Is Fracking Safe? Fracking, Methane and Fracking Water Contamination

Here are the main issues with fracking – methane and fracking water contamination.




Fracking Methane

When fracking methane (natural gas is mostly methane) a certain amount leaks. Why do you care about that? Because methane is about 105 times more potent as a greenhouse gas (GHG) than CO2. How much methane leaks with fracking? Well according to studies released last year by Cornell University based on on site measurements at existing fracking wells, around 4% to 9%.

Now, natural gas has been touted as being better than coal because it actually releases, when burned,

around 50% of the CO2 as coal does. That’s really great!

But if 4% to 9% of it is leaking in the form of methane before it is burned and methane is 105 times worse as a GHG – well, that’s not great.

In fact the Cornell University study noted that over the full life-cycle (extraction, transportation and burning), natural gas is worse than coal as far as GHG’s are concerned.

That’s bad.


Fracking Water Contamination

Fracking water contamination occurs – get this – on purpose! Yeap. You see, plain water doesn’t work. Fracking water must be mixed with a lot of chemicals. Some studies note that over 500 chemicals are used to “contaminate” fracking water.

Fracking also requires a lot of fracking water – around 3,000,000 to 7,000,000 gallons of it per well.

And many more frack wells are required to be distributed across the landscape to get at all the microscopic pockets of natural gas trapped in the shale. Currently we are building on the Marcellus shale 4-5 wells per day, and the rate is expected to increase to over 3,000 per year. That is a lot of wells.

In New York, it is estimate that around 300 BILLION gallons of contaminated fracking water will be needed.


Where Does All That Contaminated Fracking Water Go?

Glad you asked, skippy.

Well, depending upon the situation around 30% to 70% stays in the ground, and the rest comes out where it is stored in “containment” pits and/or tanks and is finally trucked through town, countryside, watersheds, kindergartens, or what have you to be “recycled.”



What’s in All That Contaminated Fracking Water Stuff?

Good question.

Nobody really knows. (Well, SOME people know, but they are not telling all the rest of us.) You see, the most recent Bush administration passed (in 2005) what is called the Halliburton Loophole (they called it the Energy Policy Act). This law said that the gas companies didn’t have to tell us what they are pumping into our ground.

Geniuses, right?

Well the EPA won a lawsuit in 2010 and were able to find out at least some of the goodies the gas companies mix into their frack cocktail.


Fracking Water Contaminants

Here is a partial list:

  • 2-Butoxyethanol
  • Ethylhexanol
  • Formaldehyde
  • Glutaraldehyde
  • Boric Acid
  • Ethane-1, 2-Diol
  • Methanol
  • Monoethanolamine
  • Dazomet
  • Acetic Anhydride
  • Isopropanol
  • Propargyl Alcohol
  • 5-chloro-2-methyl-4-isothiazotin-3-one
  • Diesel


Some of these fracking chemicals are well-known to be associated with:

  • Bone cancers
  • Liver cancers
  • Breast cancers
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Respiratory disorders
  • Circulatory disorders
  • Developmental disorders
  • Brain disorders
  • Nervous system disorders


So there you go!

And now we know.

Thanks, Halliburton!