Tracer Fluids Would Fingerprint Gas Drillers

Posted February 18, 2011 by Jeff Prince in Blotch


The CSI: Crime Scene Investigation franchise, now in its 11 year, has been so popular for so long with its creative use of DNA analysis that I’m wondering why nobody pitched this idea before — establishing company-specific DNA for the natural gas industry in the Barnett Shale.

Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth filed a bill today that would gas drilling companies to use a unique tracer fluid in the fracturing process.

Sen. Wendy Davis

Sen. Wendy Davis

Currently, gas drillers set up a well site and shoot several million gallons of water laced with a variety pack of chemicals — don’t ask what all’s in it; it’s a secret — deep into the ground to fracture rock and force out natural gas. The flowback water is then discarded into deep injection wells.

During the drilling process, surrounding homeowners who rely on water wells for drinking and bathing sometimes complain that their water wells are fouled.  Drillers, without exception, deny responsibility. Homeowners who wish to take the companies to court can count on lengthy and expensive legal battles waged against teams of highly paid corporate attorneys.

“The goal of this legislation is to reduce the cost of legal burdens on the gas drilling industry or landowners when  questions of water contamination arise, while also demonstrating to a groundwater dependent public that drilling is safe,” Davis said.

Makes sense.

And she’s smart by touting the bill as a way to protect the gas drilling industry from false claims of groundwater contamination. If she ‘d trotted it out solely as a protection for homeowners, the bill would have been squashed by the 700-pound gorilla known as Big Oil.

Which is probably what will happen anyway.

One Comment

    Kim Feil

    CSI did a segment on a murder mystery regarding the secret fracking formula. It can be seen online.

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