Oil & Gas Commission balks at report alleging illegal fracking practices
LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - A new report raises concerns about fracking in the Natural State. The report conducted by the Environmental Integrity Project claims that dozens of hydraulic fracturing wells in Arkansas are drilling with diesel illegally. The state Oil and Gas Commission said the report is flawed and there's no reason for concern.
Fracking is big business in Arkansas, but a report entitled, Fracking Beyond the Law, alleges that some companies are cutting corners when it comes to hydraulic fracturing.
"Without obtaining a Safe Drinking Act permit, injection of diesel is against the law," said Mary Greene, author of the report.
The report released by the Washington, D.C. based organization reported that 168 wells, predominantly operated by a subsidiary of Southwestern Energy, were using diesel product to extract natural gas from the Fayetteville Shale. According to the data used for the report, the company was using kerosene in a corrosion inhibitor in order to drill.
"This is first and foremost a public health issue," said Greene. "Injecting diesel to frack wells threatens drinking water supplies and human health."
But Lawrence Bengal, director of the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission, said these companies were doing nothing illegal. He points out that the companies were using kerosene, which the EPA didn't list as a diesel fuel until February 2014. Since then, Bengal mentioned the state has made sure companies aren't using diesel for drilling purposes anymore.
"We constantly review [the list of chemicals] especially since 2014, February of this year, to ensure that the particular CAS number of kerosene or the other four that were listed in the US-EPA report aren't being used in Arkansas," said Bengal.
And Bengal said there's no need for concern - harping on how fracking wells are constructed in Arkansas.
"There's four layers of protections keeping the well fluids or whatever is in the well from the freshwater," said Bengal. "So I have no concern at all that there's any reason to believe that contamination could have occurred."
Representatives from Southwestern Energy released this statement regarding the report released by the Environmental Integrity Project:
"The data included in the referenced report is from data released in a 2012 article by Mike Soraghan at E&E News in August 2012.
A corrosion inhibitor containing kerosene was utilized by a service company on these wells. The corrosion inhibitor was added to the water-based fracturing fluid.
In early EPA guidance, diesel was not defined. In mid-2012, EPA provided a definition of diesel that included kerosene. In February 2014, EPA released its guidance document on diesel use, which included the definition of diesel. Southwestern Energy stopped the use of chemical additives, which were defined as diesel based on the EPA definition in 2012.
Southwestern Energy is committed to producing natural gas in a safe and environmentally responsible manner. At Southwestern Energy, we work closely with local, state and federal agencies to ensure our operations comply with all regulations. We understand these regulations are important because they protect the communities in which we work and live."