Both Jugovic and Anderson noted that one of the most highly publicized concerns about toxic fracking fluids hasn’t really been an issue: the suggestion that they might migrate from thousands of feet underground, up to drinking water aquifers.
“Most people agree there are no confirmed cases so far” of fracking chemicals migrating up to drinking water, Anderson said. But he added that simple spills of fluid on the surface can cause problems.
“The most likely of exposure is not from the fracking itself. It is from spills before the fracking fluid is injected,” Anderson said.
There also may be technical and cost issues that limit the acceptance of products such as CleanStim.
There is tremendous variation in the type of shale rock in different parts of the country. For example, drillers use different fluids even within the same state, and the specific mix can play a large role in determining how productive a well is.
Gardiner wouldn’t say how widely used CleanStim is. “The customers who do use it certainly like the material,” he added.
Terry Engelder, a geologist at Penn State University, said he visited a well in that state last year that used just water, sand and three additives in the fracking fluid.
But Engelder added that “green” and “toxic” can be “soft words without real meaning.” He noted that consumers, businesses and farms use vast quantities of chemicals that can contribute to pollution, from cleaners and soaps to fertilizers and pesticides. Yet all those compounds are routinely flushed down the drain, ending up in nearby rivers and streams.
“Eventually industry would like to end up with a mix of just water, sand, and food-grade additives,” Engelder said of fracking.<< previous 1 2