Study finds 6,600 spills from fracking in just four states

Started February 21, 2017 at 11:58 am by @Paul Heckbert in Marcellus Shale

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Paul Heckbert
02/21/17 11:58:59AM

"Each year, 2 to 16 percent of hydraulically fractured oil and gas wells spill hydrocarbons, chemical-laden water, hydraulic fracturing fluids and other substances, according to a new study.The analysis, which appears Feb. 21 in Environmental Science & Technology, identified 6,648 spills reported across Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota and Pennsylvania during a 10-year period. ...

North Dakota reported the highest spill rate, with 4,453 incidents, followed by Pennsylvania at 1,293, Colorado at 476 and New Mexico at 426. ...

The results of the study exceed the 457 spills calculated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for eight states between 2006 and 2012 because the EPA's analysis only considered the hydraulic fracturing stage, rather than the full life cycle of unconventional oil and gas production. ...

Fifty percent of spills identified in the Environmental Science & Technology article were related to storage and moving fluids via pipelines, although it was not always possible to determine the cause of the spill because some states explicitly required this data to be reported while others relied on narrative descriptions."


interactive map of spills:

Pennsylvania map, with representative info about a spill:


02/21/17 12:04:06PM @ba:

Hypocrite Heckbert, what did you use to heat your home with this winter?

Barry D
02/22/17 07:53:44PM @barry-d:


The hypocrisy goes deeper.

Paul was/is employed by an institution that receives funding from companies, foundations etc associated withe the development and production of fossil fuels.

In other words, Paul is paid, in part, by the oil and gas industry.

Wow! Talk about hypocrisy.

02/22/17 10:10:04PM @ba:


Robert J. Smith
02/23/17 06:46:03PM @robert-j-smith:

I don't know about Heckbert but I went with geothermal. Works great and oil, gas trucks and pipes not needed.  Still hooked to the grid but so are you with your oil and gas. The way you are thinking you should put in a coal burner. They are a lot of fun.  You are putting a coal miner out of work if you insist on oil and gas. The hypocrite is you.  

Barry D
02/23/17 07:02:26PM @barry-d:


Geothermal still relies on fossil fuels.

Robert J. Smith
02/24/17 11:26:46AM @robert-j-smith:

Still wonder what the D is in your last initial. Now if you carefully read my posted message I say that I am still hooked to the grid. The grid is the electrical grid. As for this being a pro gas and oil site, I own property and had lease. However, I am not pro gas/oil or pipelines. It appears that you only want people on this site that agree with you. Juvenile!

02/24/17 12:30:06PM @ba:

And what powers the grid that runs your heat pump, Robert? Since you're bashing the pro gas people, and defending morons who post misinformation time and again, I assume you subscribe to an energy provider who only sources hydroelectric, wind, and maybe nuclear. Is that correct? Do you even know? It's always amazes me the people who accuse others of being juvenile are usually just that.

02/23/17 07:37:50PM @ba:

Hypocrite? Because of. . . coal? What? Ok, I'm not even going to attempt to thread together that incoherent mess of a statement.

02/21/17 12:19:52PM @hilltophome:

Posting a report is hypocritical? Though I too have a stake (property leased) in this O&G market and am aware of the multitude of hydrocarbon products I use on a daily basis to make my life easier, it doesn't make me blind to the problems they can cause or stop me from hoping that their extraction (locally or abroad) can be continually made safer for our environment. Perhaps a good question in regards to the report would be, "what was the average quantity of the spills, or just how much fracking fluid must be released in an errant manner to constitute as spill"? Is a "spill" a gallon? Is it 500? Neither are good, but one does a considerable more damage than the other.

02/21/17 12:44:55PM @ba:

If you don't know by now why I posted what I did, then you haven't been paying attention to Heckbert's posting history.

William C. Morrison
02/21/17 12:44:29PM @william-c-morrison:

"Spills calculated by the EPA" sounds like Global Warning BS to me.   It seems to me every gas station and oil well has some form of hydrocarbon spillage, but that does not mean it is contamination of the entire area.  It is a simple process to aeroate the soil and let nature do its job.  Is the EPA still calculating the flatulence of cattle?  What about human flatulence?  Get real people.  I am sure the Trump Administration will soon take this kind of thing excessive prognostication activity on and clean it up so we can get back to reality once again.

Robert J. Smith
02/22/17 10:34:07AM @robert-j-smith:

It is about global warming but it is not BS. If you are on planet earth and read just a little you will realize that the planet is in trouble because of global warming. The gas the drillers are emitting is worse than the carbon emissions coming from burning coal and oil.  Scientists around the world agree that we are in trouble and over 50 countries signed an agreement to cut down on pollutants. Unless you have a PhD  in science and studied the effects of pollution on the planet you need to heed the advice of those that do.  As for the pervert trump he has been referred to as crazy, unbalanced, a nut case, and a possibility for impeachment.  He has no science background and no one should follow him like a lemming. The perverts presidency cannot be too short. 

Bob Jenness
02/21/17 12:48:55PM @bob-jenness:
Thanks for posting this. It's so hard to find unbiased posts in these fora. Everybody wants to rush off to praise the energy industry, who appear to have an abysmal QA record. If airlines had a even a tenth of this 2% major defect rate, we'd have to stay in the house to avoid aluminum showers! Now if we could just get an objective measure of whether they do better or worse on owned vs leased properties (e.g. ND vs PA), we'd be even more prepared to negotiate a good lease. 😊
02/21/17 12:52:19PM @ba:

And you know it is unbiased how?

Barry D
02/21/17 01:03:30PM @barry-d:


Unbiased? Are you kidding?

You certainly haven't followed his posts on here.

He is the chief of misinformation and fear mongering on this site.

All from an anti-oil and gas perspective.

David Allen Lilly
02/21/17 07:18:14PM @david-allen-lilly:

Or, bob, one could ask if the total effect of all these spills is worth the time it took for me to respond to your comment.

Barry D
02/21/17 01:09:47PM @barry-d:

1293 "spills" over ten years equals 130 per year.

Hardly a public safety issue.

Plus, many of those incidents are repeat identifications. Different organizations may have authority and may each report the same spill.

Further, the same spill can be cited under several different codes.

How can you have a spill from fracking? Fracking occurs 7,000'-9,000' below the surface.

This is just more misinformation and fear mongering.

02/21/17 01:21:03PM @bpm:

I think to really put this in perspective, we would need to see a map that shows all "spills", verses trying to show how good or bad one industry is.  The comparison to airlines is not at all helpful, because even with their incredible safety record, far more folks are killed every year verses E&P activity.  For that matter, far more folks are killed each year on vacation than the oil and gas business.  I've personally been involved in the clean up of "spills" at airports, gas stations, dry cleaners, cranes lifting trees out of someones back yard (twice actually, once at a Dallas Cowboy's players house), grocery warehouses, factories of all shapes and sizes, landfills, subway tunnels, highway accidents, hospitals, even college campuses.  To look at a map that counts everything from "null" gallons on up certainly can't be called "hypocritical", but it is certainly using facts in a biased manner. 

02/21/17 01:31:26PM @ba:

No, what's hypocritical is when one continuously puts up misinformation and biased information, all the while using those products the misinformation is targeting. Of course these industries should be held accountable and be careful. Everyone knows that. I hate pollution as much as anyone else, but to put up misleading and skewed reports isn't helping anyone. It only hinders development, and he is only doing this to be an agitator. Reminds me of when Yoko Ono was protesting these gas wells, and was offering tours to the gas wells site in her huge Mercedes Benz DIESEL BUS from NYC. The hypocrisy of these morons is staggering.

02/21/17 05:43:58PM @hilltophome:

  You're correct, I've not kept up with Mr. Heckbert's postings. That said, if nothing else, he does (whether he's trolling just to stir the bees nest or not) get people discussing an issue. I tried as best I can to look at both side of an issue. I admit to being liberal leaning myself though there's always gray areas in anyone's political or social leanings, especially when their income or livelihood is concerned. I don't believe the O&G industry is squeaky clean by any stretch but they are necessary. They also need to be watched like any other industry since they have potential for great harm in their activities if not done with a decent corporate conscience. I read plenty from people on this website that berate the industry's greed and corruption (and the politicians being in their pockets) in one breath, and then jump to attack those "filthy, elitist, ignorant liberals" in the next mouthful whenever they raise concerns that oil & gas drilling may have drawbacks or need to be regulated to keep it safe, equitable and less polluting.

  @ "ba", I just googled and found a Rolling Stone article concerning the Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon tour in Pennsylvania, dated Jan 18, 2013. Have to say I pretty much agree with you on that one. Gagged me. One particular line that really made me about spit up my coffee was this, about 3/4 the way down, "


The group arrives at a natural gas compressor station on Route 29 in Susquehanna County. "Mom, see that thing that looks like a ski trail?" Lennon said. (See it in the last image.) "It's a pipeline and it will never have trees again."

  Well, you know what else that pipeline looks like? A road. A highway. The kind you drive tour buses on. The kind you drive to the grocery in the suburbs (albeit a little steeper and probably a lot less trash). It even looks a lot like a ski trail. I think they should drive to Aspen next time around and promote shutting down all those ski resorts (probably heated with natural gas).  I don't doubt that the rural families discussed in the article really are having problems with the nearby drilling, it can & does happen though it's not a rule that it happens every time a well is drilled, as some would like us to believe. And those families are desperate, they're doing whatever they can to get the politicians and media to hear their stories and address the issues. They're not wealthy and hey, the best way to get media attention is often celebrities. They generate their own buzz, although too often like flies on poop. Unfortunately YES, some liberals can be EXCEEDINGLY stupid and annoying, especially when they've grown up rich and didn't really have to work much, or at all, for their money and inherited fame. And there's a bunch of conservatives with their head's up their butts too.  Hopefully there's a reasonable majority in the middle somewhere that can find good solutions for our country.

02/21/17 08:44:34PM @ba:

You make some good points.

Barry D
02/21/17 02:06:59PM @barry-d:

There are far more spills each year from tanker truck accidents and railroad accidents, than from oilfield spills (by number and by volume)

Yet you don't see any of the "Chicken Littles" talking about those.

Industry Watcher
02/21/17 04:46:50PM @industry-watcher:
In PA, a spill of as little as 1 gallon must be reported even if it occurred on an impermeable containment barrier.
Barry D
02/21/17 05:01:47PM @barry-d:



A leaky hydraulic hose or truck leaking oil, even on a liner count as spills.

This what i meant about this thread being misinformation and fear mongering.

Bob Jenness
02/21/17 07:48:26PM @bob-jenness:
02/21/17 09:26:45PM @craigs:

I personally know what a couple of those red dots on the map stand for, neither of which were a real problem. One was from 2011 drill site where a small pony motor broke and less than 6 quarts of motor oil hit the ground. Now that is a drilling disaster!

03/02/17 10:46:20AM @finnbear:

And here is how those figures get inflated and the Paulie H Chicken Littles of the world get their underwear in a knot. Even a "spill" of a gallon of hydraulic oil from a broken machine that is COMPLETELY contained and cleaned up and has no polluting effects whatsoever is still counted as a "spill". When considering reports such as this you MUST first understand the criteria used to create the "statistics" being reported. If/when you are able to separate out the BS and only consider the legitimate portion of the report, what you'll be left with is not going to make the sky fall.

David Allen Lilly
02/21/17 07:12:49PM @david-allen-lilly:

We should ask ourselves two questions:

1) Is there any consequence or benefit to the cause of the author by starting these similarly themed threads that are not really even relative to what any one of us comes here to read ?

2) Supposing one is able to correctly answer #1, what type of person would bother to waste so much of his time for absolutely zero results ?

Barry D
02/21/17 08:23:31PM @barry-d:


1. There is benefit to him. He, like all anti-oil and gas radicals, operate based on an agenda. Spreading misinformation to create fear in an effort to have people demand an end to development.

I disagree with you that the discussion of environmental concerns is not relevant. I disagree with his dishonest approach to the discussion of the issue.

2. He is an ideological zealot. At his stage he is benign. But at the far end of the range are the people who chain themselves to gates, trucks etc. The full blown whackos are violent.

03/02/17 10:48:33AM @finnbear:

There is a benefit - to him. It feeds his mental disorder which requires constant self gratification.

Barry D
03/03/17 08:52:13PM @barry-d:


It's like therapy for him and we all are helping recover from his "fractivism".

Barry D
02/21/17 08:39:29PM @barry-d:

Paul's thread is based on the recently released Duke University Study (the University which has had several anti-shale studies debunked.

One of the main researchers is a well known anti oil and gas zealot. So right away we know this is biased.

The largest spill was fresh water but was designated as a spill because it was on a well site. In fact 10% of all the "spills" were fresh water spills.

The majority of the "spills were contained on the site. No contamination

Don't you love how Paul regularly leaves out pertinent details?

More misinformation to be used for fear mongering.

02/22/17 07:18:32PM @ba:

There. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Heckbert. It'll go good with the weed you've been smokin'.

Barry D
02/22/17 07:18:28PM @barry-d:


For once, please engage in an adult dialogue.

You have to see that most of us disagree with your point of view.

Are we all wrong and you so right?

Robert J. Smith
02/23/17 10:44:12AM @robert-j-smith:

There are few adults in this discussion so they are not in the majority.  

Ken Marx
02/23/17 09:57:10AM @ken-marx:
Question in thread "How can you have a spill from fracking". Realize that the term fracking and drilling for O&G are used synonymously by the anti-development crowd.
They use it because it sounds scary and most folks don't know what it means.
"What you don't know may hurt you"

Robert J. Smith
02/23/17 06:34:22PM @robert-j-smith:

Go ahead and frac, just don't bring it to the surface. Leave it where it belongs or plug the leaks when it comes up to where we live. Give jobs to people  to plug the leaks.  This is a job maker not a job killer. Nobody in their right mind thinks that these money hungry bastards will quit drilling just because we demand that there be no leaks and they have to hire more people to plug the leaks.  

Ken Marx
02/23/17 10:14:07AM @ken-marx:

check out this short video where an anti scientist gets it all wrong.

Barry D
02/23/17 07:01:06PM @barry-d:


Noticed that, as usual you refuse to engage in adult conversation with regard to a thread you have posted.

Typical bomb thrower.

02/24/17 08:39:11AM @mab:


Are you implying that those who disagrees with with you are not adults?

You realize, i'm sure, that this is a pro gas and oil website, right?

That's kinda like a Cubs fan getting on a Pirates fan club website and dissing the Pirates and then questioning whether you're an adult or not for sticking up for the pirates!

02/24/17 01:01:32PM @mab:


If you leased your land and are not pro gas and oil, as you stated, don't you find that a bit hypocritical?

Robert J. Smith
02/24/17 07:32:44PM @robert-j-smith:

Are you on the same planet? If you don't lease they take it anyway. I had the best lease possible and they tried to change it in a five year period.  When I would not agree they cancelled the lease by not paying after five years. I went further and filed under Ohio law to kill the lease in total.  They would not release the lease from their side even though the lease provisions demanded that they release.  Unless you take certain actions on your side the lease remains. It makes no difference that they don't pay to extend. Protect yourself. Oil and Gas are not on our side. You are naive if you think so.  

Barry D
02/24/17 07:43:39PM @barry-d:


First: "they" can't just take it. When you say this I assume that you are referring to "forced/mandatory pooling". There is a procedure that companies must follow and it is no walk in the park. "They" can't just take it.

As for releasing a lease; there are defined steps that can be taken to have a lease released. It's obvious that you do not understand this process. And, before anyone jumps on me just let me say, that it is not always an easy process. But it can be done.

Robert J. Smith
02/25/17 11:04:22AM @robert-j-smith:

Quibble, quibble, quibble! Bottom line is that they take it. Regarding killing the lease, mine is dead and the process was not complex though from what you say you should have somebody who knows what they are doing to help you if you want to get out of a lease. 

Barry D
02/25/17 01:32:38PM @barry-d:


"They" have never just taken it. There has always been a procedure.

I agree, that if you are not comfortable then get some help.

Paul Heckbert
02/26/17 10:21:41PM @paul-heckbert:

Diving into the details of this research paper, we find these excerpts relevant to Pennsylvania:

"[re spill reporting deadlines] Follow-up written reports are due within 3 days in Colorado, 10 days in North Dakota, and 15 days in New Mexico. Before October 2016, Pennsylvania’s rules did not set a deadline for reporting ...

In the majority of their incident reports, neither North Dakota nor Pennsylvania provided pathway information, with many pathways being discerned from narrative descriptions …

the Notice of Violations database in Pennsylvania found that between 2.6% and 6.2% of wells had structural integrity issues, which was much higher than reported in the spill data of the other three states …"

One of their figures shows that the spill pathway (pit, tank, flowline, transportation, ...) was "unknown" in about half of cases, in PA.


So an overall conclusion is that PA state law and the Department of Environmental Protection have been lax at collecting good information about fracking-related spills in this state.

To read more, the paper Unconventional Oil and Gas Spills: Risks, Mitigation Priorities, and State Reporting Requirements by Lauren A. Patterson et al is attached.

02/27/17 12:59:52AM @craigs:

"we included in our analysis only those NOV s categorized as having a spill or the potential to result in a spill (n  = 1293)."

In conclusion, this post and the article linked are garbage, as they clearly state that 1293 is the actual number of spills, not potential.

Barry D
02/27/17 07:48:57PM @barry-d:

@chicken little aka Paul

2.6%-6.2% integrity issues.

Once again with the misinformation.

This includes ALL wells in PA, not just Marcellus and Utica wells.

Which means all wells that have ever been drilled and are still in existence are included in that statistic.

This statistic includes thousands of wells still in existence that were drilled and completed prior to current standards.


Barry D
02/27/17 07:57:12PM @barry-d:

@chicken little aka Paul

Further, to be more complete in my response, to your misinformation, I will concede that issues of integrity have been found with regard to Marcellus and Utica wells.

But, what does that mean? During a test of a cement job it may fail. Now remember, this well is not in production and there is no danger to the environment. That is why the test is conducted.

In order to continue the company must resolve the issue, such as a new cement job. These issues are resolved prior to a well being put into production.

Bottom line is this, Paul would have you believe that there are all these wells out there with integrity issues that pose a danger to the environment.


Robert J. Smith
02/28/17 06:49:16PM @robert-j-smith:

Oil and Gas soon to be just like the coal mines that are still spewing their chemicals into the water table. How naive can you get? You and the rest of the drill, drill, drill segment must work for oil and gas. This discussion (and I am stretching it) is worth nothing.  You can lead a person to knowledge but you cannot make him accept it. 

Barry D
02/28/17 07:23:00PM @barry-d:


Obviously, your journey to knowledge was a wasted trip.

02/28/17 07:34:06PM @ba:

And yet you leased with them.

Barry D
02/28/17 08:46:22PM @barry-d:


As I said, the search for knowledge was wasted on him.

Must have taken a wrong turn at Albuquerque.




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