Is 304 tons of hydrochloric acid coming to a fracking well near you?

Over the weekend, the Akron Beacon Journal reported on the amount of chemicals used in the fracking process by Ohio oil and gas drillers. The results are shocking. In just one well in Carroll County, drillers used 484 tons of liquid chemical additives. Relative to the water and sand used in the process, drillers claim the additives represent just a “tiny fraction” of the overall mix. But definitions of “tiny” may vary. In this one well near Canton, the not-so-tiny-sounding sum of 304 tons (608,000 pounds, enough to fill eight tanker trucks) of hydrochloric acid, an extremely corrosive acid, was used.

Ohio requires drillers to disclose to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) the chemicals they use, but ODNR does not, in turn, inform the public which chemicals were used at which well location. Instead, it simply lists all the chemicals in use statewide, on a single page of its website. Residents cannot determine, then, if benzene or other contaminants popping up in drinking water may be tied to a drilling operation nearby. An industry database exists, but not all Ohio drillers use it, as it is not currently required by state law.

Innovation Ohio has called upon the state to begin disclosing fracking chemicals on a per-well basis, something Attorney General DeWine and Governor Kasich say they agree with. Since this disclosure could be accomplished by a simple update to the state’s database of oil and gas wells using data already in its possession, this update could happen immediately. No new legislation is required. We await the state’s response.