Monthly Archives: November 2011

Cement Casing: The Weak Link of Fracking

By Bernhard Debatin

Recently, the EPA confirmed that “a pair of environmental monitoring wells drilled deep into an aquifer in Pavillion, Wyo., contain high levels of cancer-causing compounds and at least one chemical commonly used in hydraulic fracturing.” Although the EPA Groundwater Investigation of Nov. 9, 2011, only provided the raw data without interpretation, one can conclude that “the chemical compounds the EPA detected are consistent with those produced from drilling processes, including one — a solvent called 2-Butoxyethanol (2-BE) — widely used in the process of hydraulic fracturing.” (ProPublica, NOv. 10, 2011).

Moreover, another decisive result of this investigation is that the methane found in the aquifers was “at near-saturation levels (up to 19 mg/L)” and has a “similar isotopic signature to production gas” (EPA Presentation). This defeats the industry’s claim that methane in the groundwater is merely a natural occurrence and not caused by fracking, since methane from shallower layers has a different chemical makeup. Continue reading


Here’s why Ohio needs a moratorium on fracking

This is a slightly revised version of a piece that was originally published in the Reader’s Forum of the Athens News on Nov. 23, 2011.  

By Bernhard Debatin

In his column on fracking (Nov. 17), Athens NEWS Editor Terry Smith admits that he sits on the fence regarding this issue, partly out of contrariness and to provide balance in a debate that he perceives as lopsided. However, when the facts are not speaking for balance, then there’s no point in presenting a topic in a “balanced” way. Here are some facts that should inform the debate:

It is well known (and not even seriously disputed by the industry) that hydro-fracturing has a massive impact on the environment. A preliminary report from the Shale Gas Subcommittee of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board of Aug. 11, 2011, identifies four major areas of concern: Continue reading