80,000 Fracked Wells in Ohio – Zero Groundwater Contamination

Looks like there’s about to be interest in drilling Marcellus shale gas wells in the Yellow Springs (Greene County), Ohio area from West Bay Exploration:

Last November, representatives from West Bay Exploration Company began taking seismic readings of the area north of the village to determine if fossil fuel reserves lay underground. Residents in Miami Township began receiving oil and gas drilling lease agreements last week.*

Wherever leasing and drilling start to happen, opposition arises, particularly to the method of drilling known as hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”). So to give Ohioans some context about the safety of fracking:

Geologists at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Mineral Resources Management, which oversees fossil fuel drilling and fracking, maintain that no groundwater contamination has taken place in any of the 80,000 fracked wells in Ohio, and that strict state regulations mandate cement casing within a well to isolate underground aquifers from the fracking taking place several thousand feet below them. Also required are proper wastewater disposal and site remediation when wells stops producing.

*The Yellow Springs News (Feb 10) – Fracking concerns arise in village

  • Bill

    I would recommend the regulators and indusry be very careful with their terminology such as “zero” or never, etc. The chance that no cemented casing string has ever leaked any contaminants into the groundwater is very unlikely. The fracking process is likely very safe but without incident is very unlikely in my estimation. If and where leakages have occurred, probably represent little concern for water supplies but could be considered contamination never the less.

  • Phleb0

    are they speaking of horizontal fracking or vertical?? makes a huge difference

  • A good point Bill. My point with my somewhat “sensational” headline is that it’s so rare, it’s statistically about zero. Metaphysically nothing? Not likely as you point out. But very close–and the larger point, it’s very safe.

  • Thanks for your comment. It’s true that fracking vertically takes much less in the way of water resources, chemicals, sand, etc., but fundamentally it is the same process as fracking horizontally. You can say that because less of everything is used, there’s less chance for an accident that would contaminate water–I could buy that argument. But the larger point as I stated on another comment is that with such a large number of of wells fracked, with statistically no accidents that contaminate water, shouldn’t that say something about the saftey of hydraulic fracturing?

    If you have information or knowledge about fracking vertically vs horizontally, please share it here in the comments (or email me at [email protected]). I would be happy to share that information with MDN readers.

  • Pingback: MDN Weekly Update – Feb 20, 2011 | Marcellus Drilling News()

  • Djjantzi

    As an industry newsletter, you have a vested interest in making us believe that it is safe.  Strict regulations do not prevent accidents. Some environmental disasters just can’t be fixed, no matter how much is paid in lawsuits.  Water tables can’t be uncontaminated.  We have many years of case studies with industrial environmental disasters all over the world to back this up. 

  • Nice try, but wrong. I have no “vested interest” simply because I write about, and believe, a certain way. I’m not in anyone’s pocket (and receive no compensation for this site). I’m attempting to write from the landowner’s perspective. We all have our own viewpoints and influences and interests. I try to be as openly transparent as possible about mine. How about you? Do you belong to the Sierra Club or other environmentalist organization?

    As for contaminated water tables–give us an example if there are so many of them. I know of NO examples of chemical contamination of any water tables from hydraulic fracturing. I’m sure there are a few, but compared to the hundreds of thousands of wells drilled in the past 60 years using fracking, in my book, it’s safe.

  • tedkaye

    We have to be careful about our terminology.  Technically speaking, “hydraulic fracturing” is not a drilling technique…it is a “well completion” method.   

    While wells have been hydraulically fractured for decades, I think the advent of the horizontal drilling technology is what has really made the difference.  The energy companies are able to reach more than just a pin point of potential gas supply.  The term “game changer”  applies.  

    In my investigations, the the water contamination that has occurred has been the result of sloppy well drilling practices or accidents near the surface and not related to hydraulic fracturing activity which necessarily occurs thousands of feet below the water supply.  However, I have heard anecdotal evidence of migration of contaminants into the water supply and would be grateful if anyone could point to a reliable source backing up this observation. I know I am stating the obvious when I say Gasland is not a reliable source.

  • Robert Harris

    Well Ted it has been my experience as well when you say sloppy drilling techniques and accidents you are talking about what is being forced by the government onto the fracturing Industry. Government owns about 80% of lands hat could be drilled on in the US. They deny these lands so that people are forced to magnify the number of wells in a small area which only increases the risk for gruond water contamination. Science 101: everything moves from a higher concentration to a lower concentration. (This is a proven Scientific fact) The leading contributor to ground water contamination in and around pennsylvania is a direct result of government not allowing new wells with better casings to be used and forcing older already permitted wells to be refracked. again another Fact everyone over looks. Ithas been my experience Government is the leadng cause of ground water contamination in America! Just saying!