Safer Chemicals are Claimed to be Put into Use by Gas Drilling Companies

The practice of “fracking,” which is comprised of shooting water, sand and chemicals far underground to get natural gas is stirring up much controversy in Texas and across the rest of the country. The use of fewer and less dangerous chemicals has been the answer of some companies.

The drilling practice has been accused of contaminating the groundwater of nearby residents. Companies are eliminating some of the additives they have previously used, as well as using biodegradable friction reducer, all in addition to switching to environmentally safe chemicals. Bacteria from drilling fluid is also being eliminated by using UV light, instead of the chemical biocide that is usually utilised, and more low-toxicity chemicals are either being designed or are already in use.

Uncertainty however still looms over the efforts, as it is difficult to evaluate the actual effectiveness of the low-toxicity and biodegradable products. In addition, since the chemical concoctions are deemed as proprietary by the companies, and as a result kept secret, no concrete tests of the safer chemicals have been conducted.
With the nearby homeowners’ wells in perpetual danger of contamination, any effort, no matter how dubious is welcome. A “fracking” documentary film entitled “Gasland” has exposed images of the same homeowners igniting their tap water, and numerous protests have been organised.

Chemicals like ethylene glycol and guar gum are perfectly safe and are found in common household cleaners, according to the drilling companies. But the benzene, toluene, ethyl-benzene and xylene, which are also used by them are highly dangerous and potent. The companies have put forth the argument that the actual chemicals used, no matter how dangerous is insignificant since the “fracking” cocktail is 99% sand and water, and the actual chemicals are heavily diluted. Though the argument was awarded some merit, drilling and chemical companies have still taken notice to the rising wave of agitation over fracking. Aside from the environmental effects, the use of alternative chemicals is also cost-friendly, since harsh chemicals are generally expensive, said one of the companies’ representative.

The fact that fracking mixes are kept secret is however spurring much scepticism from the public. Nevertheless, one of the companies has recently agreed to release the list of ingredients that goes into their cocktail. As for the minuscule amounts of chemicals used, the sheer amount of water that fracking requires ensures the vast spread of the chemicals, no matter how diluted.

As the Environmental Protection Agency delved deeper into its research of fracking, irate drilling-area residents are growing ever-restless.