New York is Already Fracked!

Despite a three year de facto moratorium on high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing, more than 10,000 oil and gas wells have already been fracked in New York State, and that number is growing every day.

Recently, Catskill Citizens used the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) to obtain information on a few of these wells. We decided to look at the two dozen that have already been drilled in the Marcellus Shale. What we found was disturbing, and sometimes shocking.

Records show that these Marcellus wells were fracked with dozens of chemicals, including carcinogens and neurotoxins. We expected that.

But we also encountered page after page of blacked- out information. And while it’s hard to know exactly what information is being withheld, it certainly seems to go well beyond the secret chemical ingredients that the frackers claim are “proprietary.” Information on chemical transportation and storage was also censored, and sometimes even the DEC forms themselves had been redacted!

While we haven’t examined all the records yet, we’ve already found evidence of numerous violations, including gas leaks and water contamination.

But the most startling find of all was the huge volume of fracking fluid injected into New York’s vertical wells. Today’s operations are a far cry from the 20,000 to 80,000 gallon frack jobs described in the DEC’s 1992 Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS). According to records we obtained, vertical wells have been injected with hundreds of thousands of gallons of fluid. We found two wells Marcellus wells that were fracked with more than 640,000 gallons of toxic fluid!

Despite dramatic changes in fracking technology over the last twenty years, New York’s DEC still permits vertical wells to be fracked according to ground rules that were developed in the late eighties and early nineties. This must change. New York needs to move quickly to put a halt to all fracking operations. If any fracking is permitted in the future, it must be subjected to the new Supplemental GEIS that is now being developed by the DEC.