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Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Hey readers, if you don't think Marcellus Shale is NOT a risk to our drinking water, read this!!! This article mentions that these drillers and Frackers will be using our valuable drinking water to pump into the shale and 90% of the water used stays in the well. Is this how we want our most precious and valuable state resource--water-- used?

Do we want our drinking water contaminated forever?

They are projecting 180,000-200,000 wells bored in the State of PA. We all know that most of the gas is in Western PA, therefore, we will be covered in well sites.



Sunday, June 12, 2011 

BROCKWAY - Stephen Cleghorn, Ph.D., showed what the number related to the Marcellus Shale gas well drilling industry can really mean during a community awareness meeting at St. Tobias Church Tuesday.

In his presentation, Cleghorn quoted Terry Engelder of Pennsylvania State University who estimates 50 percent of Pennsylvania's land mass, or 22,835 square miles, will be developed for natural gas extraction over the next 50 years. 

"They're
projecting 180,000-200,000 well bores across Pennsylvania," Cleghorn said.

Additionally an article titled "Gas Drilling's 'Haves' and 'Have Nots' Emerge in Pennsylvania," which was published May 20 by Reuters, was referenced by Cleghorn as saying 25 percent of Pennsylvania's land mass is currently leased for gas extraction.


"John Quigley, former secretary of the PA Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources has said that the cumulative impacts of Marcellus development will dwarf all of the impacts on Pennsylvania of timbering, of oil and coal combined," Cleghorn read. "I am afraid for the future of this state, he (Quigley) said. It is hanging in the balance." 


Cleghorn said the gas industry depicts the difference between a conventional gas well and an unconventional gas well in very simple terms, often describing it is a proven practice it has been doing it for 60 years. 

"What we're seeing around now - this is not our father's gas well," Cleghorn said. 

Four new technologies are used in Marcellus drilling, including: high fluid volume to release gas from new and existing fractures in the shale; slicking the water with chemicals to make fracking possible over long distances; directional drilling into thin, horizontal shale; and multi-well pads to access as much gas as possible. 

"This technology is so new that Dr. Ingraffea puts it this way, they're still inventing it. It's still an industrial process that has yet to reach a steady-state operating procedure because every well is going to be different," Cleghorn said. 

These four technologies were first developed and combined 20 years ago, and while Pennsylvania has had gas drilling for many decades, the first Marcellus Shale gas well was drilled in 2005. 

"Scientists and government officials note that fracking isn't high volume slickwater fracking long laterals," Cleghorn said. "Conventional drilling has been fracking since the 1940s but most of those million fracked wells were verticals. Only about 30,000 nationwide are this type in the four largest U.S. shale plays, according to the Penn State Marcellus Center."

"The pressures (used in fracking) are 15,000 pounds per square inch or more - once described as equal to a thermobaric bomb used in Afghanistan," Cleghorn said. 

One Marcellus well pad during drilling and fracking, plus roads and other infrastructure needed, will be about 8.8 acres. This is 26 times larger than the pad needed to drill a conventional vertical gas well.

"At the surface, Marcellus well pads will require 72 percent more land during the construction and 52 percent more land after reclamation than all 350,000 conventional shallow wells ever drilled in Pennsylvania since 1859," Cleghorn said. 

Well pads have the ability to claim five to 10 acres of land for decades. 

"That state law defines the finish of a well so vaguely, and only after the finish of a well must the site be reclaimed to near its original look," Cleghorn said. 


"There are also unavoidable density issues because they're talking about the systematic fracturing of the entirety of a gas bearing shale across Pennsylvania. Ideally, one square mile could be reached from one pad with multiple wells per pad, but that ideal is very unlikely unless public policy demands it," Cleghorn said. 


Compared with other water uses across the state, Marcellus water consumption only equals about one-half of 1 percent of all daily water uses. 


"Estimates predict Marcellus wells use about 50 million gallons (of water) per day, or 11 billion gallons annually, about 90 percent of which will stay down in the shale," Cleghorn said. "That's a lot of water going down and never coming back."

A Duke University study shows that methane (coming from the shale) had contaminated drinking water in 51 of 60 wells tested within about 3,000 feet from gas-well drilling using the hydraulic fracturing method

Concentrations of methane were 17 times higher in those drinking water wells less than a mile from an active natural gas well than those farther away. 

One of the large unanswered questions is - can gas and chemical-laden fluids migrate into groundwater?

Cleghorn noted the American Petroleum Institute said, "No studies show high volume slickwater fracturing of long laterals is unsafe." 


Cleghorn also noted ProPublica interviewed 40 academic experts, scientists, industry officials, and federal and state regulators who said, "No studies show it is safe." 


Cleghorn said the industry says not to worry as only about 49 percent of the drilling fluid is chemicals. 


"They claim that the petroleum distillates used to slick the water are not much different than those used in make-up remover, laxatives and candy," Cleghorn said. "If 6,400 gallons of petroleum distillate were to contaminate a water supply, it would likely take somewhere between 896 million and 119 billion gallons of water to dilute the benzene to EPA's safe levels."

Therefore, if 90 percent of drilling fluid stays in the ground, a four million gallon frack job would leave 81 tons of chemicals in the ground, of which about 18 percent, or 3,600 gallons, are petroleum distillates.

"We can conclude just two wells will inject enough petroleum distillates to contaminate more than all the water used by New York state in one day (New York uses 9-10 billion gallons per day)," Cleghorn said. "There will be 8-16 wells per pad, and there will be, in Pennsylvania, more than 22,835 well pads. That is a lot of "make-up remover, laxatives and candy" lurking underground for generations to come." 

In considering all the chemicals put underground, each square mile of shale will have 648 tons of chemicals injected into and staying in the shale, Cleghorn said, that makes one ton per acre of chemicals left behind. 


"With 22,835 square miles in Pennsylvania expected to be drilled, the gas industry, over 50 years, will place 14.8 million tons of chemicals, many of them toxic, under 50 percent of Pennsylvania," Cleghorn said.

Pennsylvania data shows Marcellus wells are 1.5-4 times more likely to have violations than conventional wells, and about 1 in every 150 Marcellus wells had a significant environmental impact between January 2007 and August 2010. 

"Some would say this is a really good record for a very complex and difficult industry," Cleghorn quipped. "Suppose only 1-in-500 wells, or 0.2 percent caused a serious environmental incident, if airlines lost 0.2 percent of their 35,000 flights daily, we would lose 70 planes every day."


"These are not just numbers," Cleghorn said. "You can ask yourself is a 0.2 percent, or 1-in-500 rate acceptable? Not if a 1-in-500 chance ruins an aquifer supplying thousands, hundreds of thousands, even millions of people."


Reported by Katie Weidenboerner, Tri-County Sunday. Email: katiew@thecourierexpress.com.

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