At the risk of being totally flamed, and I have not seen the documentary Gasland, as counterpoint over 1 million wells in the US have been hydro fraced. The score card regarding water aquifer contamination and fracing indicate that there is no direct link between the two. So, how in the heck, were they able to put together such a damning documentary regarding hydro fracing?
What has been captured on film must have some degree of credibility and merit I would believe. It's possible that the cementing job that was done on some wells where cementing the steel casing which would separate the well bore from the water table was lousy and hydrocarbons migrated from the well bore into the water table. Shouldn't happen , but apparently it has in isolated cases.
The gas industry will continue to have to meet more stringent regulations and that should not be an issue. Fresh water is a tremendously valuable resoure we need to protect. I live here in Pa. in the heart of the Marcellus and sell the frac chemicals that are used in hydraulic fracturing. I continue to read about benzene , arsenic and the toxicity of the fracturing chemicals. When you frac and in a typical Marcellus frac the volume of water being pumped to carry the proppant is anywhere between 3 million to 8 million gallons of water, the flowback (recovery of that water ) is typically 30%-40% of that volume.
What is never mentioned is the fact that in Pa. many of these wells are very rich in gas fluids - condensate which can have high levels of benzene. In some formations there is also a high level of barium and strontium. So , mother earth, when opened up when drilled and fraced is a source of toxic substances.
The frac chemicals being used here in the Marcellus as well as the Barnett, and Haynesville shale plays is pretty tame (non toxic chemistries) consisting of a polymer friction reducer so a high pumping rate can be maintained, a water flowback additive that is a soap- surfactant, along with a polymer scale inhibitor, and a biocide to kill micobio (bugs) that is 99% depleted in approx 24 hours.
Some gas producers have already posted on their website a complete disclosure of the chemicals being used.
So lots of emotion on this subject and there needs to be regulations that protect our natural resources. Newest Dept of Environmental law here in Pa. is that all frac flow back water that is discharged in waterways needs to meet a max. 500 total dissolved solids level , which is pretty stringent regulation that will be complied with.
From my perspective, here in the NE the gas industry has a pretty good track record and tighter and tighter regulations to protect the environment will be forthcoming . Technologies exist and are being developed which will allow for the nw regulations to be met.
The track record of the gas industry is vey stellar when compared to the coal industry and acid mine drainage and the pollution that has occurred in waterways. I believe in the next two years we will see the gas industry begin to use acid mine drainage waters as frac water makeup contibuting in a very positive way to utilizing a waste that has been a scourge to preservation of clean waterways.