Disclaimer: I work for the largest oil and gas service company in the world
Couple of points
When the Marcellus first began the Pennsylvania DEQ was poorly equipped to regulate it. That is no longer the case.
The biggest environmental hazard is on the surface where local yokels and Mexicans are routinely rushed through the CDL process and then put on the roads. Traffic accidents caused by vacuum trucks unsafely driven on county roads is an epidemic in every shale play. That is a state regulatory problem.
They were flowing back the frac fluids and discharging back into water ways in the early days in Pennsylvania but that has been shut down.
The heavy trucks tear up county roads and cause unsafe driving conditions for civilians.
The work sites used to be routinely torn up but a cottage industry of lawyers that protect the land owners is booming. Land owners are much more savvy about vocalizing the misuse of their land and access.
As far as water tables being contaminated that has been debunked. Lighting the well water from the tap on gasland is a natural phenomenon from organic matter in the aquifer degrading and creating methane gas. That is an issue as old as water wells themselves. Has nothing to do with fracking
Most E&Ps now have facilities that recover, process and reuse the water so discharge issues have been addressed. Water is now a reusable resource that is very profitable for the service companies.
The chemicals they use are primarily polymers to aid in pumping the water but they degrade when the water is returned to the surface. The most hazardous chemicals are biocides used to defoul the water before they pump it to prevent souring the formation. The biocides degrade and deplete as well when they flow back the well.
If you want to be concerned about something be concerned about:
Disposal wells that pump all kinds of nasty stuff into the deep formations are woefully under regulated and always have been
and "disposable" pipelines that are built with 7-10 yr life expectancies are a huge concern. Those pipelines are routinely carrying millions of cubic feet of gas per day under 600-900 psi and are poorly maintained in some cases. Pipelines built in the 60s, 70s and 80s were built for long life, these new pipelines are thrown together and the transmission companies fight the E&PS constantly on their operating practices. Pipelines in the shales are built knowing the shale has a relatively short production life so they scrimp on the materials and QC. Water and sand/solids build up dramatically accelerates corrosion and these pipelines will fail eventually.
This post was edited on 12/27 at 2:05 am