Thousands of Spills at US Oil and Gas Fracking Sites
By Matt McGrath (BBC) Up to 16% of hydraulically fractured oil and gas wells spill liquids every year, according to new research from US scientists. They found that there had been 6,600 releases from these fracked wells over a ten-year period in four states. The biggest problems were reported in oil-rich North Dakota where 67% of the spills were recorded. The largest spill recorded involved 100,000 litres of fluid with most related to storing and moving liquids.
A study carried out by the US Environment Protection Agency on fracking in eight states between 2006 and 2012 concluded that 457 spills had occurred.
But this new study, while limited to just four states with adequate data, suggests the level of spills is much higher. The researchers found 6,648 spills between 2005 and 2014.
“We’re looking at spills at unconventional wells from the time of the drilling through production which could be decades.”
The state reporting the highest level of spills was North Dakota, a hot bed of activity in both oil and gas recovery.
The data recorded 4,453 incidents in the state, much higher than Pennsylvania, Colorado and New Mexico.
This can be explained by reporting requirements. In North Dakota, any spill bigger than 42 US gallons has to be reported while in Colorado and New Mexico the requirement was 210 gallons.
Most of the spills occurred in the first three years of operation. Around 50% of spills were related to the storage and movement of fluids via pipelines. The underlying causes were difficult to determine because of different reporting requirements. READ MORE Abstract (Environmental Science & Technology)