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4 Scary New Finds About Fracking This Week

The bad news just keeps on coming.
 
 
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This article was published in partnership with  GlobalPossibilities.org.

Faculty and staff at the Community College of Philadelphia want their institution to “severe all ties to the Marcellus Shale Coalition and the gas fracking industry.” Their recently passed resolution came after the college accepted $15,000 from industry group Marcellus Shale Coalition and then decided to open an “Energy Training Center.” The Philadelphia Inquirer explained that, “The college aims to prepare students to work for local companies doing Marcellus-related work.” The resolution from faculty and staff instead calls on the college “to expand its initiatives and offerings in clean, green energy and environmental career fields,” EcoWatch reports.

The pushback is a welcome development because it’s not often that fracking is followed by much good news. Here’s a look at some other headlines that fracking grabbed this week.

1. What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You

By now you likely know that most states (and the federal government) don’t require companies that frack oil and gas wells to disclose the multitude of chemicals in the toxic slurry that gets pumped underground. This is problematic for so many reasons, and here is just the latest. Ben Elgin, Benjamin Haas and Phil Kuntz reported for Bloomberg that, “A subsidiary of Nabors Industries Ltd. (NBR) pumped a mixture of chemicals identified only as ‘EXP- F0173-11’ into a half-dozen oil wells in rural Karnes County, Texas, in July.”

The problem?

Few people outside Nabors, the largest onshore drilling contractor by revenue, know exactly what’s in that blend. This much is clear: One ingredient, an unidentified solvent, can cause damage to the kidney and liver, according to safety information about the product that Michigan state regulators have on file.

Here’s the even more troubling part of this story: Texas does have a law that requires drillers to disclose what’s in their frack fluid — except Nabors is exempt because the company says it’s a “trade secret.” I guess they don't want other companies finding out the quickest way to cause people organ damage. And of course, they aren’t the only ones. “Drilling companies in Texas, the biggest oil-and-natural gas producing state, claimed similar exemptions about 19,000 times this year through August, according to their chemical-disclosure reports,” the story says. 

2. Accident Prone

One of the main complaints you’ll get from people living near fracking operations is truck traffic, whether it’s North Dakota or Pennsylvania or any other gasland state. People have seen their rural roads and quality of life decimated by thousands of daily truck trips. They worry about diesel emissions, relentless dust on dirt roads, accidents and spills -- and they have every reason to be concerned. Here’s a little sampling of what people in West Virginia experienced last weekend. On Saturday Frank Williams’ son and son’s cousin were playing in their yard when a tanker truck full of fracking lubricant lost its brakes, crashed through a guardrail and trees, and ended up a creek across the street. 

“Williams said when he looked up to see what the commotion was, the truck's rear end was in the air,” the Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register reported. “The truck then toppled over, coming to rest on its side, the fracking fluid leaking into the creek. Firefighters placed booms and oil-absorbing pads in the water to soak up the lubricant that appeared thick and black.” Luckily, the kids were unhurt and the driver was treated and released from the hospital. The creek, well, who knows? 

The following night in New Milton, WV local resident Diane Pitcock reported that, “A tanker truck owned by US Well Services ran off the road and plunged into Meathouse Fork Creek...Doddridge County Emergency Services was called to the scene to suction diesel fuel from Meathouse Fork Creek. State Police took an accident report and it seems that after these two local emergency responders visited the site, the contractors for Antero took over and began damage control and clean up.”

 
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