Now before I launch into an "analysis" of this article let me disclose that I have two gas wells on property that I own. When they drilled the wells I was involved on a daily basis with the process - on the drilling platform, inspecting the materials brought in and out, speaking with the folks running the equipment as well as those in the management of the drilling company.
I live close to these wells and, being concerned about what they might do to my own environment, I watched over this all activity very carefully.
The wells were put in place many years ago now - long before the Marcellus Shale boom in the region.
These are relatively shallow wells - some 3,500 ft deep - drilled straight down.
My first problem with the article is that it makes it sound as if the Marcellus fracturing is somehow different than regular fracturing because the "joints" of the shale are oriented vertically. Shallower wells, like I have, are also frac'd - but since the "joints" run horizontally the frac'ing occurs in the vertical pipe.
Though horizontal drilling is use for Marcellus its no different that any other frac'ing. Horizontal drilling also allows the gas industry to use a smaller number of platforms to drill what would effectively require multiple separate wells all from one place. By this I mean that a single drilling platform, with horizontal drilling, can do the work of many without the environmental impact. The drilling runs parallel with the ground up to 10km or more away allowing one well head access to a gas in a wide area.
Next there is concern about the frac'ing fluid - which is basically water.
All the drilling I have observed over the last many years including that done on my property kept all of the waste water in a plastic-lined waste water pond set up by the drilling crew. There was no spillage into water ways, mess, mud or anything else. It was surprisingly neat and organized.
Secondly the frac'ing itself does not involve liquid spraying all over. The whole point is that its pumped through a sealed steel drill pipe down into the ground at tremendous pressure. If it was leaking into the ground water then you couldn't frac the well in the first place because you could not build up the required pressure.
Once the frac'ing is completed the water is collected so that gas can flow out of the well. If the water stayed in there there would be no gas. Since Marcellus Shale gas is at a fairly high pressures, say 400 psi or more, the frac'ing liquid will come out of the well under pressure.
If you've ever seen water pushed by 400 psi you would not believe that it was staying in the ground.
Now we have many thousands of people employed in the region in Marcellus Shale operations. The conference indicates that about a half dozen people had been injured.
The implication was that this was a concern.
Yet as many die from medical errors in the region, or from car wrecks. Perhaps even medical errors at the UPMC facilities where the conference was held.
But there is no concern about that for some reason.
Then there is concern that some are suffering sprains, broken arms, and so on....????
Perhaps its healthier to sit around on unemployment watching TV all day, under stress from having no job, and eating chips made of unhealthy oils that destroy your health.
Then the drilling operation is supported by evil diesel motors - spewing death and poison into the atmosphere - killing adults and children alike...
If I look out my window, Oh My, What's That!
Why diesel trucks - running by pulling huge loads of paper or whatever...
Where's the concern????
So what's the real point of this article?
Its so the "public health monopoly" can shake down the Marcellus folks for money.
See look! The number of sprains and broken arms in our emergency rooms are increasing...
Oh no, someone might spill some dirty water on the ground....
Wake up out there - ever look into the "Three Rivers" at the actual water?
If I brought a bucket of river water and dumped it on my property my guess is that there would be far, far more supposed "danger" to the environment.
No, this is about building up fuel for a "tax" so that we don't have to pay the horrible price of progress.
I think its a shame that this kind of article is what passes for "thoughtful discourse" on the matter of Marcellus Shale.
I think that a field trip to a drilling site would be in order rather than sitting around talking about what might be going on. Its pretty clear from all this that no one "on the inside" at the Public Health school has been on site.
I think they should be - they should find out who works there and why.
Isn't that important?
Firemen do dangerous work too.
No is trying to prevent them from being firemen.