First published in print: Monday, October 26, 2009
New York may become the first state in the nation to demand that in certain situations companies that drill in New York be required to report the concentrations of the chemicals they use to state regulators.
The rules would reveal information that environmental scientists say is essential to investigating water pollution from drilling.
New York's recently released review of the environmental risks of proposed natural gas production in the Marcellus Shale in the state's Southern Tier also offers the clearest picture yet of the chemicals used in the drilling process called hydraulic fracturing.
The document makes public the names of 260 chemicals, more than eight times as many as Pennsylvania state regulators have compiled. The list, the most complete released by any state or federal agency, could help answer concerns about hydraulic fracturing in Congress and in states where gas drilling has increased in recent years.
The industry has been reluctant to release information about the chemicals it uses because it considers them trade secrets. While New York has made the names of the chemicals public, it seems likely the data about their concentration will be shared only with state officials.
Environmental scientists have long sought complete information about the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, saying they need it to thoroughly investigate water pollution. Contamination can occur when the chemicals are pumped underground, held in waste pits or trucked to water treatment plants before being discharged back into rivers and drinking water supplies.
...In Pennsylvania, environmental officials told ProPublica that their list of chemical products used for drilling there was complete, but it names just 39 products and 31 unique chemicals. ...
New York obtained the names of the chemicals by surveying drilling companies, their contractors and the manufacturers of the chemicals. The Department of Environmental Conservation identified 152 trademarked products and obtained the complete list of their ingredients; it gathered a partial list of ingredients for an additional 45 products.*
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*See the following post for the list of chemicals used in drilling/fracking operations.