Hydraulic Fracturing or “fracking” is the process of
injecting a mixture of water, chemicals and sand underground to create
fractures through which natural gas can flow for collection. While other kinds
of fracking have been utilized in MI for thirty years, this new process is
dramatically different. This is called high volume, long lateral, high pressure
slick water fracking. This process is less than 6 years old and is
threatening the water and air.
How is it Different?
1. Directional drilling – After going down vertically this new drilling technique goes out horizontally as far as 1 mile or more in any direction.
2. High Frack Fluid Volume – This new fracking uses substantially more fresh water (millions of gallons per well instead of 100,000’s gal). Each drill site or pad can have multiple wells, each well using anywhere from 2 to 6 million gallons of fresh water. This water is disposed of in injection wells.
3. Slick Water – Water has to be made more slippery with chemicals to be forced the long distances in the well and to penetrate the shale formations. The exact chemicals do not have to be disclosed by the drilling companies. This was developed in 1996.
4. Multi Well Pads - Multiple wells can drilled in multiple directions from a single pad. This was first used in 2007.
- View this video by the fracking industry’s for a description of the process.
- How do they get the water to the site?
If the water well is not on site it is usually trucked in from the source. Millions of gallons of
water takes many, many trucks and trips. The traffic of these large trucks is a
serious issue for road safety and road integrity.
- Do they recover all the water and what do
they do with this toxic water?
Injection wells – once the fracking process is
complete, only 40 – 70% of the chemically treated water comes back to the
surface. (The rest is left.) Each well produces millions of gallons of
wastewater, called flowback, which has to be disposed of through injection
wells, with more trucking of contaminated water, unless the injection well is
- Has this hurt the water in any areas where
this type of fracking has taken place?
Although these areas have different geology from Michigan, (ours
is called the Utica Collingwood shale) the fact is there has been serious harm
to the water in other areas. Fracking has already been linked to drinking water
contamination and property damage in Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wyoming,
Texas and other states.
In the Susquehanna county town of Dimock, PA,(Marcellus shale)
near the New York border problems with the cement casing on 20 wells drilled by
Cabot Oil & Gas have caused contamination of local water wells, driving
down property values and causing sickness. A 2010 report issued by the
Pennsylvania Land Trust Association found that the state has identified 1,435
violations by 43 Marcellus Shale drilling companies since January 2008. Of
those, 952 were identified as having or likely to have an impact on the
In 2005 an exemption to the Safe Water drinking act was made for
- How many sites are currently being fracked
with this new method in MI?
There are two producing wells in Excelsior Township, Kalkaska County. Thousands of acres of land have had the mineral rights purchased or leased from landowners or the State of Michigan for possible fracking. Here is a link to a spreadsheet of wells in the Collingwood shale
- How can I learn more?
Articles to Check Out
- Michigan Messenger fracking series
- Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica, Buried Secrets: Gas Drllling’s Environmental Threat
- Tom Zeller Jr, New York Times, Gas Drilling Technique Is Labeled Violation
What can I do?
First, sign our petition to ban
fracking in Michigan.
Local resolutions to ban fracking here
Click here to see what else can be done.
Members of Congress are weighing in on the chemical disclosure
rules that the Dept. of Interior is considering for natural gas fracking on
public lands. Not too surprisingly it turns out that those representatives who
oppose disclosure rules took in a lot more money from the oil and gas
industries. Contact them here