Skip to comments.Pennsylvania cattle quarantined from gas fracking contamination
Posted on 07/10/2010 2:22:27 PM PDT by Willie Green
Agriculture officials have quarantined 28 beef cattle on a Pennsylvania farm after wastewater from a nearby gas well leaked into a field and came in contact with the animals.
The state Department of Agriculture said the action was its first livestock quarantine related to pollution from natural gas drilling. Although the quarantine was ordered in May, it was announced Thursday.
A mere taste of what's to come from natural-gas fracking in the Marcellus Shale, folks.
With fracking, or hydraulic fracturing of rock formations to extract natural gas, we're setting ourselves up for an environmental disaster of epic proportions -- and much of it the result of an inability to develop rural economies. Residents in upstate New York and central Pennsylvania are desperate for income, and the gas companies are happy to write checks for mineral rights. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania and New York are in the middle of state budget crises. The prospect of tax revenue from fracking is apparently more than enough to offset environmental concerns.
In fairness, both states are paying attention to the risks of water contamination, but they may both conclude that a little water contamination is a small price to pay for a balanced budget and increased rural incomes (at least for leaseholders). Pennsylvania is already experiencing pushback from gas companies who say the state's drilling regulations for drinking water protection in Marcellus Shale regions are unreasonably high. Complicating matters further is that both the New York City and Delaware Valley watersheds are likely to gain special protections, which leaves areas outside those regions more vulnerable to lenient standards. Ya gotta drill somewhere!
Nightmare scenarios abound. As High Country News summarizes, fracking has brought the West "polluted wastewater problems, large scale habitat disturbance, methane leaks from pipelines, and potentially serious health impacts that come along with the use of toxic chemicals in hydraulic fracturing." And as this article on Civil Eats suggests, even heavily regulated fracking could be enough to destroy much of New York's Hudson Valley farmland. After all, how many cattle quarantines or lost crops does it take to put a farmer out of business? Answer: not many.
Indeed, this latest episode, despite the fact that the cattle don't yet seem to have been harmed, will give little comfort to those who have to listen to industry assurances of safety. Would you want to eat cows that have been dining in fields covered in benzene and diesel fuel?
My hope is that the tactics the energy industry have used to exploit natural resources to great success out West won't work back East, where they are operating much closer to media and population centers. But betting on the strength of politicians' spines to resist doing the bidding of the energy industry never made anyone any money ...
While I am sick of the Left’s full frontal assault on this nation, facking DOES cause issues (though I’m not saying the initial post falls in that category).
Right here in Arkansas - in the “Fayetteville Shale Fields”, there are landowners who have had reliable and good clean wells for a very long time - that once gas drilling with the accompanying fracturing came along, their wells went from good water to water with definite oily residue, off-color sediment, strong sulfur smell, and really awful taste. Others, even relatively closer to the drilling sites have had no change in their well water.
But the point is - it CAN cause troubles (we are dealing with semi-unpredictable layers of rock). Maybe some of those folks with the spoiled wells were close to having troubles anyway - who knows, but regardless, it is hard to ignore it when wells turn bad so quickly after being clean for so long.
WE have to get our energy from somewhere - and windmills can only provide so much from a practical standpoint. WE must utilize the energy sources God gave us -in as reasonable and safe a manner as we can. Going cheap on safety equipment while drilling 5000+ foot wells in the Gulf is a bad idea. Widespread drilling and fracking also has risks. But the option is to just sell what little remains of our national sovereignty and way of life and join the 3rd world. What will it be?
They've been fracking the hell out of us here in North Central Texas (Barnett Shale) with no problem. In fact I think this was one of the areas where extensive horizontal hydraulic fracturing was pioneered. I live in a semirural, mixed in with residential, area with some streams, some agriculture (cattle, hayfields) and various other mixed land usage. There are fracking wells all over the place, and no real problems.
It's pretty much only the hippie leftists down in Austin, and the occassional fear mongering journalist, pitching the horror stories.
Over 40 posts and not a single Battlestar Galactica picture. You people disappoint me.
The the article is about something that MIGHT happen?
Is there any basis for this?
So a bunch of cows will drink water containing methane hydrate and smell worse than usual while blowing out farts and explosive cowpies?
They've been fracking the hell out of us here in North Central Texas (Barnett Shale) with no problem.
There are fracking wells all over the place, and no real problems.
Looks like the gene lab goofed, seriously. That shouldn’t be out of a cage.
Actually, I think they area all dead by now.
They refused to believe those who told them it was safe, but not soon enough.
Of course, later on, the EPA admitted that the contamination should actually be cleaned up. We don't know everything...sometimes our analytical testing methods have to become more sensitive to note contamination is actually there; sometimes something we thought harmless is not. Other times, we decide that something is less harmful than previously assumed.
I mentioned that if they screwed up, I was gonna be the new owner of their company.
They'd just settle with you so they can go on saying that groundwater contamination from fracking fluids "has never been proven."
PA Fracking ping!
What contamination did EPA clean up?
Why are there no real numbers in this report???....because we'd see that it is a farce....
Note that a third of the wells in the study had fecal coliform bacteria--indicating that they are not well isolated from potential surface contamination. It's not necessary to have downhole fracking fluids contaminating the well, as the threat via surface contamination is so great. The liners on sludge pits rupture or leak, there are blowouts, etc. Beyond the fracking issue, Pennsylvania has a well overdue, very strong need for well-construction standards (IMO). I imagine that study concludes that point (I haven't read it yet, but thanks for the link).
Also, much effort has been made to improve understanding in karst areas of PA. Sinkholes are not used as garbage disposals as much as in the past, and you can't use "blood and guts" as tracers like in the old days, but still, there's a lot of natural runoff going into these direct conduits to the groundwater, despite the thick soil covers over most of the areas.
Also note that Pennsylvania taxpayers are left holding the bag when gas companies closed up shop and left without plugging wells so there are countless thousands of open holes still out there. Former colleagues of mine are in on the contract to plug them, but there's enough money for only a few per year (though it's up to hundreds per year instead of tens).
When two companies claim they are no longer going to pump diesel fuel into underground sources of drinking water for fracking coalbed methane wells and then admit doing it for years after that agreement, it's difficult to claim we can just trust them to "do the right thing" without being monitored.
Things like 4-Nitroquinoline-1-oxide (CAS #56-57-5) are not naturally out there and just as healthful as an apple a day. The fact that it was detected in flowback solutions is pretty damning, in my mind. (What is 4-Nitroquinoline 1-oxide used for? As a "very potent mutagen and carcinogen," it's a very reliable means of creating cancerous tumors so anti-cancer drugs can be tested.) If there's no problems to worry about, then there should be no problem with appropriate regulation. I'm not for a ban, but just to be sure safeguards are in place as with other industries who could jeopardize others.
What about the radioactive waste from NORM?
I dunno how much of an issue that is in the waste produced around here. I'm never around it enough to worry. At most passing maybe a tanker truck carrying water away from one of the wells.
Frankly, if these operations were being run by the fed I'd probably worry a bit more. But state and local agencies here in Texas have generally proven sensible and competent. The operators also strike me as having their acts together. Wells and pumping stations go up quickly. Noise abatement devices are always used where needed. Sites are always neat and clean. Pipes are never corroded, always kept painted. Etc, etc.
Of course for the econuts and panty-wadded fear mongers, nothing ever satisfies them.
I don't see the problem...the cattle seem perfectly healthy to me.
Except one thing is puzzling...I seem to have twice as many head as I had before!
On a more serious note...
- Benzene and diesel fuel come from fracking?? Isn't diesel fuel a refined product? Is there a naturally occurring refinery underground?
Diesel fuel has been used in fracking fluids for decades. Benzene and other components of fracking fluid are found in groundwater well above the fracked zone...whether by fluid migration or gas transport, I don't yet know.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.