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Easy money may have consequences

December 15, 2011
Morning Journal News


The drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking, used to release gas and oil from deep Marcellus and Utica Shale deposits in Ohio and Pennsylvania, is like a tidal wave of tsunami proportions heading our way.

Some say it will create much needed jobs, boost the economy and revive communities with untold tax dollars. No doubt it will. Many individuals and communities consider the money received from leases manna from Heaven. No doubt it is. Still others caution, "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch." That, too, is true.

Before we are totally swept away by this bonanza, let us consider some facts. It takes about five million gallons of water to fracture a well. Ohio has plenty of water, no problem. Brine, the byproduct of the hydraulic fracturing drilling process is water laced with chemicals of an undisclosed composition. Ohio does not require disclosure of the chemicals being used as does Wyoming, for instance.

This water/chemical mixture is forced down very deep wells under great pressure to extract the gas/oil from the shale deposits. Some of the brine remains in the ground, but a great portion is retrieved as waste water. The big question is: What is going to happen to the waste water?

In a perfect world, the drilling companies would build treatment plants - creating yet more jobs - to extract the chemicals and make the water potable again or recycle the water to be used to drill more wells. We all know that isn't going to happen.

So exactly what is going to happen to these millions and millions of gallons of water? Is it going to be dumped into streams, rivers or lakes? Is it going to be dumped into old stripper cuts? Is it going to be pumped down old mine shafts? Where is it going? Does anyone have a plan? Who is going to pick up the tab? The companies who are making billions of dollars? The taxpayer? And what government and/or private regulatory group is going to be monitoring to see that this waste water is being disposed of responsibly?

Another big question: Who is going to repair the roads which will be pulverized with all the heavy drilling rigs and water tankers running water to/from the drilling sites? The drilling companies? The taxpayer?

Villages, cities, townships, landowners, beware of what you sign just to get that easy check. There will be serious mopping up to do when the drilling is gone and who will do it? You?

Dorothy Herbert

East Palestine



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