Saturday, March 22, 2014

Each tracer is a unique sequence, and each well will be assigned its own tracer, which allows a precise accounting of where the contamination came from. If a tracer assigned to well A shows up in an aquifer, that’s evidence that that well or a fracture in the rock linked to it is connected to that aquifer. If multiple DNA-based tracers come up in one sample of flowback water, or one aquifer, that means there’s an underground connection in the fractures between the wells in which the injection fluid for each gets mixed.

It is hard to understand how many folks have been impacted by bad luck and poor health until you go to the emergency ward of a hospital. If you go many times, you get the reinforcement of the original bad news. We have a lot of sick folks among us and what happens to the detritus is that they end up in the extended care places that have recently lost $60  million in funding.  Not only have the Tories created a bitumen bonanza but in a way they have created a hospital emergency bonanza, a school system bonanza, a health system bonanza and an extended care bonanza. While the bonanza is good for the oil and gas industry, the bonanza is not good for all other places that have been impacted by the policy decisions of the Tories to get everyone and every dollar to move west.

All the people who come to Alberta need places to live. Their kids need schools. Their parents might need to use extended care places. And in general roads, LRT services, buses and travel is booming. When do we get to take a breath and slow down to normal again?

I don't think normal is going to happen any time soon.
There is gold in them fracked landscapes and we're going to see the migration of folks from all over to come to the fracking fields.
Since this has already resulted in citizens yapping about problems in fracked waterways and water on fire it is curious to me that you have no sort of government regulation of the fracking business to ensure that citizen rights are protected.
In other words, why has the ordinary citizen been left to fight it out with big oil when well water goes on fire and the aquifers/waterways get contaminated?
We are told again and again that it is impossible for fracking to contaminate the water sources of good Albertans but based on the information of two spills per day history that has been recently revealed to us--this good Albertan is unwilling to simply trust anymore. She wants proof.
What I want is for the provincial and federal governments to put the onus on big oil to prove to us that fracking does not contaminate our water.
How would the government get the industry to be the proof provider?
They need to use tracers.
I am going to investigate the tracers that they can use to show that there is absolutely no chance in hell that fracking contaminates our water.
If they refuse to use the tracers this proves to me that they are afraid that there will be human errors that cause fracking problems that do contaminate water.
If they do use the fracking tracers and there are no incidents of contamination with no tracer in water supplies--then I guess I will believe the industry.
But again if there are cases of citizens yapping and there is an indelible fingerprint of fracking cocktail with its irrefutable tracer present--well what's a woman to think? I'd say that the presence of the tracer in the well water on fire will be proof in a court of law just as a fingerprint on the weapon used in a murder is proof of culpability of an individual.

It is also curious to me that the industry has paid out megabucks to folks and sealed their lips with non-disclosure agreements when a simple tracer stuck in their fracking cocktails would have ensured that they would have paid out zero dollars.  So why are the oil companies paying out the compensations if they aren't culpable?

Fracking tracer chemicals and products need to be legislated by the federal government for use all over Canada. End of the story.
Why would we accept anything less than having a criminal fingerprint at the place where our water is destroyed?

New Isotopic Tracers for Shale Gas and Hydraulic Fracturing Fluids

Avner Vengosh, Duke University
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New Isotopic Tracers for Shale Gas
and Hydraulic Fracturing Fluids
Nathaniel Warner, Robert Jackson, Tom Darrah,
Gary S. Dwyer, Avner Vengosh
Nicholas School of Environment,
Duke University

The combined application of geochemistry,
stable isotopes (δ18O,δ2H), strontium isotopes
(87Sr/86Sr), boron isotopes (δ11B), and radium
isotopes (228Ra/226Ra) provides a unique
methodology for tracing and monitoring shale
gas and fracking fluids in the environment.


 2013 09:03 AM
The Duke University study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences already made findings of widespread methane in drinking water wells that has deep source. The that nano rust may certainly be helpful in further validating the potential of fracking fluid migration, but does not address the methane as well. "They found high levels of leaked methane in well water near the drilling and fracking sites. The team analyzed water samples from 68 private shallow groundwater wells across five counties in the two states.

Some homeowners claim they can’t drink their well water any longer and say it wasn’t that way before the fracking began.

The team’s study detected measurable amounts of methane in 85 percent of the collected samples, and levels were 17 times higher on average in wells located within a kilometer of active hydrofracking sites, says geologist Stephen Osborn, a former postdoctoral research associate with Jackson and Vengosh at the Nicholas School and Duke’s Center on Global Change, who was lead author of the study. (Osborn joined the faculty at California Polytechnic State University this summer.)

Tests showed that the methane collected from water wells within a kilometer of active sites had a chemical fingerprint similar to thermogenic methane, which is formed at high temperatures deep underground and is captured in gas wells.

No evidence, however, was found to support two of the most widespread public fears about fracking. Water samples showed no sign of contamination from chemical-laden fracking fluids, which are injected into gas wells to help break up shale deposits, nor did the samples contain “produced water,” the high-saline wastewater that is extracted back out of the wells with the gas after the shale has been fractured.

Thus, the issue was methane not the fracking fluids in the Marcellus.[…]/in-the-midst-of-a-fracking-firestorm (this link doesn't work--try the link below)
Malcolm McMichael
Malcolm McMichael
Aug 25, 2013 06:44 AM
Thanks for the link Mauri, however I disagree with your conclusion ("the issue was not fracking fluids") which is accurate only in the narrowest sense. Methane migration is certainly a problem with drilling, but not the only problem with drilling.

For every well fracked, there are millions of gallons of water contaminated with tons of toxic chemicals. That is an inescapable fact of fracking. That water is somewhere, and all of it must be dealt with sooner or later.

Some of it comes back up to the surface; some of it stays down underground (for the time being perhaps). But all of it - millions of gallons per well - is undeniably contaminated. The water that comes up, also picks up all sorts of naturally-occurring nasties from deep underground, along with the toxic chemicals introduced to frack.

As the article in your link states, the water cannot be effectively treated to decontaminate it, so it is simply re-injected in all of its toxicity back into yet another well deep underground somewhere else.

It takes an incredible amount of eyes-pressed-shut denial to feel comfortable knowing that billions of gallons of highly contaminated water is being injected deep underground in shale wells and waste injection wells - under the ridiculous hope that out of sight is out of mind, and that deep injection means permanent safe disposal.

This is akin to the radioactive waste problem of the nuclear power industry. It is fracking's Yucca Mountain problem. The inescapable reality of the industry is it creates massive volumes of permanently contaminated water; and there is simply no truly safe way to render it harmless, so all we can hope to do it bury it somewhere dark and hope it stays there.

Contaminating billions of gallons of water with introduced toxic chemicals along with released natural toxic substances is prima facie reckless, no matter how deep we stick it in the ground.

While I am skeptical of the independence of the makers of the tracing technology, it is perhaps a step in the right direction - acknowledging that all that contaminated water might go somewhere it isn't supposed to go, and that they are ways to try and track it.

Yet it blurs over an important fact we already know: the water is contaminated, and much of it comes back up to the surface, and even if the rest of it stays down underground, at least in the short term, what makes that okay?
Kirk Hohenberger
Kirk Hohenberger Subscriber
Aug 27, 2013 02:21 PM
Yes we are addicts, oil , fossil fuels, not only for our needs, but also for export, which compounds the problem. Much like any other addiction, heroine , we will not stop, not being able to drive our car , or heat our house , or power our electric gadgets and devices, even if it was Positively proven fracking or burning coal or whatever was killing us, animals and the planet we would not stop or quit.
Vincent Stewart
Vincent Stewart
Aug 27, 2013 02:23 PM
I think both of the previous comments are spot on. I spent my summers in college testing private wells for contamination but it was limited to looking for thermogenic methane as a possible indication of frac-induced contamination and it was akin to looking for a needle in a haystack, yet the most glaring issues were the ancillary impacts. Surface disturbance, water use, waste water storage (open and unlined pits), waste disposal etc. The reason technology like this is so easily embraced by the industry is that they will now be able to soothe public concerns about a relatively minor issue partially hiding other more widespread impacts.
Of the thousands of wells I was part of sampling, we never found frac-related groundwater contamination, yet every single well drilled produced thousands of gallons of under-regulated waste (they get hazardous waste exemptions) and permanently disrupted acres of primarily public land.
Peter Bergel
Peter Bergel
Aug 27, 2013 03:02 PM
Promising though this technology is in terms of bringing greater accountability to the world of fracking,it is the very extraction of more fossil fuels that has to be stopped. We already know that burning more than about a fifth of the fossil fuels we already know about would create unacceptable levels of global warming. Most of it, therefore, will have to be left in the ground if we want to survive as a species.
Kirk Hohenberger
Kirk Hohenberger Subscriber
Aug 27, 2013 04:10 PM
It is never said or spoken, or written. The cause of all we worry about. Which is the most frustrating concern. How will society ever fix the real problem , if we can not talk about it or Acknowledge it? It is us, to many of us, and that seems just to Disconcerting to come to grasps about. It is logical to understand that there are limits, yet we do not address this with people. When I was born there were two Billion people , now there are seven billion, there are now seven billion, how can this continue? Why can we not say that you should not have more then one or two kids? What number , could the earth Sustain living as we do now? One billion? The forests could absorb all our co2.that would be our Sustainable number.i worry our Economic model does not even take this into consideration . Based on On unending growth. Now china is even thinking of ending their one child policy, because the economic model Doesn't work with only having one child, even though the more environmental one does, and Ultimately means whether we survive long term.

Caption: PRX default Piece image
PRX default Piece image 

Researcher: Tracers Could Clear Up Fracking Controversy

From: Wyoming News Service
Length: 01:50
Want to find the “smoking gun” for domestic water well pollution near fracking in Wyoming? Put a tracer in fracking fluids. That’s one recommendation from a hydrologist who reviewed the EPA’s research that suggests a connection between gas production and water contamination at Pavillion. Comments from hydrologist Tom Myers.Read the full description.

Piece Description

PAVILLION, Wyo. - The best way to find the "smoking gun" is to follow the smoke to the tip of the barrel. A hydrologist makes that point after being hired by environmental groups to review the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) investigation that suggests a connection between hydraulic fracturing and groundwater contamination near Pavillion. 

Tom Myers found the EPA's science to be sound, but has several recommendations. One is to put a tracer in fracking fluids to show a clear connection, or no connection, to pollution.

"You find that in a well and it's saying that is the only possibility. There's no arguing over attenuation, and there's no arguing over whether there were chemical reactions and what not."

He also recommends the EPA drill more test wells in the area. 

One complication is how long it might take fracking fluids to move upward. Myers says that depends on geology, and there's variability in the region. It's even possible that water contamination being discovered now could be connected to gas production decades ago, he adds.

"If the contamination reaching the domestic wells was introduced into the aquifer 40 years ago, but we've installed 169 wells over that 40-year period, it suggests that there could be a lot more, eventually, working its way up."

Myers has talked with families affected by contaminated water supplies. He says their concerns should be taken more seriously by the state, the EPA and drilling companies.

"I note the fact that a lot of people come out and say their water is contaminated and that they smell it. That just doesn't happen. They're not making it up, is the point."

He adds that many chemicals used in fracking are odorless and tasteless, so unless regular testing is taking place, no one would know they were being exposed.

All these tracers would be useful to determine the pathway of the fracking cocktails and assign liability but they do not solve the other problems that folks have raised--such as the increased methane in the water and the fact that water is being used promiscuously and being removed from the water cycle.  But let me deal with one problem at a time.
So many varieties of them that are all good it seems.
So why haven't the folks in the industry proven to us their assertion that fracking is so safe that there has never been an incident in Alberta that mucked up our water--such as the Jessica Ernst case?
Why have they taken the route of simply asserting without evidence?
Why has the industry simply said believe us and we will give you money?
I think the time is now for the industry to go beyond the chatter and get to the proof. Tracers would help. And certainly I want to know migration routes of fracking cocktails and see if there is comigration of methane along these routes. I also want to know how much water is being used for this sort of short term energy industry and what about the water that is dumped --that is unusable?  Can the dumped fracking flowback water be tracked with these tracers? As one person has pointed out to us above--there are additional costs of fracking that we are not focusing on as water is big ticket that gets us riled. But we need to consider these other problems:

Vincent Stewart
Aug 27, 2013 02:23 PM
Surface disturbance, water use, waste water storage (open and unlined pits), waste disposal etc. The reason technology like this is so easily embraced by the industry is that they will now be able to soothe public concerns about a relatively minor issue partially hiding other more widespread impacts.
Of the thousands of wells I was part of sampling, we never found frac-related groundwater contamination, yet every single well drilled produced thousands of gallons of under-regulated waste (they get hazardous waste exemptions) and permanently disrupted acres of primarily public land.
What are the regulations for the management of these other impacts?
I shall check into them.
As for the tracer companies, I think they will be popular simply because of the emotions associated with clean water.
Sure sounds like these tracer companies are going to do a roaring business once enough folks get educated on the impacts of fracking on their water. I mean these incidents might be rare. But certainly no one I know has managed to prevent human beings from making errors. So really there must be some fracking incidents that have contaminated water supplies. We just could not prove these events were related to industry work because of the failure of government to legislate water testing before fracking begins, then there is the failure of government to legislate the use of fracking tracers, and finally we have the collusion of the Tories in Alberta to make post-fracking water testing a sort of marathon event without any useful results.

You gotta admire the Tories.
They are knee deep in the fracking problems and they aren't interested in fracking tracers mucking with the poor reputation of the government and the energy regulator with proof positive of fracking contamination of water supply.
They'd rather have citizens drinking fracked water and have wells on fire in Rosebud than do their jobs.
And can anyone tell me how much water has been permanently taken out of the water cycle?
As for the dumping of the fracking flowback water--what the heck?
Dumping all this water underground without mapping if it comes up?
What sort of criminal oversight of the fracking industry do we have in Canada?

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