Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Talking Point 3: Nix the Frack Pits

A third major amendment we need to push for is the prohibition of open pits.

It takes around 3 million gallons of water per frack job on the Barnett. About 1 million gallons of that will flow back upon completion of a well as produced water. Under the current rules, this water is allowed to be stored on site in open pits until it is hauled away for deep well injection.

These frack pits are problematic. The produced water not only contains all the hazardous chemicals used in frack fluids, but also all the contaminants (including heavy metals, VOCs, and radioactive material) picked up from rocks deep below the surface.

If these pits were to leak or spill (perhaps overflowing from a heavy rain), those toxins would enter the environment. Even the most glowing, industry-friendly reports (here is an example) will acknowledge that spills and leaks from pits are a legitimate concern.

In addition, some of the lighter hydrocarbons, such as benzene, can volatalize (offgas) from frack pits, thereby adding threats to air quality to those already present for soil and water quality.

Once again, other municipalities on the Barnett Shale have led the way - this time, by prohibiting open pits and requiring closed-loop drilling fluid systems, which replace pits with closed containers -- a process that also allows for some water reuse. Flower Mound, Southlake, and Hurst have all taken these steps.

So here is another case where there is a clear risk, a technological fix (closed-loop systems replace pits), and legal precedent at the municipal level. You tell me why pits are still allowed in the draft ordinance...I just don't get it.

1 comment:

  1. Open fracking pits holding upwards of 1 million gallons of dangerous toxins being allowed within the city limits is too idiotic to consider here (or anywhere else) when there's a viable option already mandated in most metropolitan areas in North Texas.

    Any city official who hasn't taken multiple field trips led by knowledgeable scientists (versus industry PR hacks) to see gas drilling in all its nasty stages should not be allowed to have a vote on the matter. Unless you've choked, had stinging eyes and a burning throat caused by drilling, the fracking stage, flaring (burn off) of gas or the venting to prevent explosion, you don't have any idea of what it is like to live near one of these horrific sites. The spotlessly clean and landscaped wells most people have seen don't begin to tell the dirty story of what it took to get to that point. And even this "clean" stage vents toxins in the air whenever pressure builds.

    Think of it this way - all of Denton is our back yard. Would you want this danger near your home?