Another Viewpoint: Weighing in on the fracking debate
Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2012
0diggsdigg ShareThis5By Steven Corso
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Another Viewpoint is a column The News-Herald makes available so all sides of issues may by aired. Steven Corso lives in Chardon.
I heard from a natural gas industry spokesman that the industry plans to have 300 hydraulic fracture natural gas well pads in Geauga County. This is the county where I live. But even if you do not live here, please read on remembering that the headwaters of the Cuyahoga, Grand and Chagrin rivers are located in my county.
Each well pad could have six or more horizontal drill bores. Let's work with six.
Six times 300 is 1,800 well bores.
Hydraulic fracturing utilizes chemical-laced water and sand at very high pressure to force open cracks in deep shale, where natural gas is locked. The gas flows from these crack into the well bore, which is located over a mile deep. The horizontal portion of the well could extend a mile in length.
The industry has recently been coaxed to make public the chemicals it uses in the process. As it turns out, independent investigation of these chemicals reveals that many of them are toxic to certain organs, carcinogens, mutagens, and/or endocrine disruptors. The industry downplays the risk by pointing out that only 0.5 percent of the solution they pump through the water table into the shale is chemical additive. Back to the math.
To frack one horizontal well bore requires millions of gallons of frack fluid — I've seen estimates ranging from 2 million to 7 million gallons. Let's work with 3 million gallons.
A half percent of 3 million is 15,000 gallons of chemicals!
So if each of the 300 well pads has six horizontal bores and each of those requires 15,000 gallons of chemicals, then that's 27 million gallons of chemicals.
The industry tells us that some portion of the fluid pumped into the shale comes back out and can be reused. Unfortunately, when this water does return, it often contains very high concentrations of salts, heavy metals, and radioactive elements like radium. Continued...
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Nevertheless, some fluid can be pumped back through the water table — so 27 million is probably a high estimate.
The 95.5 percent water used has to come from somewhere. For 300 well pads with six well bores the total amount of water we're talking about approaches 5.4 billion gallons of water. Where's all this water come from? Well, in other gas extraction areas, the water has come from local municipal water supplies, ground water supplies, or has been diverted from local streams and rivers. It has also been trucked in from other places. And don't forget, eventually all this radioactive, carcinogenic, salt water has to be disposed of.
On average, to drill and frack a single well bore requires round-trip deliveries from around 1,000 large, diesel-powered trucks. In Geauga County, there might be (300 x 6 x 1000) 1.8 million truck deliveries around the county over the coming years. At 400 square miles, there should be — on average — one 5+ acre well pad every 1.3 miles in Geauga County.
But Geauga is not unique. The industry wants a similar number of wells in most Ohio counties. In fact, it wants 500,000 such well pads tapping into shale under much of Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York and other adjacent states. The industry says this can all be done safely, but some experts have explained how this fluid could migrate up to the water table, or close to it, via faults and other nearby wells; in fact, there's evidence that this has occurred. We're ignoring the inevitable truck traffic accidents and leaks and the mathematical guarantees of air pollution.
Is this the future world we want to inhabit? Do we want to industrialize the American countryside? Would our children trade spring peepers for tanker trucks and generators? Fishing and swimming for community clean-up projects? The smell of cut hay for volatile organic compounds and hazardous air pollutants?
The gas industry and our state and federal governments — under the influence of gas industry money — say this is going to be great for the country and local communities. But who gets to decide the future of rural America?
It seems we locals will decide. We will each "vote" in our own strange and corrupted "democratic" process. The ballot of a "Yea" vote is a signed lease, which is rewarded with the delivery of a handsome check a few weeks later. A "Nay" vote is unaccompanied by financial reward but will still yield, for those who cast it, the big costs that always come with industrialization.
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The following are comments from the readers. In no way do they represent the view of news-herald.com.
Wil Burns wrote on Mar 21, 2012 2:41 AM:
" We get out drinking water at the DEEP SPRINGS TROUT CLUB, located in Chardon, Ohio. (We have for years) Will all this fracking contaminate this spring? "
Justtim wrote on Mar 21, 2012 5:52 AM:
" Oh my God! Were all going to die! "
PVILLE wrote on Mar 21, 2012 10:05 AM:
" Justtim you are correct. We are all going to die. What purpose is served to speed the process up. and contaminate the world for those you leave behind?
This man brings up a point we should pat attention to it. "
Keep reading wrote on Mar 21, 2012 10:37 AM:
" There is an excellent article in Rolling Stone which illustrates the incentive for the fracking industry is not in gas production, but leveraging land leases....so just like the mortgage industry, greedy investors are making big profits speculating. In years to come, Northern Ohio fresh water will be sooo valuable..lets not ruin it. "
Also Very Concerned wrote on Mar 21, 2012 10:55 AM:
" St. Mary's Social Justice Ministry (Painesville) is very concerned about hydraulic fracturing. In their bulletin this past Sunday, they stated that 40-60 thousand pounds of chemicals (93% of which are toxic) go into every well. These chemicals are already showing up in Pennsylvania rivers used for drinking water...and did you know that the federal energy bill that went into effect in August 2005 REMOVED the rights of the EPA to regulate fracking under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Superfund Act?
The leasing agents of the oil and gas companies involved are aggressively hosting local meetings to entice land owners with large signing bonuses and on-going royalties.
There is a meeting at 6:30pm at Moreley Library in Painesville on Tuesday, March 27. The award winning indepently produced movie titled GASLAND will be shown along with discussion on this topic of serious concern to all of us.
Thanks to the author of this Viewpoint for writing.
Unbridled GREED to the detriment of all including generations to come MUST always be challenged! "
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