FracFocus is a useful information source about hydraulic fracturing chemicals
The national FracFocus website helps landowners and local officials learn more about high volume hydraulic fracturing chemicals used in Michigan. Well drillers may soon be required to post information on that site.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recently published proposed changes to Michigan’s rules for oil and gas operations. A new provision requires operations using high volume hydraulic fracturing (greater than 100,000 gallons) to post a list of chemicals used in the process on the FracFocus Chemical Disclosure Registry. The site is an excellent resource for landowners and local officials in areas where high volume hydraulic fracturing is or might be used to extract natural gas and oil in deep geologic formations. A current map of active applications and permits is published by DEQ.
Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, is the oil and gas development technique where large volumes of water mixed with sand and chemicals are pumped under high pressure to release deep oil and gas reserves. The method is controversial nationally and in Michigan because of concerns about potential environmental and human health impacts.
The FracFocus website provides public access to a list of chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process, listed by individual wells. The information is provided either voluntarily by drilling companies or as required by state regulations. In Michigan, posting will be required within 30 days after completion of a high-volume hydraulic fracturing operation if the draft regulations are adopted. Even though not currently required, the site includes records from 20 Michigan wells as of late May 2014, dating back to early 2011.
Each of the records includes the trade name, supplier, purpose, ingredient name, concentration and reference number for the chemicals used in the process. Interpreting that information is made easier on the site by a list of what chemicals are used and their purpose, and links to government occupational safety and chemical databases and fact sheets.
FracFocus also includes information about how hydraulic fracturing works, groundwater protection measures and links to regulations in Michigan and many other states. The site is managed by the Ground Water Protection Council (an organization of state regulatory agencies) and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (a multi-state agency).