Hydrofracking - are we nuts? (OT)

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Jingy

climber
Somewhere out there
Apr 25, 2013 - 05:45pm PT
http://grist.org/news/radioactive-frack-waste-quarantined-at-pa-dump-turned-away/?utm_campaign=daily&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&kmi=robbertken2008@mac.com


Fracking waste deemed too radioactive for hazardous-waste dump

By John Upton


A truck carrying fracking waste was quarantined and then sent back to where it came from after its contents triggered a radiation alarm at a Pennsylvania hazardous-waste landfill. The truck’s load was nearly 10 times more radioactive than is permitted at the dump in South Huntingdon township.

The radiation came from radium 226, a naturally occurring material in the Marcellus Shale, which being fracked for natural gas in Pennsylvania and nearby states. “Radium is a well known contaminant in fracking operations,” writes Jeff McMahon at Forbes.


From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

Township Supervisor Mel Cornell said the MAX Environmental Technologies truck was quarantined Friday after it set off a radiation alarm at MAX’s landfill near Yukon, a 159-acre site that accepts residual waste and hazardous waste.

[Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection] spokesman John Poister confirmed the drill cutting materials from Rice Energy’s Thunder II pad in Greene County had a radiation level of 96 microrem.

The landfill must reject any waste with a radiation level that reaches 10 microrem or higher.

“It’s low-level radiation, but we don’t want any radiation in South Huntingdon,” Cornell said.

Poister said DEP instructed MAX to return the materials to the well pad where it was extracted for subsequent disposal at an approved facility.

Pennsylvania is currently studying radiation issues associated with fracking of the shale and disposal of the industry’s waste.




 Yeah…. Let me hear another "It's totally safe" argument….
nature

climber
Boulder, CO
Jun 1, 2013 - 06:54pm PT
bump.

Apparently the Boulder County Board of Supervisors has been bought out and they have lifted the moratorium on fracking in Boulder County.

A huge battle is building and I'm a part of it.

Ridiculous.
wilbeer

Mountain climber
honeoye falls,ny.greeneck alleghenys
Jun 1, 2013 - 07:18pm PT
It really sucks in your backyard.
On the prairie or up the mountain?
couchmaster

climber
pdx
Jun 1, 2013 - 08:35pm PT
Regarding Dr Steven Chu, former director of the Dept of Energy:
"Of course, curiously, fracking wasn't shut down or even slowed down by him and his hires. Clearly he didn't consult (any of) you about it or perhaps he would have. But all he had was a damned fine brain, a Doctorate, extensive work in physics, he was the Director of the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, where he led the lab in pursuit of alternative and renewable energy technologies. He also taught at the University of California as a Professor of Physics and Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology. Previously, he held positions at Stanford University and AT&T Bell Laboratories.

His research in atomic physics, quantum electronics, polymer and biophysics includes tests of fundamental theories in physics, the development of methods to laser cool and trap atoms, atom interferometry, and the study of polymers and biological systems at the single molecule level. While at Stanford, he helped start Bio-X, a multi-disciplinary initiative that brings together the physical and biological sciences with engineering and medicine.

The dude is the holder of 10 patents, and has published ~250 scientific and technical papers. He remains active with his research group and has recently published work on general relativity, single molecule biology, biophysics and biomedicine, and on scientific challenges and opportunities in clean energy. Over 30 alumni of his research group have gone on to become distinguished professors and have been recognized by dozens of prizes and awards.

Dr. Chu is a member of numerous honorific societies including the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Academia Sinica, the Korean Academy of Sciences and Technology, and is an honorary member of the Institute of Physics, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and a Lifetime Member of the Optical Society of America. He received an A.B. degree in mathematics, a B.S. degree in physics from the University of Rochester, and a Ph.D. in physics from the University of California, Berkeley, as well as 23 honorary degrees. and in fact had recieved the NobelFRIKKANPrize for Physics work. BUT HE WAS TOO STUPID TO CONSULT (any of) YOU ABOUT HOW HORRIBLE FRACKING IS SO FRACKING WILL JUST CONTINUE UNABATED. ..."
nature

climber
Boulder, CO
Jun 1, 2013 - 09:28pm PT
not exactly sure where - mostly open space lands and probably along the range front (fault zones). Boulder County is pretty small.
wilbeer

Mountain climber
honeoye falls,ny.greeneck alleghenys
Jun 2, 2013 - 05:59am PT
Couch,thanks for that ,is he still there?

He and the present admin want fracking ,to increase the use HERE ,to bridge the gap between now and future fuel/energy technology,i.e. replace coal.

Is that happening?

Meanwhile we have become the second largest exporter of fossil fuels.

Recently the port of Philadelphia has reopened for buisness,to export LNG .

Trust in Fossil Fuel Corporations is dangerous.So please tell me how this is strengthening the US's energy future?
Jingy

climber
Somewhere out there
Jun 2, 2013 - 07:26am PT
Nature - how long before you start tasting the tainted water?

Personally, at least with fracking, we have taken a step back socially.

One group of people from the industry made so many people without knowledge of these things that it was a good idea to go searching for gold down where the water stays….


Never a good idea, in my view
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Jun 2, 2013 - 07:41am PT
This is not frac water. This was drill cuttings. When you drill an 8 inch hole for 5000 horizontal feet, it is quite a bit. In most places it is just covered and buried in the pit, because in verticals this never happens.

I will have to check in on this, because there are thousands of Marcellus wells and this is the first one to have high radioactivity, which is common in certain areas. The Marcellus actually outcrops over a large area, so that rock is in the aquifer that people have been using for centuries.

The drilling in the Denver Julesberg Basin targets the Niobrara formation, which is a much younger and much different rock. The Niobrara has turned out to be kind of a bust. It is really only good in the Wattenburg field, which consists of thousands of wells around Denver up to just east of Boulder. Not IN Boulder.

I'll check on this. I don't work the Marcellus up in the NE, where this is, but I do work with other shales, and this doesn't happen.

I'm leary about this, because so many thousands of wells have drilled through the Marcellus, and there is a lot of hysteria over it. I'm sure right now that everyone is checking the drill cuttings. If it is at that level, it will have to be taken to a hazardous waste landfill. My wife regulates those. It is more expensive to use a hazardous landfill, but in the 9 million dollar cost of these wells, it is just a nuisance.

Remember. This isn't from water. This is from the actual rock cuttings that are circulated up and separated from the mud stream. I have sat at least a couple of hundred wells, and the geologist looks at samples gathered at every ten feet.

The only real NORM problem that has occurred, is in the Permian Basin. Almost every single oil well produces associated saltwater, and over the years you can get scale buildup inside the production tubing, which isn't casing. It turned out that this scale from one zone was highly radioactive. The old tubing, which has to be replaced every decade or two, had built up a very radioactive scale, but it took many years to build up.

So all of that tubing, which had been used for fences and even things like swing sets, had to be found and disposed of properly.

Frac fluid is only in the formation for a few weeks. Most of it comes flowing back in the first few days. I've never heard of radioactive frac fluid.

This is a huge concern in the exploration industry, because public perception, even if it is false, has an impact. Right now we are seeing the really big companies coming in and buying out the smaller guys. The big companies have the resources to handle almost anything. If the Macondo blowout had happened on land, it would have been controlled within a few days, and could have been cleaned up.

Over the past few years, the flowback fluid has been recycled and used over and over again instead of purchasing clean fresh water, which is a big expense. The service companies now have "green" frac fluids that don't contain any toxic materials, and in general have been dealing with the problems that are unique to the Marcellus, which lies in Pennsylvania and associated areas.

These big stage fracs have been under a lot of scrutiny. You or anybody can go out to the pit and take samples of the flow back fluid, and this has been done many times. This case has nothing to do with the fluid. It was the actual rock that comes up in the drilling. I've NEVER heard of this before, but the shales are more radioactive than other shales. One of our logging tools is a gamma ray scintillomiter, and is run on modern wells. We know how radioactive the rock is that we are drilling through, and in all of the mid continent and rocky mountain basins (which are not "in the mountains.")

Everyone here knows how green I am, and if this isn't a spiked load of cuttings, it will have to dealt with. It isn't radioactive waste type radioactivity. It is just above the line for type one landfills.

The drill cuttings, if this pans out, will now have to be examined.

This is in the Marcellus, which is upper Devonian. The zone in eastern Colorado is the Niobrara, which has been produced for decades in vertical wells. Underneath the Denver area, the geothermal gradient is higher because it is in line with the Colorado Mineral Belt. The Niobrara is failing in most places other than the Wattenburg Field, so the whole Niobrara is very patchy. It isn't thermally mature in most other areas. There is a small place in the Powder River that I know of, but it is pretty small. Shales are really high tech, and I'm learning about the geomechanics, chemistry, capillary pressure and lots of other stuff that.

Do you guys know the association with Young's modulus and Poisson's ratio? These shales are examined with electron microscopes, x-ray diffraction, and the mineralogy is well understood. Every shale is a little different, and there is a learning curve to make economic wells.

I'm bummed today because a buddy of mine and his son were killed in the El Reno tornado two days ago. This guy was huge in the meteorology community, Nobody can believe that he was killed chasing. He did a lot of important work with Texas Tech on windspeeds and damage, along with successfully planting instruments that were hit by tornadoes, something that only he could pull off after zillions of attempts. His son and partner died with them when a tornado veered its course and caught them in their car, sending it flying and killing all three.
Jingy

climber
Somewhere out there
Jun 2, 2013 - 08:08am PT
Base….

You are totally biased being a worker in the industry. Not totally sure how much weight we're supposed to put in your "Its all safe" call.

One question: Can you say with certainty that every frac operation is run to your exacting standards and integrity?

If not, then you cannot say that everything is always safe with any sincerity.
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
Jun 2, 2013 - 08:27am PT
You are totally biased being a worker in the industry.

I'm not sure if your bias detecto-meter is working so hot there Jingy. What I just read in Bases post didn't raise a whole lot of red flags of bias and in fact I believe he indicated he was a bit puzzled by this development and he intends to look into it.

If Base possesses "total bias" he does a ferociously good job of concealing it, not just in that last post but damn near everything he writes. Of course the only people who can know for sure are his professional peers. Still you gotta wonder how you arrive at your "total bias" assessment. Or is it simply because he works in the industry?



10b4me

Ice climber
Jun 2, 2013 - 08:34am PT
Base, sorry to hear about your friends.
My condolences to you, and the family.
Jingy

climber
Somewhere out there
Jun 2, 2013 - 08:56am PT
Bruce - Right, I guess I too have allowed my anti-frac bias to get the better of me, in that I read Base to be pro-frac at all costs. Yes, he will look into something further, but in the meantime let the fracking continue regardless of the consequences to the people and the environment the people live in.

It's almost like reading the idea that spins the commercials that suggest that there are no problems in drilling for oil i the gulf and how much better the place is because of the drilling… I haven't been to the south, but from what I've heard there are more people down there on some kind of public assistance than anywhere else in the country.

If it (the frac) was really safe, there would be no need to report anything. We never hear stories on the people that continue to breath as this is what people do. Never hear the story about the numerous cars that start every day… That's just how things work. And if fracing were truly safe we would have never heard about it because life would have continued without a hitch. But as it stands there seems to be enough of the bad news so as to outweigh the good news, not to mention who false the claims of "making a community all better" economically.
nature

climber
Boulder, CO
Jun 2, 2013 - 10:58am PT
I agree with Bruce. I've always appreciated Base for what he contributes.

We do get blinded when we stand for a cause and we have to be careful about that.

My teachers points out that in his tradition their approach is to look at all the positives and benefits and ways that other opinions might be right before taking it apart. I think often times the approach is to understand deeply your opinion on something (fracking, clear cutting, whatever) and use those strengths to tear down the opposition *before* understanding fully the oppositions strengths. The inherit problem there is if you are proven wrong you undermine not only the point you are trying to make but also your broader goals.

Base - do you have any information regarding the fracking that is looking to begin probably starting June 11th here in Boulder Country? (June 10th is when the moritorium is lifted).
HighTraverse

Trad climber
Bay Area
Jun 2, 2013 - 01:46pm PT
The Monterey Shale, running southeast of San Francisco at an average depth
of 11,000 feet
There are already low producing oil wells in the Santa Cruz mtns. The nearest me are adjacent to Castle Rock State Park and about 3 hawk miles away. There are others between La Honda and San Gregorio.

WHOOOEEEEE......I can lease out my little spot of paradise and get rich!
I've just changed my mind. Let The Fracking Begin!
sharperblue

Mountain climber
San Francisco, California
Jun 2, 2013 - 08:33pm PT
Very sorry to hear about your friends, Base - I'm really enjoying lurking and reading this one - brings back a lot of memories of the oil and gas wells drilled into the Devonian shale on my parent's land when I was 4 years old in the West Virginia hills.

Read Sinclair's 'Oil' a few years back and was absolutely amazed at how little had changed in the process of drilling from 1920's to the 70's. looking back at the family pics from those days makes it look like they were using the same equipment!

I remember the strange grey fracking waste was pumped into a pit that was then covered over; nothing at all grew in those filled pits for years and years
couchmaster

climber
pdx
Jun 2, 2013 - 09:30pm PT
Jesus, the stupid Rubes in the White house have screwed the pooch again! This time the idiots have selected ANOTHER (see Dr Chu note above) PRO FRACKING HACK, a guy who is a MIT physicist no less (Ernest Moniz) to be the next Secretary of Energy.

Are they all just that stupid? He wants MORE electricity, cheaper. Where are they getting all these idiots? They clearly are not familiar with this web site, or they would be against fracking. Sh#t, do they just give about anyone a Doctorate these days? Sorry boys, looks like the new sheriff in town wants you to PAY LESS for electricity, which in turn will add shitloads of new jobs throughout the country as the cost to Mfg decreases, and you'll breath cleaner air while all that crap occurs. No way around it, they seem intent on cleaning up the environment by MORE fracking, not less. Ya can't even turn around and vote in the republicans either.

“Mr. Moniz has been supportive of nuclear power, clean coal as well as renewable energy. He is perhaps best known for a study published by MIT on the future of natural gas, which was presented to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources in 2011.”

“It’s cheap, there’s lots of it and there’s lots of it in places with high demand, namely the U.S., China and India,” says co-author and M.I.T. physicist Ernest Moniz. “Sequestration,” he adds, “is a key enabling technology for coal use in a carbon-constrained world.”

“The world needs both more electricity and less pollution. The goals are not incompatible, but the solution will require better management of demand, smarter use of coal as well as renewable energy sources, and increased use of nuclear power.”

Clearly the academics don't know sh#t about shinola these days. Pfft, pro-fracking and he's a Doctorate from MIT.
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Jun 2, 2013 - 09:50pm PT
There are a ton of little gas wells that have been drilled in and produce from the Marcellus. There is a town in Pennsylvania where back in the olden days, they drilled incredibly shallow wells to light the town. This is also where the water caught fire in the movie Gasland. He didn't show the water from the other 4000 people in the town who deal with the same thing and have since day one.

I'm not proanything that trashes aquifers or makes people sick.

This all started in the Marcellus Shale in the Northeast. There have been no problems of any significance in the thousands of horizontals in the Woodfod Shale in the Arkoma Basin, the Anadarko Basin, or the Sherman Marieta Basin.

All I'm saying is that there is a ton of misinformation out there. Casing leaks for example. We have been dealing with those for decades. In parts of Kansas, there is a sandstone called the Cedar Hills formation. It is full of saltwater, but it is corrosive for some reason, and if you don't run an uphole cement tool to cement across it, you will get a casing leak within a few years and lose your well.

I take offense to you calling me biased. For the past five years I have been working limestone and dolomite reservoirs. Not shales, but I go to the meetings and see a ton of data.

So the general public is scared of this. Although we know that most of this stuff is so stupid that a one year geologist knows it is bunk, that doesn't matter anymore. The big companies who do a lot of this are doing all sorts of stuff that isn't necessary just to prove that the wells are safe.

I spent a year at Chesapeake, who was drilling more shale gas wells than any other company, and they had an entire hydrology and groundwater division that studied the aquifers in the Marcellus. They did pre-drilling sampling of all nearby water wells, and drilled monitoring wells. They didn't have to do it, but they spent a ton of money on it. Nobody wants a problem.

If you are going to call me biased, well you are wrong. I get to see microseismic, which records each fracture and where it is in relation to the wellbore. I've never seen a fracture get more than 100 feet out of zone.

These shales aren't everywhere, and many shales aren't suitable. The productive shales produce from silica rich layers that have clay rich ductile layers between them. The frac science is designed to frac the silica rich zone, because you can't frac the ductile shales. They have to be brittle to take a frac. The economic trends in the shales are usually 10 or 20 miles wide and maybe several hundred miles long. A lot of it has to do with thermal maturity of the Type II kerogen. It has to have been heated to a certain point for these organic rich shales to source the gas in the whole basin.

Right now I am reading everything about shales, because I am probably going to work in the Bakken in North Dakota, where all of the farmers are millionaires.

The U.S. has produced more oil than the reserves of any other country on the planet besides Saudi Arabia. There are so many wells in the producing basins that a map of them looks like a bird shot pattern. The wells that cause problems are the ones up to about 1965. They didn't have to case off the groundwater, which has been mapped in every state. They also didn't plug them worth a damn. Today, plugging standards are far tougher, but the thing is, plugging it properly is not expensive at all.

All of these basins have gas production dating back to he twenties or thirties. The gas shales are deep. 8000 to 12000 feet. The thickest one I know of is 400 feet. It is overlain by a sedimentary sequence that is thousands of feet thick. The typical sedimentary sequence is 90% shale, but not the organic rich shale that is brittle enough to be fracked, and it doesn't carry organics to begin with.

I was on a rig once when the operator let the mudpit overflow. I was woken by a very irate inspector, and happily gave him the home phone number of the operator, leadint to a fine, although it wasn't a toxic release. I never worked for them again.

I'm desperate to get off of hydrocarbons. I believe in global warming, because these organic rich shales were deposited in anoxic conditions cause by ocean acidification, which was caused by CO2 forced hothouse conditions just like we are doing.

Natural gas is by far the lowest carbon fuel, but our country has a huge gullet for oil. We now import over half of what we use. The dream has always been to switch to natural gas instead of oil as a transportation fuel. Transportation fuel is by far the biggest use of oil.

We totally waste the stuff, and it is sickening. We have a nigh endless supply of natural gas. The problem is that alternatives are much more expensive. People look the other way and fill up their big trucks that they don't need, and drive them around every day with only one person in the truck.

I just understand fracks. We have been fracking wells for many decades, and haven't had any problems that I'm aware of. Jinghy doesn't understand the science of wellbore design, reservoir pressure (which is low in the shales), geochemistry, rock mechanics, anything. I deal with this every day of my life.

I'm not biased. I'm just saying something that he doesn't want to hear.
couchmaster

climber
pdx
Jun 3, 2013 - 05:49am PT
Base said:
"So the general public is scared of this"

MIT PHd holder nuclear physicist and current Sec. of Energy Moniz isn't.

Say what you will about Obama, he has a good grasp on how important energy is to the country and has acted in our long term interest. His avoidance of political hacks as sec of Energy via selecting intelligent folks who have both book smarts and real smarts is an example. This nomination is an awesome choice. Boosting the CAFE standards as one of his first acts when elected was the very first example.

Of course, holding a Phd is no panacea you are not a stupid douchbag, look at Weschrist for instance, but it's better than hiring an ignorant hack like Bill Richardson.
wilbeer

Mountain climber
honeoye falls,ny.greeneck alleghenys
Jun 3, 2013 - 06:12am PT
While i will agree Couch, with the above,i for one ,do not believe fracking at the headwaters of 3 major wataersheds in pa,is a very smart agenda.
That water supplies millions of peoples needs.
5000 wells less than 100 miles from my house,NG prices have only risen.
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Jun 3, 2013 - 07:09am PT
Obama has been quite friendly to the domestic oil and gas industry. These are the companies that drill onshore.

You have to calm down and be rational.

I am crazy against drilling in ANWR. The hype over that is pure propaganda.

The propaganda doesn't come from the oil companies so much. The state of Alaska needs it to survive. They have no means of support other than the oil production coming down that pipeline.

I wrote a journal article about this a long time ago.
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