Since February 2012, Texas companies have withheld the specific ingredients being used in fracking operations around the state. Still, researchers continue to investigate and identify chemicals being used so that the public is made aware of these potentially dangerous chemicals.
The identities of more than 170,000 ingredients used in fracking have been shielded thanks to Texas law. A provision in Texas law requires that chemicals be disclosed to emergency personnel, but not toxicologists or academics. The chemicals shielded are listed as a “trade secret” or “proprietary” information. Oil and gas companies claim that revealing such information could put operators at risk and leave them at a competitive disadvantage.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a process that involves injecting water, and a cocktail of chemicals, down a wellbore and into rock formations to release oil and gas. It is a multimillion dollar business that has led to environmental concerns.
Companies are withholding the identities of more chemicals now than they were three years ago. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, between January 2011 and February 2013, companies withheld 11 percent of the fluid ingredients. A more recent analysis has seen the percentage of withheld ingredients jump to 16 percent.
Some ingredients identified by researchers include chlorinated solvents, alcohols and compounds commonly found in petroleum products, as well as arsenic, strontium and barium.
While it has been difficult for researchers to get information on the ingredients used in the fracking fluid, private citizens who own land on or adjacent to drilling wells can challenge a companies’ “trade secret” claims. Challenging these claims is a difficult process, which means most landowners do not bother questioning what chemicals are being used.
Unfortunately, failing to know which chemicals are being used in the process means when contamination does occur, the public does not know what they’re being exposed to. Pinpointing contamination could also be easier if companies revealed what chemicals were being used during the fracking process.
At Simien & Simien, we have been fighting for the rights of landowners for several years. If your land or water has been contaminated or damaged by a negligent oil or gas company, contact our firm for a free case evaluation.