want to believe. 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, 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.

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 registered frack well sites near you, and links to EPA descriptions, click on FracFocus.org’s Find A Well feature.

To find general information about Frack Wells and Gas Infrastructure in your area, visit StateImpact.org‘s Interactive Map App.

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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4 Responses to “Chemicals Database Expands, FRAC Act STILL Required”

  1. K. Morgan Says:

    I have spent quite a bit of time researching the chemicals used in fracking and it seems like the only way to get any data in bulk form on fracking chemicals disclosures is from http://pivotupstreamgroup.com/D-FRAC.aspx (D-FRAC). I tried the Frac Focus site but it will only let you have info one well at a time… and there are just too many well frackings for this.

    Some of the chemicals used seem benign, like guar gum, but others are known to be very toxic to the environment.

  2. Liz Rosenbaum Says:

    This from the AP via OregonLive.com, August 18, 2012:
    http://www.oregonlive.com/newsflash/index.ssf/story/fracking-hazards-obscured-in-failure-to-report/93e7384c06b295e9cb29da836a80d1c4

  3. FracFocus Hocus Pocus « Keep Tap Water Safe Says:

    […] from Original Post, May, […]

  4. The Year Fractivism Exploded « Keep Tap Water Safe Says:

    […] 1.  Chemicals Database Expands, FRAC Act STILL Required […]

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