Can Fracking Be Done Safely? New York Study Says Yes

fracking-new-yorkIt has recently been discovered that the process of hydraulic fracturing (commonly referred to as “fracking”) would not create a threat to public health as long as the proper safety measures were taken.  The February 2012 preliminary assessment from the New York State Department of Health (DOH) stated, “Significant adverse impacts on human health are not expected from routine HVHF,” otherwise known as high volume hydraulic fracturing.

Natural gas drilling has the potential of creating an enormous domestic energy supply, yielding approximately $1.4 billion in state and local tax revenue.  Although environmentalists are still opposed to fracking, Brad Gill, executive director of the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York, predicts New York will ultimately approve this process.

Gill stated, “We expect the administration will put an end to the continued stops and starts and allow our members, as well as Southern Tier landowners and businesses, to begin reaping the considerable benefits that expanded natural gas development will provide.”

This document was made public as Governor Cuomo was considering whether or not to lift the 4-year freeze on fracking, which was originally implemented to assess the effects.  The New York Department of Environmental Conservation believes that the report will not represent the state’s final decision, as it is over one year old.  Spokeswoman Emily DeSantis was quoted saying, “The document is nearly a year old and does not reflect final DEC policy.  The final [supplemental generic environmental impact statement] will reflect the review currently under way by DOH and its outside experts.  Once complete, DOH’s review will be shared as part of the overall…process.”

Despite the age of the document, the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York requested that Governor Cuomo and his administration lift the freeze since other states have successfully displayed that fracking can be conducted in a safe manner, one that protects public health as well as the environment.

The health department document recommends certain safety precautions.  For example, the water that flows out of the wells following the drilling process should be treated as if it were medical waste, which requires strict guidelines for disposal.

With so many conflicting views, making a final decision on hydraulic fracturing will be a complicated process.  Hopefully a verdict will be reached in 2013.

Sarah Battaglia
Energy Curtailment Specialists, Inc.

Sarah can be found on LinkedIn and Google+.

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  • Ted kidd

    It seems a major problem associated with hydro tracking is the hydro part. The chemicals in waste water causes living organisms to grow extra appendages.

    Why don’t we hear more about GAS fracking? Seems to address at least the waste water problems.

  • http://www.ebizireland.com Tom Doyle

    The statement ‘ significant adverse impacts on human health are not expected from routine HVHF’, could mean many things to many people.

    QI .How significant do impacts have to be to represent considerable adverse impacts ?
    Any adverse impacts on human health are going to cause problems for fracking operations.
    Q2 What WORKINGS are considered as routine HVFH.?
    The workings involved in fracking consist of substantial amounts of water and special sand as well as small amounts of chemicals .
    The process by which these materials are implanted into the rock surface to create the fracking and release of the gas are well documented – safety in this process should be capable of strict controls and counter controls in the event of leaks .
    The trapping of the gas and the release of the constituents used ( water , sand and chemicals) into the surrounding ground , where the constituents finish up and with what structures or elements , such as water aquifers they engage after release form the fracking process are the real questions which need to be answered and for which the public need re assurance .
    Do this and we can very likely proceed to utilise the massive energy provided by ‘ gas fracking’ .

  • Matt Redmond

    Please research the incident that occurred about 6 years ago at an exploratory well site in North Brookfield,Madison County, New York.
    In the incident when the exploratory well was fracked it caused numerous locaL residential water wells to release pressure through the homeowners wellheads. I was there and saw it with my own eyes. Geysers of water shooting 30 ft high out of my neighbors water wells.Subsequently the drilling company abandoned the site and after much delay was ordered by DEC to remediate the site and compensate the town residents. Is this what I have to look forward to?

  • Sarah Battaglia

    Hopefully a situation like the Madison County incident will never happen again. If NY does approve of fracking, we can be sure a strict set of rules will be implemented. Other states require that companies test equipment regularly, take precautions to prevent any seepage, and even monitor the wells after drilling has ended. As mentioned in the article, guidelines will be in place for the disposal of the remaining water. Companies will most likely be required to disclose detailed information such as the location of the well and exactly what fluids they will be injecting. While rules like these may not completely eliminate environmental harm, they will certainly help in preventing it.

    • Matt Redmond

      Sarah, As a former oil industry employee in both the production and refining end I am not automatically against hydrofracking. Presently I work as a federal and NYS contractor and the issue I see is that with continuing massive state government layoffs and retirements of senior staff positions at NYS departments including NYSDEC that there will not be enough boots on the ground to adequately monitor regulatory compliance. You can have great regulations but if there’s no one there to monitor compliance how to you keep the industry from taking shortcuts. Please review the Canadian Governments report on the oil industries noncompliance with regulatory requirements on the Tar Sands project. I’m concerned that there will be a lack of regulatory enforcement here in NYS leading to potential ground water contamination and other enviromental issues….

  • Sarah Battaglia

    Good point, Matt. Correct me if I’m wrong, but when more and more companies start fracking in new areas, they will most likely need more employees to drill the wells successfully. This goes back to one of the benefits many believe fracking will bring: new job creation. If there ARE enough people to follow all of these regulations, perhaps most of the state will be in good hands.

  • http://Fracking Al Smith

    My bet, ist the state and government need the money! That said, they’ve been doing fracking for well over 30-40 years…..my advice, get your head out of the sand and get behind this, if not NY may be on the ONLY state that does not approve it!

    In addition to that, on a national viewpoint…..this is our real chance to give us “energy independence ” as well. NY don’t be the last to adopt this….

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