New website tracks oil fracking operations, chemicals

May 2, 2011 | Energy, EPA, Training

There’s a new resource available on the topic of hydraulic fracturing, an area of emerging concern for drinking water protection.

FracFocus.org , a registry for hydraulic fracturing chemicals, is a joint project of the Ground Water Protection Council and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission. The website includes information on the chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process as well as general educational materials.

Site visitors can browse fracturing regulations by individual state, view chemicals used and even search information for specific wells. The information is limited however, since it is voluntarily supplied by companies with hydraulic fracturing operations.

More commonly known as “fracking,” hydraulic fracturing uses chemicals to loosen and recover natural gas from wells pocketed inside coal beds and shale rock formations. Fracking is potentially harmful to drinking water resources due to a lack of regulation about what chemicals can be injected underground. The EPA Safe Drinking Water Act does not prohibit the underground injection of fluids or other agents required for oil or gas fracking operations.

Democrats in the US House of Representatives released a report on April 16 that identified 750 substances used during fracking operations from 2005-2009.

So, while it provides only some answers on a complex and emerging topic, FracFocus.org is a good starting point for small utility managers in beginning to understanding and monitor the effects of fracking on drinking water systems.

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