What is Fracking?
New York City Water and the Marcellus Shale
90% of NYC’s water comes from the Catskill/Delaware Watershed, pristine and unfiltered, supplying water to 8 million people living in NYC. Our water supply lies within the region covered by the Marcellus Shale, a shale rock formation spanning 600 miles across 4 states (NY, PA, WV, OH) which will become the nation’s largest gas field.
Not Just New York City
The risk to drinking water extends to 15 million residents of municipalities from New York to Philadelphia. It also threatens upstate towns and landowners. When one landowner signs a drilling lease, air, water, and noise pollution affects neighbors and nearby towns. Woods and fields are turned into industrial zones. Roads are ruined by thousands of heavy trucks. The ruinous effects of hydraulic fracturing do not respect property lines or state lines. The gains benefit a few, but cost and risk accrues to everybody near and far.
Toxic Chemicals in Gas Drilling Fluids Pose Serious Health Hazards
Hydraulic Fracturing (Hydrofracking) technology pioneered by Halliburton made it possible to drill deep down and horizontally to extract natural gas from rock formations such as the Marcellus Shale. This new technology uses drilling fluids containing toxic chemicals including benzene, flourenes, ethylene glycol and methanol which have been linked to liver, kidney and brain cancer, respiratory and skin disorders and birth defects.
Groundwater Contamination & Earth Destroyed
If State regulators in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York allow it, there will be more than 30,000 gas wells operating in the watershed. Each horizontal well requires 3 to 8 million gallons of fresh water. This means the gas companies can withdraw up to tens of billions of gallons of water within the Watershed. These billions of gallons of water mixed with sand and toxic chemicals are injected deep into the ground under great pressure to fracture the rock and extract the gas. Between 30 to 100% of the fracturing fluids remain underground which can contaminate our groundwater and destroy our earth forever.
Impacts in Other Regions
Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Texas, among others, have experienced serious water contamination, air pollution and environmental degradation. In Dimock, PA, one family’s water well exploded after gas drilling began. Tests found gas and volatile organic compounds in the private water wells of at least 9 families. People and animals that drank this water became ill. Families have been forced to drink, cook and bathe with bottled water.
What this Means to Residents of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York
The entire Delaware River Basin (Hancock to Delaware Bay) encompasses 13,500 square miles. Approximately 1/3 of the entire Delaware River Basin is located above Marcellus shale which primarily encompasses Sullivan and Delaware counties in NY, Wayne and Pike counties in PA, and Sussex County in NJ. This entire area is about 4,400 sq miles (2,800,000 acres). This area is designated Special Protection Waters by the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) and because it provides drinking water to millions it is one of the most protected water sources in the US.
According to Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ) and Congressman Joe Sestak (D-PA), it is estimated that more than 30,000 natural gas wells could be developed in the Upper Delaware River Basin in the coming years.
The Numbers Add Up
- Water Use: 3 to 8 million gals of water per well (up to 10 million gals/well reported frequently due to fracking – for each frac): Presumed average of 4 million gals/well x 30,000 wells = 120 Billion gallons of water taken out of the fresh water system.
- Water Treatment: 120 Billion gals x .33 (which comes back up) = 40 Billion gals which comes back up and requires special treatment. 66% = 80 Billion gals stays underground able to migrate into aquifers.
- Landscape Impact: Each well requires at least 5 acres of clearing for every 40 acres = 150,000 acres or 5.4% of the natural landscape will be cleared, leveled,or otherwise altered and disturbed, and create 8% additional surface water run-off into the Delaware River and severe forest and habitat segmentation. This 150,000 acres become SACRIFICIAL INDUSTRIAL ZONES.
- Trees: Forested Catskills = + or – 1000 trees* / acre x 150,000 acres = 150,000,000 trees. This means that 150 million trees will be cleared. A grid of trees at 1 per every 6 to 7 feet on center based upon the following guidelines:
- Water Pollution: Injection of 120 Billion gallons of chemically enhanced water into the ground. 20 to 35% is returned and requires treatment. 65 to 80% stays underground.
- Gigantic Infrastructure Project: 30,000 wells at a (below) average cost of $5 Million each = $150 Billion.
- Air Pollution: Massive Ozone production. 200 mile radius from source.