Our Water Is Totally Fracked Up

An independent lab found fracking chemicals in the well water of “almost everybody” living in one neighborhood in Pennsylvania. Fracking is not a typo or a joke or a TV reference, it refers to “hydrofracking,” in which chemicals are pumped into the ground to create cracks and fissures that increase the output of oil and gas wells. The neighbors point their fingers at nearby drilling company Cabot, who has countered that the chemicals, like methane, were in some of the wells already before they began fracking everything up.

Report: Fracking chemicals in Pennsylvania water wells [9WSYR] (Thanks to Kristen!)


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  1. Runner says:

    really this isn’t anything new. Look for the video’s on you tube. There’s some people that can take a lighter to the water coming out of their facet’s in their houses and have a flame shooting out.

    There was a documentary done a few years ago about this. The gas companies never take the blame.

    • Runner says:

      Found the documentary, it’s called GasLand. Here’s the trailer for it.

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      Gasland. Just saw it a few months ago. Probably the best quote from the movie was while he was interviewing some energy representative near the end of the video (I forget who it was, maybe it was a government rep that ok’d the fracking). Gonna paraphrase too, since I’m not a robot:

      “If there’s anyone affected that hasn’t had their water replaced, we need to know about it.”
      “Can you replace a river?”

  2. YukonSid says:

    Why do people put a ‘k’ in hydraulic fracturing? There’s no ‘k’ in the originating industry term, and you have the same sound by shortening it to frac-ing.

  3. Tim says:

    Nothing new here. You hear about it a lot, but you don’t hear about it for very long. The gas companies pay people off and/or pay for a municipal water hook-up, in return for a confidentially agreement.

    Publicly, the gas companies say that there’s nothing harmful in the fracking fluid. But they refuse to disclose what’s in the mixture (federal law allows them to do so, since it’s a trade secret and such), and trucks carrying it have to have hazmat placards. Yeah, nothing to see here.

    On a related note, if the natural gas itself gets into your well, you get exciting things like this:

    • sullivanftw says:

      It’s not the oil and gas companies job to say whats in it–it’s the service companies.

      • Tim says:

        Sorry. I meant to say “the companies contracted, paid and directed by oil and gas companies to frack the wells, for the gas companies.” The point remains.

    • CBenji says:

      In Bradford County it is methane they are having trouble with now, but to me it is the surfactant that I would seriously be so freaking out about. Of course I don’t know if that would matter as you most likely not live to tell anyone about it if you drank it or if the fish did.

      • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

        Sodium lauryl sulfate, a common surfactant used in shampoo, is perfectly edible. They sometimes use it in place of eggs to make food foamy. It works particularly well in angel food cake. You wanted to know that, right?

        Obviously I would not use a commercial oilfield surfactant in my cooking. That is not what I meant at ALL.

  4. ParingKnife ("That's a kniwfe.") says:

    At what point do the gas companies just accept that no one is stupid enough to believe them anymore?

  5. ehrgeiz says:

    Gasland, new documentary on HBO. Watch it and then listen to the gas companies that tell you its safe to put hundreds of known cancer causing chemicals into the earth and on their own workers.

  6. dreamfish says:

    Is fracking better or worse than fragging?

  7. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    I work for a company that designs and deals in equipment and chemicals for oil drilling (among other things). I can assure you with great confidence that with proper planning and a tablespoon of “give a damn”, no drinking water need be compromised. Something is VERY WRONG HERE and Cabot are being idiots or worse.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      I completely agree. I work for an environmental consulting firm and we design mitigation systems and develop safety plans for virtually any type of company that requires a permit from the Army Corps, EPA, or state DEPs.

      The problem is, there are a lot of firms that do the bare minimal amount of work (or less) and are never held accountable by regulatory agencies. In many situations, it’s actually cheaper to pay fines than to upgrade engineering controls to be in compliance.

    • Skankingmike says:

      what’s your thoughts on gasland?

      • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

        Haven’t seen it, and I can’t load videos at work. I’ll let you know if I get a chance to watch it after I get home.

        Bottom line, though, is that the disconnect likely happens when the company that makes a chemical is not involved in the application, and the end user of the chemical uses it based on marketing material and doesn’t bother to find out whether it is suitable for their particular case. Negligence, really. But passive negligence is really nothing more than the consequence of someone’s active decision to put something else (convenience, cost, another project, burnout, sabotage) before safety.

    • FilthyHarry says:

      What went wrong is apparenly a tablespoon of “give a damn” was cut from the budget to get the stock price up a fraction of a point.

      And it always will be. Thats the problem with assurances of safety, they’re predicated on an ideal that doesn’t exist: That people will do the right thing.

  8. ajlei says:

    All I can say is, I’m glad I’m in Portland where the water tastes delicious. Mmmmmm.

  9. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    Is “fracking” the worst thing you’re worried about? Heh. In the engineering database I manage, we have whips, chains, collars, studs, cages, dogs, nipples, clamps, lubricants, vibrators, and various other paraphernalia one normally associates with long, hard cylindrical objects drilling repeatedly in and out of deep, dark, hot, wet, tight holes.


    • mrscoach says:

      I am doing temp work, and recently we were scrubbing files for a company, and were always laughing at some of the terms we saw. One in particular made me giggle like a 13 year old girl every time I saw it, and for the life of me I can’t remember exactly what it was (only that it implied being on all fours for relations). Especially when used inconjunction of using collars and nipples.

  10. DariusC says:

    Farking…. Farking everything up?

  11. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I didn’t know fracking actually had a meaning other than the substitution for a cuss word. You learn something every day.

  12. Slave For Turtles says:

    Last year, we had a couple of companies vying for a mineral lease of our land. It was creepy. One kept coming to the door at odd hours and wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. I finally told him that my father-in-law has his degree in geology, and the result was stunning. At that line, the creeper’s shoulders visibly sagged, he shuffled his papers, mumbled good-bye, and left in his rented car. Buh-bye. If I had any doubts, that clinched it. How can mentioning a geologist in the family cause such dejection? I’m open to theories.

    • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

      My theory is that they weren’t actually there for what they said they were. But you know me, I’m a misanthropist.

  13. Excuse My Ambition Deficit Disorder says:

    Oh, how I miss BSG….

    We have a big deposit of shale in our little arm pit of New York…lots of people see the $$$ in their eyes and couldn’t care less about destroying the place. I always thought the oil and gas are most likely in the ground for a very good reason…I’m guessing by the higher powers design…we start removing it and take too much…what happens then?? Big sink holes or no lubrication for tectonic plates to move easier…well…guess we will find out at some point…

    • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

      Oh, for…

      Next time you come down with some disease, I hope you don’t claim it’s God’s will and that we are presumptuous and sinful for attempting to treat it. Although if you did, at least you’d be consistent.

    • Red Cat Linux says:

      I miss BSG too. *sigh*

    • stormbird says:

      If the fracking means there are little Grace Parks in the water, I am moving there now.

  14. dush says:

    But wait, I thought gas companies were federally exempt from having to reveal what chemicals they use to frack. So how would a lab be able to know for sure they found fracking chemicals?

    • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

      Chemical engineers know basically what’s required. They just don’t know the exact proportions or some of the more obscure ingredients.

  15. grumpskeez says:

    But but the free market corrects itself! Regulation is bad for profits. They already had some bad chemicals in their wells what’s a couple more? Vote for corporate takeover in Nov with the republican ticket and silence these anti market communists for good!

    • dolemite says:

      If we just reduce taxes on small businesses, and eliminate tax on big corporations, while also propping them up with tax dollars and deregulating…unemployment will drop to -5% (some people will love work so much, they will take 2 jobs), social security will fix itself, the economy will straighten out, healthcare prices will plummet and we can finally be rid of that pesky global warming nonsense.

  16. Liam Kinkaid says:

    Well, I suppose it’s better than the water being all frelled up.

  17. CBenji says:

    I used to live very near this area, still sort of do as I live in Scranton, PA, but it was before they started the gas drilling, and I could almost light my water. I had sulphur water and we did not drink it. It was terrible. I lived in Orwell, PA and had the water tested and it was potable believe it or not, but it played heck with my hair, and Sears cancelled my service contract on my refrigerator even though I had a ten year warranty on the sealed refrigerant on the damn thing. They tried to say it was atmospheric conditions in the house. I mean it smelled like rotten eggs when you ran the water, and it got worse when you went down the hill. I used to have to travel near Dimock and I know a guy who lives there so I am very curious as to how they are handling it all. I also used to work for a mining company, not coal so it is all very interesting. Strangely you get used to that smell after a while, but never drinking that disgusting water. YUCK! And I do think we need to have more solar and wind power, but yet I think we also need to figure out a way to pay for it as the initial start up costs are high otherwise I would have it in my house. Does anyone have it in their house?

    • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

      You may be interested in geothermal energy technology, which if I remember correctly is feasible in Scranton. Interestingly, the same drilling technology and equipment is used to drill hydrothermal wells (but obviously not the same chemicals). I believe geothermal energy is the real solution for the future in places where the local geology allows it.

      Some of the chemicals used for oil extraction (fracking is not drilling) are necessary because of the corrosive and viscous nature of many crude oils. Wells do not need to deal with the same viscosity issues, of course, but water and heat in combination are also very destructive to many materials. Still, geothermal wells are safe, reliable, small above ground, and permanent (in areas where the ground is stable), which is something you can’t say about solar (fragile and not that efficient) and wind power (variable and enormously bulky).

      • CBenji says:

        Yes, unfortunately I could never afford the initial outlay. I have a daughter in private school, but boy do I wish I could. I also don’t think I have enough ground. I have less than 1/16 of an acre. Maybe even half that. It takes me 8 minutes to mow it with a mower with an electric cord if that tells you anything. LOL But I keep thinking about putting solar panels on my roof.

    • Tim says:

      Hey, I grew up in Towanda. Represent.

      Luckily, my parents have municipal water.

      • CBenji says:

        Cool, my kids used to go Towanda school. No longer though. My friends complain about all the traffic now, and as I recall Towanda was bad enough on a Friday at 5:00. I can’t imagine what it must be like now. I still read the Daily, daily thanks to the Internet, and I notice the crime section seems to include many out of town names. I am sure that drives the locals insane.

  18. PTB315 says:

    Just want to point out the fact I’m excited a Syracuse news source was linked. Probably a sad thing that any reference to my city gets a reaction from me…

  19. Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

    NOW can we officially declare war against the oil companies? Clearly they’ve been at war against us for a loooooong time now.

  20. Aquaria says:

    I’m really just wondering – all of you that are oil & gas company haters – what is the solution? I’m not referring to this article – I don’t doubt that o&g companies do bad stuff and cover it up. But what is the alternative – more regulation, less drilling altogether? Is the overall theory to make o&g so expensive we are forced to find other sources of energy?

    Some regulation is probably needed, some regulation with teeth anyway. But when you put so much bureacracy into it that you stop drilling or slow WAY down, what happens? Gasoline goes back to $4.00 / gallon, every consumer product that contains plastic goes up in price, etc. I don’t think the average person has any clue how much of their lifestyle is based on petroleum.

  21. parv says:

    What the people do who get fracking fracked water to make it safe for drinking & food use? Is fracked water hard or soft as far as bathing & washing are concerned?