Wednesday, November 6, 2013

UPDATE: Ongoing water crisis in Franklin Forks PA (Please Read / Please Help)

Friends, hope you are paying attention to the evolving water crisis in Franklin Forks,
Susquehanna County, PA, which is about 30m south of Binghamton NY.
(store-bought 1-gal or 5-gal containers)
Make cash donations for water here:
Local contacts: Vera Scroggins: 607-237-9685 / Craig Stevens: 570-967-2280

Ongoing crisis/stand-off between affected families, concerned citizens, vs. WPX Energy.

Please-- we need more eyes on this, more media attention.
If you have press contacts please alert them.

This story is BIG...

Condensed version of the story:

WPX was having a Fracking Frenzy near Franklin Forks, PA
around Feb-Mar 2012.
(WPX is part of the Williams Companies which builds/operates compressor stations
and pipelines, like the Laser NE, and the Constitution).

Suddenly, water in several homes turned black and oily, and two local homes were tested by PA DEP at EXPLOSIVE methane levels at 58mg/l and 70.6 mg/l (this is near the theoretical maximum possible at atmospheric pressure and room temperature). 

See the PA DEP determination letters for three affected families in Franklin Forks in these court documents filed Monday, Nov 4, 2013:

For several months since the original complaints were made, the PA DEP did nothing, the attorney for the families did nothing, local elected leaders did nothing, and WPX did nothing.

It was not until Vera Scroggins and Craig Stevens got involved, and made a complaint to the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, that WPX came out and "voluntarily" installed water tanks ("water buffalos") to three affected homes (Hadlick, Manning, Henry families). This was March 22, 2012. WPX delivered water to them for 18 months. WPX pays $100 per day per home to deliver water, so to deliver for 18 months to three homes = $162,000.

In April 2013, PA DEP released the test results via Determination Letters which said there was "no indication" that gas drilling caused the water contamination. One week later, a press release was issued with altered wording which said "gas drilling was not to blame", and this was widely reported by the media.

Despite this, WPX continued to deliver water to these families until Sept 25, 2013, and then demanded their equipment back (water tanks). Only problem is, they built sheds around the tanks which are not fixtures attached to the homes. These sheds would need to be demolished to remove the tanks, leaving the costs of new sheds, water tanks, and hookup costs to the homeowners.

WHO OWNS THE TANKS? According to the homeowners, these tanks were gifts. There was no contract signed by the homeowners which said this equipment was temporary, or that it was not a gift, that it belonged to WPX, and would be removed once the water contamination was resolved.

IS THE WATER CONTAMINATION RESOLVED? No. The last time the PA DEP inspected the homes involved, there were still explosive levels of methane, and high levels of barium, chlorides, arsenic, aluminum, magnesium, iron, manganese, and total dissolved solids.

WPX showed up on Friday to remove the tanks, apparently with the agreement with Bill Dubanevich, esq, who had been hired by the Franklin Forks families.
Attorney Dubanavich markets himself as willing to represent people in water contamination cases against the gas industry:  However, he seems to negotiate a) without the consent or knowledge of his clients, and b) against the best interests of his clients, by allowing WPX to remove these water tanks, without having a suitable replacement in place. Dubanevich has since been fired by Mannings and the Hadlicks.

WPX was prevented by some concerned citizens who formed a blockade around the tanks. Also, Tammy Hadlick ordered WPX off her property as trespassers. WPX complied, but is now seeking a court order with US District Court, Middle District of Penn.

In these papers, WPX has made a claim that they spent in excess of $2,000 on Friday. Strangely, this exceeds the cost of the water tanks by 2.5 times!! ($800). Why don't they just leave the tanks there!?

DOES THIS COURT HAVE JURISDICTION? By the very papers WPX has filed with the court, only the Manning family have an action (lawsuit) before the court. The court does not seem to have jurisdiction over the Hadlick family, yet WPX has asked the court for an injunction to allow WPX to trespass (against the will of the property owner) to demolish attached fixtures to remove these water tanks, which WPX cannot show they own, or that they were temporary, and anything other than a gift.

There are many STRANGE and BIZARRE details of this case, which I urge you to explore at the Franklin Forks Timeline page:

But here is one final thing.... By PA state law, the drilling company is presumed liable for any water contamination near unconventional gas drilling operations which occur within 1 year of completion, and within 2,500 feet. (This was increased from 6mos/1,000 ft by Act 13, passed Feb 2012).

Only problem is, the horizontal well bore is commonly over 4,000'. On a recent "Earnings Call" the CEO of Cabot Oil and Gas admitted they had drilled one horizontal well at 8,200' (Eagle Ford Shale, TX).

Here is a graphical depiction of the WPX wells which were active in Franklin Forks Feb-Mar 2012, when a major contamination event occurred.
The yellow circles are the "presumed liability" distance. The red star is the site of the Manning's and the Hadlick's residences.

The second chart shows what typical spacing units might look like with 4,000' horizontal well bores:

The Presumed Liability distance due to Act 13 was increased to 2,500 ft from 1,000'.
Shown are the Sadecki, Mitchell, Knapik, Carrar, Hollenbeck, Depue, Webster
well pads, which all were active during Feb-Mar 2012

The only problem with a presumed liability distance being 2,500 ft from the nearest gas
well bore, is that horizontal wells commonly extend to 4,000 and beyond. 

Here is a map showing the active wells during Feb-Mar 2012 when the most severe water
contamination in Franklin Forks began, with the estimated spacing units for the wells.

May you, and all beings
be happy and free from suffering :)
-- ancient Buddhist Prayer (Metta)


james wright said...

Bill: Let me get this straight: Do you really believe that frack fluid over 7,000 feet down at the end of one of the 4,000 ft long drill bores actually migrated up to the Manning's well (star location)? Or are you saying it is methane alone? Have you ever calculated how much volume 4 million gallons of frack fluid fills a 4" diameter gas pipe that is 4,000 feet long horizontal and 7,000 feet vertical?

Bill Huston said...

Since you asked :)

Volume of a cylinder 11,000ft long with a diameter of 4 inches is 960 cubic feet. 960 cubic feet = 7181 gallons.

4.3 million gallons is ~575,000 cubic feet. The volume of fluid in the pipe is 0.14%, or less than 2/10ths of one percent of the total volume of fluids.

If we just look at the lateral where the frac stages occur, 4.3 million gallons is like a cylinder 13.5 ft in diameter 4,000 ft. long.

But this is unrealistic, since the perfs are small holes in the pipe, so we should assume the water jets go very far, much longer than assuming a cylinder of uniform distribution. Likely thousands of feet.

Remember that Paradise Road was 4,488ft (proven contamination).

Chances of contamination is worse near flood planes and valleys due to higher hydrostatic pressure (frackers know this well, and the NY Regs reflect this fact). Franklin forks is both valley and flood plane. Also there is a fault line running E-W within 1,000 ft of the affected homes (dumb to frack a fault). Do you think WPX geologists know there is a fault there? Duh, of course they do. Do you think WPX KNOWS beyond a shadow of a doubt they destroyed the water wells of those homes? Of course they do!

Have a look at this video and imagine the pressures involved:

With my knowledge of physics, I would say that there is a significant risk of groundwater contamination at least 4,000 ft in every direction off the lateral.

The Duke Study suggest this also. While a well is active, we see a spike of methane migration in water wells from 0-1000'. Over time, we see that move from 1000' to 4500'.

Where there is methane, there is a vector for fracking fluids.

I hope this is helpful. Have a nice day :)

Bill Huston said...

Industry data: "Some fractures extend more than 1,500 ft above the bore depth".

Bill Huston said...

This is a big problem for NY with its shallow shale.

james wright said...

Bill: MAJOR problem here: "If we just look at the lateral where the frac stages occur, 4.3 million gallons is like a cylinder 13.5 ft in diameter 4,000 ft. long." In another post you showed eighteen 20 ft diameter water balls along a lateral for comparative purposes. Check this out: volume of eighteen 20 ft water balls = 75,341.16 cubic ft and the aforementioned cylinder volume = 572,265 cubic feet. Being an engineer gets one through the fog. Feel free to check my calculations. You are off by a factor of 7.595. A mistake of this caliber brings into question the rest of the article, no?

Bill Huston said...

Hi "james". I just checked my math. Looks like you have spotted an error. Most of it is correct:

1: 4.3 M gal = 574,826 cubic feet

2: diameter of a cylinder 4,000' long (lateral length) with that volume = 13.527 ft. I rounded it to 13.5'.

3: 4.3 M gal / 18 stages = 31,935 cubic feet.

4: A sphere with that volume has a RADIUS of 19.68'ft. I reported it as a diameter of that size. So the actual diameter of 39.4'. This is an error of a factor of 2 (not 7). However when we convert to volume the r is cubed, so it becomes an error of 8x.

This is extremely counter intuitive, that it takes 18 spheres with a diameter of 39' to equal 1 sphere of diameter 103'. (It seems to me that number should be far less).

Anyway, I will correct this elsewhere. Thanks.

Bill Huston said...

PS: I'm not building a space shuttle here. I am only trying to get an idea of the volumes and forces involved. These are all estimations.

I consider getting the answer within 1 order of magnitude "close".

james wright said...

Bill: I find it interesting that you and those that think like you demand something from the gas companies that you do NOT aspire to yourself: perfection. This statement says it all: "I consider getting the answer within 1 order of magnitude "close". My engineering training and discipline abhors "close" and that is why perhaps our sides are so far apart. One spill on a drill pad and you demand fracking be banned. There is nothing that humans design and develop that is foolproof. Make no mistake, I am as suspicious and skeptical of a gas company in the same manner as I am of government or any other company or corporation. They all must be held to extremely high standards. I would be very angry if a gas company, through proven negligence and bad practices, polluted my land. On the other hand, we as a nation need energy NOW and some element of risk will always be with us. Think of driving a car when you think of risk. Later....

Bill Huston said...

"james": there is a very big difference in the need for accuracy between an industry engaging in extremely dangerous activity, all the while spending big $$$ on PR (PROPAGANDA) trying to convince us that it is safe, and DENYING any blame over any water contamination, and me, a blogger/journalist trying to black-box understand what is really going on with very little access to what is mostly considered "proprietary information".

I am not demanding perfection from the gas industry. Because I know it is impossible.

You're an engineer, then you are certainly familiar with the concept of a Safety Factor, yes? It is possible-- and NECESSARY engineer bridges, airplanes, the space shuttle, etc. which a very high safety factor such that the MTBF of critical components is on the order of 500 years. Whereas the MTBF of parts of a toaster might be 50 hours. That is 5 orders of magnitude difference.

NY is projected to have 70,000 wells for NY. If we had 2-3 casing failures and/or serious incidents of water contamination in all of those, then I think most would consider that an acceptable level of risk.

However, we know the actual rate of INITIAL casing failure is 6%. So for 70,000 wells, we can predict there will be OVER 4,000 casing failures. Each one of those has the potential of contaminating aquifers and ground water. Most people when presented this would say this is an UNACCEPTABLE level of risk.

The ONLY way these gas companies can make any money, is to AVOID paying for the TRUE COSTS, including costs of clean up, through regulatory exemptions from the Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Air Act, and other exemptions.

If they made this industry truly safe by increasing the safety factor commonly used in civil engineering projects, airplanes or bridges, it would be so expensive that it would not be worth it to go after the gas at all.

james wright said...

The 6% figure is from Ingraffea. His Cornell colleagues, Lawrence Cathles, Larry Brown, and Andrew Hunter have discredited his and Howarth's "opinion" on "The greenhouse gas footprint of natural gas in shale formations" in July of 2012. Why on earth would I ever believe anything Ingraffea has to say when Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and former secretary Steven Chu have both derided Ingraffea publicly? Chu and Moniz are at the top of the heap in the science community....Harvard no less. Poor Prof. Ingraffea has chosen his friends poorly....Yoko Ono, Josh Fox, Mark Ruffalo, Debra Winger - all landowners in upstate NY with mansions for summer homes that they bought on the cheap. If fracking is so dangerous, why have 30 states permitted it with California's Enviro Gov Jerry Brown being the latest to jump on the bandwagon? So the gov's of all these states can poison their citizens? Come on, Bill....

Bill Huston said...

Hi "james".

What PR firm do you work for? FTI Consulting? Dittus Communiction? Energy in Depth? (These are who IPAA uses). Ogilvy & Mather? (That's who BP hired to troll for them). Strategic Perception? ("Truthland") Ackerman McQueen? (WPX / "Down Deep"). Burson-Marsteller? (Exxon-Mobil) Hill and Knowlton? (ANGAA). IOGA-NY? Business Council? Who are you working for "james" with a FAKE NAME? Who pays you to troll my blog?

Ingraffea cites the 6% number for failed casing, but the number actually comes from Schlumberger.

All you PAID PR Shills know how to do is to insult people, slander people, try to "discredit" people. You can't present your own evidence, except evidence which you've funded.

In fact, it turns out from the NOAA study in Colorado and Utah, that the 4% leakage rate estimated by Ingraffea-Howarth was quite conservative. The NOAA researchers measured more than DOUBLE, 9%.

Now get lost. AMSKRAY Troll someone else's blog. Stop wasting my time. You've admitted you are a FAKE NAME, an IMPOSTER. You insult others with being "discredited" and you can't even use your real name? GET LOST. I'm not publishing any more of your bullshit.