Fracking Chemicals May Be Unknown, Even To Gas Drillers, Lawsuit against Range Resources Documents Suggest

Shareholders divest on vote of no confidence in Range Resources by TXSHARON, October 2, 2013, Bluedaze

Bullies and thugs never win in the long run.

Fracking Chemicals May Be Unknown, Even To Gas Drillers, Lawsuit Documents Suggest by Kate Sheppard, September 27, 2013,
Critics of hydraulic fracturing, known widely as “fracking,” have been pushing hard for natural gas companies to disclose all of the chemicals in the fluids that are used in the process. But what if the companies themselves don’t even know what those chemicals are? Documents from a lawsuit against Texas-based Range Resources suggest that they may not. The documents are part of an appeal that a resident of Washington County, Pa., has made to the state’s Environmental Hearing Board. The plaintiff in the case alleges that a Range wastewater impoundment, which holds water left over from hydraulic fracturing operations, contaminated well water.As part of the discovery process in this case, a judge directed Range to release the full list of chemicals used in its drilling operations, including the components of all the products that are used at every stage in the gas drilling process. But Range says in its filing that it has been unable to obtain from its suppliers the ingredients in many of the products. Range has been inquiring with its manufacturers about the ingredients in 55 different products, including lubricants, drilling fluids, slurry and surfactants, according to documents. But in many cases, Range had not yet been able to obtain the information.

“Range admits that it does not have an all-encompassing knowledge of the complete chemical formula of every product used at the Yeager Site by Range and/or its subcontractors, as some products contain proprietary compounds which may not be known to Range and many of the MSDS do not list the non-hazardous components of products,” the company’s environmental engineering manager stated in another document, posted in full below. The documents derive from a case that dates back to 2011, when Loren Kiskadden, a resident of Amwell, Pa., first asked the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to look into potential contamination of his well, which is located near a Range drilling site. In June 2011, the DEP concluded that, while chemicals like butyl alcohol, chloroform, methane and acetone were found in Kiskadden’s water, they could not be directly linked to Range’s drilling operations. Kiskadden is now appealing to the state’s Environmental Hearing Board, alleging that the DEP did not do adequate analysis when it made that determination. An agency scientist also testified in a deposition related to the case that when it reported its findings, the DEP omitted some data on toxic metals identified in its tests on Kiskadden’s water. The case is expected to go before the board next spring.

“The fact that Range does not know and cannot determine all of the chemicals used at its drill sites and placed into the Pennsylvania Environment is, in and of itself, almost inconceivable,” the plaintiff’s lawyer argues in the filing. They also argue that the DEP is “irresponsible” in not requiring Range to provide that information, and that Range should be found in contempt of the court for failing to do so.

“How can Range Resources ever claim they aren’t responsible for contaminating the water and air now that they have admitted they don’t even know what chemicals they’re using?” said Jesse White, a state representative from the 46th district that has been a vocal critic of the natural gas industry. “If they don’t know what’s in there, what can they test for?”

Range was one of the first companies to announce, in July 2010, that it would voluntarily disclose all of the chemicals that it uses in the fracking process. “It’s the right thing to do morally and ethically, but it’s also right for our shareholders,” John Pinkerton, Range’s executive chairman, said at the time. … “Range has this very well-varnished public perception that they’re disclosing what they’re using,” White said. “Range has been bragging that they’re the first to voluntarily disclose for years now, which is clearly a lie.” [Emphasis added]

Lawsuit Shows Range Resources Doesn’t Know Chemical Composition of Fracking Fluid by Sean Kitchen, September 23, 2013, Raging Chicken Press
A court opinion issued by Smith Butz LLC to the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board shows that Range Resources failed to provide chemical information and MSDS to state authorities, and the opinion also shows that the natural gas corporation does not know the chemical composition of fracking fluid being stored at a well impoundment that has been at the center of controversy for the past couple of years. The opinion issued by the law firm revolves around the Yeager well impoundment in Amwell, Pennsylvania.  A November 2012 Post-Gazette story reports:

Finding them and certain volatile organic compounds in the water test results would link contamination of groundwater to gas well drilling and fracking operations, said John Smith, an attorney with Smith Butz, a firm representing eight people in the Washington County case against Range Resources and 12 of its subcontractors. Their case contends that they face serious health problems and increased cancer risk due to exposure to toxic chemicals in their air and well water near Range’s Yeager drill site in Amwell. “Despite these significant health consequences, the DEP purposely never considered information concerning all of these metals in each of the plaintiffs’ water supplies before making any of its determinations and purposely failed to alert the plaintiffs to their presence,” said Mr. Smith in a court filing Wednesday. The recently published court opinion, which can be seen below in it’s entirety, reports that Range Resources is in contempt of court for failing to disclose “all products and all chemicals within the produces used at the Yeager site.”  The order also indicates that Range Resources “does not know and cannot determine all of the chemicals used at its drill sites and placed into the Pennsylvania environment is, in and to itself, almost inconceivable.”

One can assume, based on Range’s failure for over a year to produce requested and court-ordered information and the presence of known constituents that were used and spilled at the Yeager Site and present in Appellant’s drinking water, that the information could further establish that Range’s products used at the Yeager Site were comprised of chemicals that are present in Appellant’s drinking water supply. [Emphasis added]

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