News and research

Most members will disclose fracking chemicals, the coalition says.

With mounting concerns over the chemicals used in the natural gas hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, process by natural gas drillers in the Marcellus shale region, people in the area might soon be one step closer to knowing what may be in their water or air.

The Marcellus Shale Coalition, the industry trade group representing 200 gas drilling companies, has said that most of its members have agreed to disclose voluntarily the chemicals that are used.

They are planning to make the chemicals used in each well public, by listing them in a national database titled FracFocus.org.

The companies have previously declined to disclose the chemicals in their fracking fluids because they claimed it was a “trade secret”.

As of January 1, 2012, the coalition will require all of its members to disclose the chemicals, a spokesman said in an article in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

The chemicals are mixed into the millions of gallons of water and sand pumped underground to release the natural gas.

Many of the chemicals can be found in most household cleaners, according to the article, and often, the fluid contains acids, chlorides, methanol and ethylene.

The controversy has centered on the potential health effects linked to the fracking fluid that returns to the surface and how the waste is handled.

Top 5 gas drillers in the U.S.

As the natural gas industry keeps growing at an explosive pace, concerns are starting to surface about the safety of the hydraulic fracturing process and the health effects that may be associated with it.

The concerns center on the chemicals that are being used in the process (which are often deemed proprietary and are not publicized), the VOCs that may be entering nearby residents’ homes and the symptoms that may be linked with the chemical exposure.

More research and studies may be needed to get an accurate picture of the human and environmental impact of gas drilling, but in the meantime, it may help to learn more about the industry itself.

While the industry has kept more than 14,000 oil and gas companies busy in 2009, here are the top 5:

  1. Exxon Mobil
  2. Chesapeake Energy
  3. Anadarko
  4. Devon Energy
  5. BP

The questions remain: Are the chemicals potentially harmful? Will the chemicals be listed properly?

Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, ProPublica

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