Get the Most Important EcoNews Right in Your Inbox
If you’ve read our “What’s In My Frack Fluid” article, posted by David last week, you were probably disturbed to find out how many of the ingredients used in a typical hydraulic fracturing operation are unknown. We thought it might be a good idea to illustrate what 133 tons of chemicals (including 65 tons of unknown chemicals) looks like. So Paul and I got to work in Google Sketchup creating the Frack Family. The Fracks are an imaginary family who live near the very real Marcellus Shale natural-gas drilling and fracking site in Beaver County, Pennsylvania featured in David’s blog post. They agreed to let Chesapeake Energy store all the chemicals that were used at this frack site right on their lawn… such a sweet family.
We uploaded the Frack Family into Google Earth Pro and took some screenshots to help you visualize how many chemicals are being used, and more disturbingly, how many of those chemicals are what David calls “mystery” chemicals.
We’ll start off with an introduction to the Fracks and their dog, Rocky. Above, you can see them standing by a glowing green 42-gallon barrel that represents the 380 pounds of Ammonium Persulfate used in the fracking solution and a few of the 32 lavender colored barrels that represent nearly 6 tons of Potassium Hydroxide.
As we back up, shown below, you’ll notice 235 blue barrels to the right of the Fracks. These barrels represent the 41 tons of Hydrogen Chloride used to make hydrochloric acid.
Finally, the Frack Family would like to show you the number of chemicals for which no Chemical Abstract Service numbers are disclosed on the ingredients list–which is voluntarily provided by Chesapeake Energy Appalachia LLC via FracFocus.org. These “mystery” chemicals are represented below by 373 bright red barrels and weigh a total of approximately 65 tons. That is about half of all the chemicals used for this one fracking job, which is 1.7 percent of the total weight of the mixture used (the other 98.3 percent by weight being water and sand). We cannot be sure exactly what these chemicals are… but it’s only less than 1 percent of the frack job, right?
Joking aside: all of these chemicals had to be trucked onto the drilling site. That’s a lot of truckloads of chemicals, including hundreds of barrels of unknown substances, being hauled (in a hurry) over typically small, light-duty, winding country roads, past homes, businesses and schools. That’s pretty serious.