DEP: Gas industry treatment behind discharge on hillside

This article came to me this morning from the RDA. About an hour after receiving it I also received some info form them on what “airfoam HD” is and what is in it. See after the article.
By PATRICK DONLIN – pdonlin@sungazette.com
POSTED: March 17, 2010

WATERVILLE – A substance used in the natural gas drilling process is discoloring and distorting the texture of spring water running off a Cummings Township sidehill. Cheryl Sinclair, a geologist for the state Department of Environmental Protection, was collecting suspicious water samples mid-day Tuesday along Route 44, one mile south of Waterville. The mysterious substance was seen flowing down the slope, under the road and into Pine Creek, said Daniel T. Spadoni, spokesman for DEP’s northcentral region office. Officials from another state agency alerted DEP…

Terming it a surfactant, Spadoni said a substance known as Airfoam HD was causing the water run-off to be unnatural in appearance…. Surfactant used to treat Pennsylvania General Energy wells affected the water run-off, which Spadoni said had nothing to do with hydrofracturing….They were using the whitening substance as a lubricant that lowers the surface tension between air and water, according to Spadoni…

“They’re attempting to determine what caused this problem and what actions they can take to stop it,” Spadoni said of energy company representatives, with whom DEP members have been communicating… The only precaution Spadoni recommended to residents is to avoid the suspicious spring water run-off in the area….

“I don’t think you would want to drink this discharge,” he said.

The substance leaking down the hill isn’t listed as dangerous on a Material Safety Data Sheet, according to Spadoni.

“We don’t know for sure what its chemical composition is,” Spadoni said.

To read the full article and view all photos, click here:

http://www.sungazette.com/page/content.detail/id/540787.html?nav=5011

Some might ask:
(1) if we don’t know the chemical composition, how can we know if it is or is not on the Material Safety Data Sheet and is or is not dangerous?
(2) how to get the word out to illiterate wildlife and aquatic organisms not to drink from this stream.

From Damascus Citizens for Sustainability

2-Butoxylethanol (2-BE) is a foaming agent used for natural gas production and is proven to cause cancer in animals. 2-BE is a primary component of AirFoam HD, a product that has been found on drilling pads in Pennsylvania — the MSDS sheets for Air Foam HD state that is dissolves in water and that chronic exposure causes cancer.   Testing for 2-BE costs over $100 per test, and the cost burden is on the landholder — the DEP has failed to test for drilling or fracking chemicals in their standard tests which are only performed when landowners report problems in their water supply, not before the problems occur.  Residents who will soon have natural gas production occuring in their region or upstream from their groundwater supply must hire an independent water testing company to do a “baseline test” to show the lack of contaminants prior to the drilling.  Without a baseline test, it is more difficult to convict a drilling operator for water contamination – the drilling operator can claim that there is no proof that the contaminant was not in the groundwater supply prior to the drilling.

From TEDX

Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs)
MSDSs are designed to inform those who handle, ship, and use the products about their physical and chemical
characteristics, and their direct and/or immediate health effects, in order to prevent injury while working with
the products.  The sheets are also designed to inform emergency response crews in case of accidents or spills.
The total reported composition of a product on an MSDS can be less than 0.1% up to 100%. MSDSs are not
submitted to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for review. The product
manufacturers determine what is revealed on their MSDSs.
The health information on MSDSs most often warns of possible harm to the skin and eyes, gastrointestinal and
respiratory tracts, followed by the nervous system and brain. Many MSDSs do not address the outcome of long
term, intermittent or chronic exposures, or adverse health effects that may not be expressed until years after the
exposure.

RDA comment

2-Butoxylethanol (2-BE) is one of the nastier things the drilling industry uses, It is soluble in water, vaporizes in air, and is taken up through the skin. It can cause a very specific adrenal tumor linked to its exposure. According to Theo Colborn at the Endocrine Disruption Exchange, it is implicated in a wide variety of health effects in most systems of the body and should be handled with great care.  Studies have indicated there is no known level of dilution where 2-BE doesn’t have effect on organisms. You can download the spread sheet at the link below.

http://www.endocrinedisruption.com/chemicals.fracturing.php

2 Responses

  1. Well if the first aid for AirFoam HD states:
    Skin & Eyes – in case of contact, flush with plenty of water for at least 15 minutes. If irritation develops, call a physician. I do not think its safe to drink, So Ms Sinclair should rethink her statments to the paper

  2. […] It is believed to be 2-Butoxylethanol (2-BE), a foaming agent used for natural gas production proven to cause cancer in animals. See How Should We Do the Mountain for more details. […]

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