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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

Firehouse Subs announces the grand opening of its first Long Island location in Levittown on Oct. 17. The award-winning fast casual restaurant chain is famous for serving premium meats and cheeses steamed piping hot and piled high on a toasted sub roll, which is served “Fully Involved” with fresh produce and condiments. Founded by former firefighting brothers, the restaurant’s firehouse décor is based on the founding family’s decades of fire and police service, and the new location is decorated with firefighter memorabilia from the Levittown Fire Department.

Despite the national media attention about Ebola in recent weeks, there is one virus that is actually affecting Long Islanders, Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), with one of the first cases identified in North Hempstead on Sept. 18 and a recent case on Oct. 15 in Suffolk County, which school officials called for the closing of school, as a health precaution. 

 

The Levittown School District has been vigilant with the increase of cases in general. “We are continuing to implement the precautions provided by the health department and the CDC,” said Levittown School District Assistant Superintendent for Administration and Personnel Darlene Rhatigan. “We are also reminding students and staff to be mindful of the importance of proper hygiene including frequent hand washing.”


Sports

 

Four Division Avenue High School seniors have signed national letters of intent to play baseball at local universities next fall. All four players were instrumental in winning the 2014 Nassau County Championship. 

The Island Trees Squirts Rockets U-6 team met with town officials, Supervisor Kate Murray and Councilman Gary Hudes at the 2014 Island Trees Soccer Club Opening Day Parade and Ceremony held at Stokes Elementary School. Pictured also with the Rockets U-6 team is President Joe Badolato, Event Coordinator Keri Cinelli, Equipment Commissioner Chris Blum, Travel Commissioner Mike Rich, Vice-President Brian Fielding and Rockets U-6 Coach Gina Weyland.



Calendar

Board of Ed Meeting - October 22

League Of Women Voters Talk - October 23

Lecture - October 24


Columns

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

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
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Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com