Fracking Chemical Disclosure Accord

Wednesday, October 26, 2011 @ 07:10 AM gHale

Most natural gas drillers operating in the Marcellus shale region have agreed to disclose voluntarily the chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process that makes wells productive, their industry trade group said.

The Marcellus Shale Coalition, a Cecil-based trade group of 200 natural gas companies, drillers and related businesses, issued a statement saying its members agreed to disclosed the contents of the chemicals in the fracking fluid used in each well on a national database,

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“It was really a collaborative effort that had broad support and commitment from the companies and the staff” of the coalition, said spokesman Travis Windle.

Several states, including Pennsylvania, have the information available but do not disclose some of the chemicals that companies claim are trade secrets.

While some of its members, such as Chesapeake Energy Corp. and Range Resources Corp., had been disclosing the chemicals used in fracking fluid, the coalition will require that, as of Jan. 1, all its members do so, Windle said.

Most of the chemicals are included in household products stored under a kitchen sink, Windle said.

Chemicals in fracking fluid mix in with millions of gallons of water and sand pumped underground to break apart shale to release natural gas. The fluid can include acids, chlorides, methanol and ethylene. A controversy has arisen over the hazardous nature of the fracking fluid and treatment of the fluid that returns to the surface.

Although the intentions of the coalition are good, the companies still have discretion over whether they will disclose the chemicals, said Jan Jarrett, president of Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future, a statewide environmental group with an office in Pittsburgh.

“Our position is it has to be mandatory. It’s clear that all (the companies) should do it,” Jarrett said. “Keeping the stuff (contents) secret raises the public’s concerns and suspicions.”

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