Natural gas company reveals "fracking" chemical composition
Friday, July 16th, 2010
Environmentalists say they welcome the decision by a leading natural gas company in Pennsylvania to reveal the chemicals used in the drilling process. Activists had been asking the industry to reveal the substances used to help release the gas from the underground Marcellus Shale formation. The company, Range Resources, is the first to reveal the concentrations.
Scientists and environmentalists say now that they have information about the chemical composition of what's being pumped into the ground, the real work will begin. Michel Boufadel, a professor of environmental engineering at Temple University, says those chemicals could pose a public health threat, but more studies are needed.
"I think we should focus on understanding how these chemicals impact the environment in terms of their pathways, through the ground water, the surface water and air pollution," he says.
Boufadel worries that drill permits are given out on a case by case basis. But the hundreds of gas wells planned for the state will have a cumulative effect.
To tap the gas-rich Marcellus Shale, water, sand and chemical compounds are driven deep into the earth to shatter the rock and release the natural gas.
A spokesman for Range Resources says the concentrations of the toxins are too low to have any detrimental effects.