Sunday, February 21, 2010

Geologist concerned about drilling truck traffic

Reposting of Article
Geologist concerned about drilling truck traffic

By Elizabeth Skrapits (Staff Writer)
Published: February 19, 2010

DALLAS TWP. - Back Mountain Community Partnership members heard from a geologist Thursday about the use of water in natural gas drilling and what happens to the salt- and chemical-laden water afterwards.
EnCana Oil and Gas USA Inc., in partnership with WhitMar Exploration Co., plan to drill three exploratory natural gas wells in Luzerne County: in Fairmount Township near the Ricketts Glen Hotel on Route 118; in Lake Township on Zosh Road near the Lehman Township border; and in Lehman Township on Peaceful Valley Road.

WhitMar/EnCana have leased more than 15,000 acres in the Back Mountain area, BMCP Chairman Allen Fox of Jackson Township said.

Of the BMCP member municipalities, the companies have leased approximately 4,300 acres in Lehman Township, 2,400 in Jackson Township, 1,300 in Dallas Township, and no acreage yet in Dallas Borough or Franklin and Kingston townships, according to Fox.
EnCana representatives attended the January BMCP meeting, where residents peppered them with questions, primarily about water contamination concerns and potential effects of drilling on the environment.
The company did respond in writing, but BMCP members have not had a chance to read and digest it, so they will wait until the March meeting to present it, Fox said. But Wilkes University geologist Brian Oram was on hand at Thursday's meeting to talk about drilling and water.

Hydraulic fracturing - "fracking" - involves blasting thousands of gallons of water deep underground to break up the shale, which releases natural gas.
Only 10 percent to 30 percent of the water comes back, and what does can be re-used for fracking, Oram said. Often water is hauled to wastewater treatment plants, where it is diluted for re-use, he said, but noted that there are no facilities in the area for treating the briny water. He believes getting rid of used water will be one of natural gas drillers' biggest hurdles in the region.

A treatment facility was recently approved in Williamsport; another is scheduled to open in the Muncy area, BMCP vice-chairman James Reino of Kingston Township said.
Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority is working with Scranton-based PA Northeast Aqua Resources LLC on a plan to treat up to 150,000 gallons of fracking water a day, but so far has not received approval from the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Franklin Township representative Michael Prokopchack asked how the briny water from fracking was different from the salt water sprayed on roads.
Fracking water can contain trace elements including metals and organic chemicals, Oram said. Salt water used for roads does not have the contaminants, he said.

But there is an impact on the shallow freshwater aquifer from road salt, Oram said. And he is more concerned about the trucks carrying used fracking water.
"I don't have a big fear of fracking a Marcellus Shale well. I have a bigger fear of that truck going down the road, tipping over, and we have private wells that have no construction standards," he said. "I spent the last 20 years of my life dealing with people who have the worst-constructed private wells."
Another concern of Oram's is that there aren't any independent, Pennsylvania-based third-party inspectors available to make sure the well casings are done in the right way, using the proper grade of cement.
"Is it fair to say an 18-hole golf course will use more water for irrigation than it does in fracking?" Prokopchak asked.
"Absolutely," Oram replied. However, he said the difference is that while golf course irrigation consumes water, it puts it back into the atmosphere while fracking takes it out of the cycle altogether.
Oram said he would prefer to see partially-degraded water used for fracking rather than taking it from a "nice pristine freshwater stream." He also would like to see water transported by rail instead of by road. There needs to be long-term planning, he said., 570-821-2072

Good Article - my only comments are as follows:

a. Proposed legislation being considered should be supported and will provide a significant step in improving and protecting the health/safety of the community and the environment and maintain the integrity of the resource.

b.Third party inspections should be done by PA - Businesses using PA licensed professionals.

c. We need to look at long-term planning for this industry and begin to think "out of the box" on issues related to managing the water resources, water reuse, and stormwater management.

d. We need private well construction standards and we need to encourage private well owners to get their water tested, identifiy problems with existing well construction, and aid in improving/fixing well construction issues - remember - "We All Live Downstream"




  1. Added Note - I do not recall the use of the word blasting - the initial fracturing or perforations is via shape charges that perforate the casing, cement and great an initial opening/crack into the formation. The remainder of the fracking is created by a combination of chemical dissolution of calcite and other carbonate minerals and then pressure.

  2. sorry - typed to fast -
    Word - not great - but "creates" an initial ....