When a well is fracked—each well is generally fracked up to ten times—between 15 and 40 percent of the mix flows back to the surface. Companies operating in the Marcellus, which is naturally radioactive, must find a way to dispose of thousands of gallons of water, toxic chemicals, brine and radium.
There are several ways things can go wrong, Horwitt says. Fluids can be spilled during transport, they can travel underground through natural or man-made fractures, or they can contaminate nearby areas if they're not stored properly...
Citizen action groups have popped up all over the Marcellus region, including the Shaleshock Action Alliance and the Pennsylvania-based Damascus Citizens for Sustainability, and around the country.
On May 26 As You Sow, a shareholder advocacy organization representing the Park Foundation of Ithaca, won support from a surprising 26 percent of shares at ExxonMobil's annual meeting for a proposal that would have required the company to disclose its efforts to reduce risks from natural gas drilling. "The Gulf oil spill is a powerful example of how oil and gas drilling can devastate the environment," Park Foundation executive director Jon Jensen wrote in a statement. "This is a good first step in responsibly seeking energy in a way that protects the environment, human health, and the welfare of the company."
See: As You Sow | Mixplex
See: Dusty Horwitt. (2009). "Drilling Around the Law Report." Environmental Working Group. 24 pages.