“It’s Just Saltwater” = “It’s Just Steam”

by jim on February 16, 2012

Senior House Energy and Commerce Committee member Democrat Henry Waxman of California and other House Dems released a report on fracking the other day that deserved more attention than it got. Using data that the last (Democratically-controlled) Congress required oil and gas companies to submit concerning the ingredients and volumes of chemicals used in fracking during the period from 2005 to 2009, the report produced a wealth of new information, including: 1)“The 14 leading oil and gas service companies used more than 780 million
gallons of hydraulic fracturing products
, not including water added at
the well site. Overall, the companies used more than 2,500 hydraulic
fracturing products containing 750 different chemicals and other
2) “The components used in the hydraulic fracturing products ranged from
generally harmless and common substances, such as salt and citric acid,
to extremely toxic substances, such as benzene and lead.
3) Between 2005 and 2009, the oil and gas service companies used hydraulic
fracturing products containing 29 chemicals that are known or possible
human carcinogens,
regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA)
for their risks to human health, or listed as hazardous air pollutants
under the Clean Air Act.
4) Many of the hydraulic fracturing fluids contain chemical components that
are listed as “proprietary” or “trade secret.” The companies used 94
million gallons of 279 products that contained at least one chemical or
component that the manufacturers deemed proprietary
or a trade secret.
In many instances, the oil and gas service companies were unable to
identify these “proprietary” chemicals, suggesting that the companies
are injecting fluids containing chemicals that they themselves cannot
During the Dallas Gas Drilling Task Force meeting, there has often been discussion of “salt water” injection wells, or spills of “essentially salt water.” This is a canard. It is the liquid equivalent of what the cement companies used to say about the thick plumes of pollution pouring out of their smokestacks – “It’s just steam.” No. It’s not. And the hazardous waste the gas industry uses for fracking fluid and must dispose of in deep underground injection wells because of its toxicity is not “just saltwater.” You can download a copy of the report at the link.

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