What is the “water mixed with other components” which is pumped into the ground?
Below is a list of commonly used chemicals, though the cocktails vary from company to company.
It is important to note that a fresh chemical cocktail may not be used each time. This mixture
is often “recycled”- used over and over, until it is finally disposed of. The use (no.3 & 4)
and disposal (no.5) of this industrial waste calls into play many health concerns.

“The make‐up of fracturing fluid varies from one geologic basin or formation to another,”

    “Because the make‐up of each fracturing fluid varies to meet the specific needs of each area,
    there is no one‐size‐fits‐all formula for the volumes for each additive. In classifying
    fracturing fluids and their additives it is important to realize that service companies that
    provide these additives have developed a number of compounds with similar functional properties
    to be used for the same purpose in different well environments. The difference between additive
    formulations may be as small as a change in concentration of a specific compound.”


Some of the chemicals listed go by multiple names not included here.
ACID (Helps dissolve minerals and initiate cracks in the rock)
Hydrochloric Acid

BIOCIDE (Eliminates bacteria in the water that produces corrosive by-products)
Glutaraldehyde; Quaternary Ammonium Chloride; Quaternary Ammonium Chloride; Tetrakis
Hydroxymethyl-Phosphonium Sulfate

BREAKERS (Allows a delayed break down of the gel/ Stabilizers)
Ammonium Persulfate; Sodium Chloride; Magnesium Peroxide; Magnesium Oxide; Calcium Chloride

CLAY STABILIZERS (Prevents clays from swelling or shifting)
Choline Chloride; Tetramethyl ammonium chloride; Sodium Chloride

CORROSION INHIBITORS (Prevents pipe corrosion/ Stabilizers and / or winterizing agents)
Isopropanol; Methanol; Formic Acid; Acetaldehyde

CROSSLINKERS (Maintains fluid viscosity as temperature increases/ Stabilizers)
Petroleum Distillate; Hydrotreated Light Petroleum Distillate; Potassium Metaborate;
Triethanolamine Zirconate; Sodium Tetraborate; Boric Acid; Zirconium Complex; Borate Salts;
Ethylene Glycol; Methanol

FRICTION REDUCERS (“Slicks” the water to minimize friction/ Stabilizers)
Polyacrylamide; Petroleum Distillate; Hydrotreated Light Petroleum Distillate; Methanol;
Ethylene Glycol

GELLING AGENTS (Thickens the water in order to suspend the sand/ Stabilizers)
Guar Gum; Petroleum Distillate; Hydrotreated Light Petroleum Distillate; Methanol;
Polysaccharide Blend; Ethylene Glycol

IRON CONTROL (Prevents precipitation of metal oxides)
Citric Acid; Acetic Acid; Thioglycolic Acid; Sodium Erythorbate

NON-EMULSIFIERS (Prevents the formation of emulsions in the fracture/ Stabilizers)
Lauryl Sulfate; Isopropanol; Ethylene Glycol

pH ADJUSTING AGENTS (Adjusts the pH of fluid to maintain effectiveness of other components)
Sodium Hydroxide; Potassium Hydroxide; Acetic Acid; Sodium Carbonate; Potassium Carbonate

SCALE INHIBITORS (Prevents scale deposits in the pipe)
Copolymer of Acrylamide and Sodium Acrylate; Sodium Polycarboxylate; Phosphonic Acid Salt

SURFACTANTS (Used to increase the viscosity of the fracture fluid/ Stabilizers)
Lauryl Sulfate; Ethanol; Naphthalene; Methanol; Isopropyl Alcohol; 2-Butoxyethanol

avg frac chem


The chemical mixture by itself does not generally become a concern until it is used, however at
any point during the fracking process dangerous spills can occur. Often a spill might occur
during a blow-out (a sudden release of oil and gas from a well), frack-hit (when too close to
another well), or while in transportation. When the chemicals used in fracking spill into
streams, seep into the groundwater, evaporate into the air, or otherwise contaminate a
watershed, many negative health effects can be experienced.


“Meet the Master Well Formula — the chemical cocktail that Encana Corp. will use to
hydraulically fracture every natural gas well it drills in Wyoming’s Jonah Field.”


“Many of the substances used in the fracking process are toxic. Some, like formaldehyde, are
known carcinogens. There are significant risks associated with the release of dangerous
substances used in fracking. Blow-outs have occurred during fracking operations and spills of
fracking fluids and other chemicals have polluted streams and lakes. Fracking is a suspected
cause of groundwater contamination.

Documented reports link fracking contamination with medically-confirmed health impacts in
animals, including diseases, deaths, and second-generation birth defects. And contaminants from
fracking have been found at levels that pose a threat to human health.” -NRDC.org

“The incidents are called frack hits because they happen when the fractures of two wells
intersect. The communicating wells have, in cases, been as far apart as 1.8 miles, though it is
more common for the wells to be less than 3,000 feet apart. That is too close for comfort
because most states allow adjacent horizontal well bores to be about 600 feet from each other.”

    New Mexico: Two vertical wells, both fracked, communicated across a distance of 2,000 feet on
    July 7, 2010, causing a spill of 19,000 gallons of produced water. The spill was cleaned up.

    Oklahoma: A well being fracked communicated with a neighboring well on June 7, 2012, spilling
    714 gallons of oil and produced water. The spill was cleaned up.

    Arkansas: A well being fracked hit another well on Nov. 2, 2012, spilling 3,300 gallons of
    produced water. The spill was contained in the berm and cleaned up.

    Montana: Two wells communicated during fracking on Jan 3, 2012, spilling about 35,000 gallons
    of oil and water. The spill was cleaned up.

    West Virginia: Two frack hits have come to the attention of the DEP since 2011: one where a
    company was fracking in the Marcellus Shale and communicated with producing wells, and another
    where a company was fracking in the Berea sandstone formation and communicated with an
    abandoned well.”


Frequently, fracking companies do not disclose what chemical cocktail they used for fracking.
This causes problems for those seeking to clean-up, take measurements, or warn to the public
when spills or contamination of local watersheds occur. Recently, more and more laws are being
passed which require fracking companies to release their list of chemicals.

These are the reasons given by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) for why
hydraulic fracturing chemical mixtures ought to be publicly disclosed:
“Disclosure of the chemicals used in fracking, the waste generated and its management, and the
details of how and where fracturing was completed, is essential for the following reasons:*

  1. Adequate pre-fracking disclosure allows owners and users of nearby water sources to conduct
    baseline testing to establish the quality of their water prior to hydraulic fracturing,
    including the presence or absence of identified chemical constituents of frack fluids.
  2. Chemical disclosure is crucial to aid in determining the source of any subsequent groundwater
    First responders need the information to appropriately respond to accidents and emergencies.
  3. Medical professionals require full access to information on what their patients may have been
    exposed to and in what concentrations for diagnosis and treatment.
  4. Chemical disclosure allows the public to fully assess the risks that chemical use, transport,
    and storage pose to their communities.
  5. Disclosure of water use provides the public information about the impacts of fracking on state
    supplies of fresh water.
  6. Disclosure of information regarding waste creation and disposition provides an accounting of
    the waste created, its contents, and the societal costs of its disposal.
  7. A robust public disclosure regime is essential for scientific research that will provide a
    better understanding of the cumulative environmental and health effects of fracking and serve
    as a basis for well-informed policies to protect the public.
  8. A disclosure regime highlights responsible corporate actors while calling attention to
    practices that jeopardize the environment and public health.”




[Excerpt from ‘Hydraulic Fracturing Fluids Likely Harmed Threatened Kentucky Fish Species‘ by U.S. Geological Survey]

    “Hydraulic fracturing fluids are believed to be the cause of the widespread death or distress
    of aquatic species in Kentucky’s Acorn Fork, after spilling from nearby natural gas well sites.
    These findings are the result of a joint study by the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Fish
    and Wildlife Service.

    The Acorn Fork, a small Appalachian creek, is habitat for the federally threatened Blackside
    dace, a small colorful minnow. The Acorn Fork is designated by Kentucky as an Outstanding State
    Resource Waters.

    “Our study is a precautionary tale of how entire populations could be put at risk even with
    small-scale fluid spills,” said USGS scientist Diana Papoulias, the study’s lead author. “This
    is especially the case if the species is threatened or is only found in limited areas, like the
    Blackside dace is in the Cumberland.”

    The Blackside dace typically lives in small, semi-isolated groups, so harmful events run the
    risk of completely eliminating a local population. The species is primarily threatened with
    loss of habitat.

    After the spill of hydraulic fracturing fluid, state and federal scientists observed a
    significant die-off of aquatic life in Acorn Fork including the Blackside dace as well as
    several more common species like the Creek chub and Green sunfish. They had been alerted by a
    local resident who witnessed the fish die-off. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the
    Commonwealth of Kentucky are currently working towards restoration of the natural resources
    that were injured by the release.

    To determine the cause of the fish die-off, the researchers collected water and fish samples
    immediately following the chemical release in 2007.

    The samples analyses and results clearly showed that the hydraulic fracturing fluids
    degraded water quality
    in Acorn Fork, to the point that the fish developed gill lesions,
    and suffered liver and spleen damage as well.

    “This is an example of how the smallest creatures can act as a canary in a coal mine,” said
    Tony Velasco, Ecologist for the Fish and Wildlife office in Kentucky, who coauthored the study,
    and initiated a multi-agency response when it occurred in 2007. “These species use the same
    water as we do
    , so it is just as important to keep our waters clean for people and for

    The gill lesions were consistent with exposure to acidic water and toxic concentrations of
    heavy metals
    . These results matched water quality samples from Acorn Fork that were taken
    after the spill.

    After the fracturing fluids entered Acorn Fork Creek, the water’s pH dropped from 7.5 to 5.6,
    and stream conductivity increased from 200 to 35,000 microsiemens per centimeter.
    A low pH number indicates that the creek had become more acidic, and the stream conductivity
    indicated that there were higher levels of dissolved elements including iron and aluminum.

    Blackside dace are a species of ray-finned fish found only in the Cumberland River basin of
    Kentucky and Tennessee and the Powell River basin of Virginia. It has been listed as a
    federally-threatened species by the Service since 1987.

    Hydraulic fracturing is the most common method for natural gas well-development in Kentucky.”



http://fracfocus.org/water-protection/drilling-usage (FracFocus)
http://www.hcn.org/issues/43.3/unpacking-health-hazards-in-frackings-chemical-cocktail (health)
http://www.propublica.org/special/what-the-frack-is-in-that-water (cocktail and waste water)
http://www.nrdc.org/energy/fracking-disclosure.asp (disclosure)

http://earthjustice.org/features/campaigns/fracking-across-the-united-states (accidents map)
http://www.eenews.net/special_reports/overflow (oil & gas spills)
http://www.gilbertsville.com/fracking/frackaccidents.pdf (civilian compilation)

IN THE NEWS (few PA examples)
http://www.wnyc.org/story/125692-natural-gas-fracking-spill-pennsylvania/ .
http://www.pressconnects.com/article/20110125/NEWS01/101250370/Pa-fracking-blowout-spews-fluid-onto-state-forest-lands?nclick_check=1 .
http://protectingourwaters.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/breaking-wyoming-county-pa-fracking-flowback-blowout-causes-spill-evacuation/ .


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