Section Four Continued: More on Water Pollution

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As discussed Monday, there are several chemicals used in the fracking process. On the plus side, diesel fuel is regulated in its use in hydraulic fracturing — sort of.

Unlike other hydraulic fracturing fluids, diesel fuel is regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act. But that doesn’t mean those regulations are always followed. While many — including EPA staffers, it seems — believe that diesel fuel has fallen out of favor with the fracking community, the DENR Committee discovered in February 2010 that 12 of 14 oil and gas companies surveyed had pumped more than 30 million gallons of diesel fuel and diesel fuel-filled fracking fluid in wells in 19 states.  And most of those companies had done this without the permitting required by the Safe Drinking Water Act. Whoops.

But don’t worry; drinking dissolved methane won’t kill you. Breathing it, though, is another story, and in an enclosed environment — such as a house — it can be explosive.

There are also a number of hazardous air pollutants associated with the fracking industry and its processes, such as hydrogen fluoride, lead and methanol. Some of these sources of pollution are the equipment used on-site, such as combustion turbines, glycol dehydrators and storage vessels.

That’s it for the direct water pollution possibilities. Stay tuned tomorrow for more on section 4, and what else could go wrong.

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