By Andrew Schenkel
September 30, 2011
by Checks And Balances Project
For more than a year the gas industry has been at war with those raising concerns about the hydraulic fracturing process. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking as many know it, is a process where large quanties of a water/chemical mixture are injected at high pressures into the ground to get at previously inaccessible gas pockets. For nearly a year the Checks and Balances Project has reported on several individuals whose reputations and careers have been put in jeopardy following studies that reflected poorly on the gas industry. Many of these individuals have gained national attention for their findings.
In the spring of 2011 Volz, a public health expert with the University of Pittsburgh testified before a congressional hearing on hydraulic fracturing in Washington, DC. In that hearing Volz was the lone voice for concern after the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s Director led congressional members to believe that water contamination from fracking had never happened in Colorado. During that same hearing Volz presented findings of a two-year study he led at the University of Pittsburgh. That study found that that the huge amount of chemicals from fracking waste water that had been dumped into Pennsylvania’s waterways had caused the deaths of wildlife.
A month later Volz brought that same study of the Marcellus Shale Commission’s hearing in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where those raising concerns about hydraulic fracturing were treated much differently than those supporting industry.
It was at this hearing that Volz spoke with Checks and Balances Project Director Andrew Schenkel who asked if geologic pressures against fracked wells could cause wells to break down allowing for chemicals to travel into public drinking water supplies. Volz’s answer, which can be seen in the video below, directly contradicted the rhetoric of the gas industry, whose leaders had repeatedly said water contamination from hydraulic fracturing was a complete impossibility.
“They are going to leak because the cement will shrink and when the cement shrinks it pulls away from the geological layer that it is sealed from, and then it serves as a conduit straight up into ground water aquifers,” said Volz.