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Letter: Treading Water: Pros And Cons Of Fracking

I read with interest about the panel discussion on the pros and cons of so-called “hydrofracking.” The debate as framed makes good points, however, it also misses a few key points.

When I was an exploration and development geologist for a Fortune 100 oil and gas company, for all the majors I worked with the preferred industry standard practice for both oil and gas well completions was called an “acid frac,” or an “acid job.” Based on my understanding, this is still the preferred method for non-horizontal wells, not hydrofracking.

The acids pumped into these wells, such as hydrofluoric and hydrochloric acid, are highly concentrated to “clean out” or dissolve rock and natural cements to produce preferential flow paths for oil and gas. These old practices involve hundreds of thousands of U.S. wells—more than are typically hydrofracked. These practices are unregulated, as are the drilling muds.

“Mud” is a misleading term. These muds are laden with polymers, chemicals, and heavy metals formulated to bring to the surface crushed rock, coat the borehole, and prevent blowouts. My company experienced a “blowout” in Oklahoma that blew the entire drill string out of the hole when it encountered an over-pressured gas zone and the mud was not thick enough to counter the massive pressure. Muds are excluded from reporting, regulation or oversight.

The key to a successful well is the completion method: the type of mud used and how the well casing is cemented into place. The blow-out of BP’s Deep Water Horizon Anaconda well in the Gulf is a recent case of questionable cementing practices. There was also a major blowout several years prior in Ohio.

Well-drilling and completions are not regulated, left up to what is termed “best professional practice.” Yet large areas and groundwater zones in many old producing areas in the U.S. are contaminated from prior practices. This calls for a broad-based effort by citizens and government to reduce deaths and injuries. Despite best practices, accidents do happen.

Stephen Cipot

News

The community is rallying together to raise funds for a Hicksville native who has been battling to get a service dog.

Nancy Burpee is a 49-year-old competitive swimmer and single mother with a rare genetic terminal illness called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), which causes the deterioration of the connective tissues, tendons, ligaments and vital organs.

Local veterans groups and residents gathered at Hicksville Middle School Veterans Memorial Park recently to honor brave servicemen and woman, past and present. William M. Gouse Jr. Post 3211 hosted Hicksville’s annual Veterans Day ceremony on Nov. 11.

The ceremonies began with the pledge and national anthem sung by Hicksville High School student Cassie Pursoo, accompanied by trumpeter Conner Hoelzer. Monsignor Thomas Costa from Our Lady of Church in Hicksville gave the invocation.


Sports

The fall athletic season seemed to move quickly, but all teams had outstanding seasons with all teams reaching the playoffs except for two who had their best season in many years.

In addition to athletic acheivements, all of the varsity programs at Hicksville High School also participated in raising more than $4,000 for several charities this past fall: pediatric cancer, breast cancer awareness and cystic fibrosis.

Football was Mike Torrellas’ heart and soul. He also liked a good Turkey Bowl.  

Unfortunately, the Hicksville Crusaders co-founder wasn’t able to witness the program’s inaugural event, which took place Saturday, Nov. 8.

Torrellas passed away suddenly last December due to a blood clot, but the spirit and drive of the man who wore the number 53 and tragically passed at that age still surrounds the Crusaders football program.


Calendar

Model Railroad Open House

November 28-30

Popcorn Balls

November 30

Craft Fair

November 30



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com