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View Diary: Fact Checking Josh Fox/Gasland #2; Oil/Gas Industry NOT Exempt from Clean Air/Clean Water Acts (133 comments)

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  •  Failure of surface management practices? (6+ / 0-)

    I think you may have a point, the movie might have simplified the legal situation until it reached an inaccurate statement. There's clearly a complex set of laws involved, and knowing which one applies to which operation is a real problem where experts are often needed.

    But you bring up a simple case where we know there's a problem: groundwater gets contaminated with methane in areas where fracking operations are happening. You describe this as a failure of surface management best practices, and I think that may be a fair categorization. These companies know how to prevent such problems, the engineering tools exist to prevent them, but they are not actually applying the solutions properly?

    But surely this type of failure must be covered by some law or another, right? After all, if you destroy the groundwater supply for a home or for a community, there must be legal consequences, right?

    It seems like we either have a lack of laws protecting groundwater, or we've got companies that must be breaking a law somewhere along the line, right?

    Perhaps the problem is enforcement of laws, rather than a lack of coverage?

    •  Methane in groundwater and aqueous pollutants in (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dkmich, Ashaman, Adam AZ, marina

      groundwater are two distinct and different things and it is necessary to address the phenomenology and causation of each separately as a physical phenomenon.

      The first line of response to evaluating a situation where methane occurs in the groundwater wells is to determine whether is is biogenic vs. thermogenic methane, which is done through review of the proportion of carbon isotopes in the sample as well as detection of non-methane chemical species.   If thermogenic methane is detected it may have occurred as a result of breach of or inadequate cementing of the well.

      In aquifers suitable for drinking water that exist above the upper confining layer, pollution of such groundwater can occur from a surface discharge to groundwater from a spill of hydraulic fracturing fluid or process wastewater at the well pad or from a failure of portions of the wellbore cement installation.

      Yes, stringent regulation and inspection is necessary to order to ensure that operators do not violate rules binding on the drilling and completion of natural gas and oil wells.  In particular, the supervision, evaluation and accountability of how well cementing and well completion operations are conducted is a crucial matter requiring close attention by regulators.

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