Fossil Fuels: Fracking Up Again

Pictured is a hydro-fracking overflow pond in Pennsylvania, clearly good for our environment...(fistful of sarcasm). Photo courtesy of 'airmoore' under Flickr's creative commons license.
Author: Travis Leipzig

Exactly one year after the BP Deepwater Horizon catastrophe, the fossil fuel industry is at it again. Late Tuesday night a natural gas drilling well located next to Loyalsock State Forest in Pennsylvania ruptured, spilling thousands of gallons of contaminated water across nearby farms and into a neighboring stream.

The Huffington Post reported:

Francis Roupp, deputy director of the county emergency management agency, told AP that there were no injuries, and that although fluids have reached a small stream, "no adverse effects" have been reported.

Roupp suggests a cracked well casing could be the culprit behind the fracking spill, but that certain details won't be known until the situation is under control. reports that seven families have been evacuated as a result of the spill.

Pictured below is a warning sign outside of one of Pennsylvania's hydro-fracking overflow pond (pictured at the top right). The sign warns of possible combustion if open flames or burning cigarettes go beyond the sign.

After two days of nonstop flowing of a mixture of oil, water and an assortment of hazardous chemicals, Chesapeake Energy officials have reported that the leak has been plugged. 'With what?' you might ask. USA Today reported that:

Well-control specialists pumped ground-up tires, plastic bits and rubber material into the well to plug the leak. They were to pump heavy mud into the hole to kill the well and replace the malfunctioning wellhead.

I'm sure those 'non-existent' adverse effects of the spill on the riparian habitat of the stream as well as the groundwater are sure to be uncovered shortly as more water quality studies on the surrounding areas are carried out.

Unfortunately the cocktail of chemical additives used to help split apart cracks in the earth to retrieve the natural gas is most likely not available to the public, as hydro-fracking has been effectively exempt from the clean water act, protecting the fossil fuel industry from having to disclose their 'trade secret' additives. Click here for a list of some of the chemical additives released by a natural gas drilling company in Wyoming.

The day following the spill in PA, the U.S. Department of Energy released a Natural Gas Update, that stated that on Wednesday, Aril 20th, the Henry Hub spot price for natural gas rose at most market locations by about 19 cents. The report guesses that the price jump is related to a wave of cooler temperatures across the US (which could probably be tied to climate change as typically we would see temperature increases with the coming of spring ans summer...), resulting in greater consumption of gas for heating. Could the price increase actually be related to the spill that happened the day prior?

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