Wednesday, June 30, 2010

On the subject of microfracking chemicals, my father forwarded this link to me last night. I was looking through the list, and X-Cide 207 caught my eye - it's an industrial microbicide and fungicide, and is pretty nasty. It's explicitly labeled for fracking, and most of the rest of the chemicals look like similar biocides, industrial solvents, surfactants, and the like. Hrm, also Bio Clear 1000 and its relatives, which are also nasty microbicides - "slimacide", "algaecide", etc. Various caustic and acidic agents....

The nasty stuff looks like it is used to keep algaeal blooms from forming in the fracking circulatory system.

For the nasty stuff, it depends on concentrations, I suppose. This sort of stuff will be present in industrial brownfields. But as the article points out, these are all essentially trace substances in a slurry whose vast bulk is composed of the pure drinking-class water the Marcellus operators are extracting out of my industrial park's pumps. The list includes a number of rather dubious-looking environmentally-sensitive replacements for dirtier compounds. I say "dubious" because these sorts of substitutions tend to be less effective than the old poisons.

Eh, it's possible that somewhere down the line some of this stuff could get out into the general water table. But keep in mind that the old mines are volcanoes of nastier stuff all over this state's minefield regions, and all of them were cut right into the water-table, open sieves of heavy metal seepage. Even the worst case isn't going to be anything like the old mercury poisonings of the "golden age" of industrial mining operations. Heck, there are flooded, abandoned quarries all through this region with crystalline-clear water the color of nothing in nature - crystal-clear because nothing can live in the waters. I've been told that if you go swimming in some of them, you're going to get skin burns.


chromal said...

I know of some of the sterile water-filled quarries, but I suspect they're not all that sinister-- they're simply alkaline (basic, as opposed to acidic) from the limestone. The fracking chemicals slurry is more of a withes brew, and is being purposefully pumped down into the bedrock in a manner that, by design, means it will disperse. I have no idea how bad (or not) fracking really is, nor how many of the myriad horror stories emerging from places like the Colorado western slope and elsewhere are completely valid at face value, but I sure as hell wouldn't want it happening in my backyard.

Mitch H. said...

It's also being pumped back out for processing, supposedly. And Jason doesn't agree with you on the subject of the toxicity of those sterile water-filled quarries. In general, I'm more inclined to trust in modern, harassed corporations' environmental precautions than the precautions of early-twentieth-century quarrying companies with no-one to threaten to sue them, and only the prospect of wildcat strikes to keep them honest.

Hrm, come to think of it, I'm not even sure if the quarries were unionized.