Saturday, October 23, 2010

Range Resources Follows Through on Promise to Disclose Fracking Chemicals

Back in July, Range Resources promised to voluntarily disclose the composition of each of the hydraulic fracturing components for all their Marcellus wells on their website. It took them about a month, but in late August Range posted the first 8 completion reports: five in the Goettel Unit and three in the Baker Unit in Washington County, PA.

Range explained in their press comments, and again on their website, that their disclosure will “provide regulators, landowners and citizens of the Commonwealth an accounting of the highly diluted additives used at each well site, along with their classifications, volumes, dilution factors, and specific and common purposes.” Range is submitting this same information to the DEP as part of their well completion reports.

Time and again Range has explained that they believe the hydraulic fracturing process is environmentally safe. Their reasons: the Marcellus shale is generally located more than a mile below the water table and is isolated by more than three million pounds of steel and concrete casing. Also, the chemicals are “extremely” diluted, making up less than a half a percent of the total fracking fluid, they say.

True, but those small amounts add up. The average frack job uses about 4 million gallons of water. Even if only 0.14% of that is chemical additives, as listed in one of Range’s completion reports, that still represents 5600 gallons of chemical injected into the ground. Not a lot for a single well, but multiply that by the number of wells in any given area, or on any given well pad, and it adds up.

But, I digress. The point here is that Range Resources is following through with their promise to post completion wells, and you can read them at their website.

One thing you will notice is that Range is not using a long list of chemicals at each well – often five to seven products. The only problem I have with their reports is that they continue to list the only the hazardous compounds listed on MSDS, not a complete listing of chemicals in the compounds. Their friction reducer, for example, they list as containing no hazardous compounds, so they are not disclosing any of those chemicals in their drilling reports to DEP, or to the citizens of PA.


  1. The shale layers are not in a nice expertly made lasagna style set-up as portrayed on Range Resources' website. In reality, to expand on Prof. Ingraffea, the shale layers are more like a drunken lasagna cook went nuts in the kitchen slopping in the sauce and the noodles, etc. in a sloping fashion, with more sauce or noodles in one part than another, along with breaking up the noodles before putting them in, i.e. existing naturally occurring fractures, not in their nice image. When the drillers put their equipment in, no one can say for sure what will happen underground.

  2. Although I don't usually post anonymous comments, the images here are too good to toss into the spam can. Scary to think the underground layers look as bad as my attempts at cooking...

  3. Hi Sue, great site. Thanks for your work. Added your site to our blogroll on 'Public Comment.'

    Posting this comment 3 weeks after your post, after EPA got 8 of 9 companies to disclose chemicals/compounds. I just wrote to EPA asking if they are requesting the 9 companies (Halliburton holding out and being subpoenaed) to provide actual samples of fracking fluids to be analyzed by EPA scientists. That way all chemicals/compounds will be accounted for and in the concentrations / formulas usually used in fracking. Ideally these samples would be obtained in onsite visits by EPA without advanced notice but don't want to sound too untrusting. Trust but verify, no?

    Also asked EPA why they only asked 9 companies -- why not all the gas drillers operating in US? Few if any drillers in Delaware River watershed among the 9 asked to provide fracking chemicals. Asked EPA if they have to sign confidentiality agreements with companies to get the chemical disclosures. Asked them if they are including air pollution in their study due not only to shale gas extraction/fracking itself but also due to diesel exhaust in high-volume drilling areas with hundreds of diesel trucks servicing each well. Asked EPA if they are testing the new GE and Fountain Quail mobile evaporators for recycling produced water/flowback water, not only for purity of recycled water released back into watershed (and who monitors that) but also whether residue-containing evaporant/steam is allowed to escape into the air; are there dangers for workers exposed to evaporant/steam and handling boil-down residue etc. Asked EPA if they are examining flowback water to determine its contents including radioactive elements and its environmental and human health effects; asked if they are investigating findings of Tracy Bank of U Buffalo on uranium in flowback water that she found was bonded to other elements. Asked EPA (this one will make you laugh) to explain why hydraulic fracturing with chemicals injected underground in high volumes of water under high pressure and left underground in massive quantities, contrary to the Safe Drinking Water Act, is still exempt from the SDWA without proper updated testing of these chemicals/compounds? I understand there was an EPA study in 2004 but EPA testing at that time did not include full spectrum testing of fracking chemicals. Given the inadequate testing of fracking in 2004, shouldn't shale gas extraction using the fracking process be suspended nationally by the EPA until the EPA's new and comprehensive cumulative impact study is completed? If not, why not? Asked a few more Qs, these off top of my head.

    No answers from EPA yet. Doubt I'll get answers. Maybe you can help with a few answers, if you know what EPA is up to. Some might be on EPA website, like scope including air pollution but can't find.

    Keep up your great work, Sue.

    Jane Prettyman
    'Dissenta' online.
    Host of Public Comment: Speaking up for
    the Delaware River Watershed

    Honesdale PA.
    Associate of Damascus Citizens
    for Sustainability