Drillers defend ‘fracking’

With 24 truck-mounted pumps, the slurry is injected under high pressure into the shale through holes in the steel casing. Sometimes, the wells “sand up.” The clog that formed earlier this month was dislodged by snaking a 2-mile-long pipe into the well and blowing nitrogen into the hole.

A “slick-water” frack typically includes surfactants to keep the sand suspended, plus polymer friction-reducers that speed the mixture. Biocides like bromine, a disinfectant used in hot tubs, may be added to prevent organisms from clogging the fissures.

The industry downplays the environmental effects of the additives, saying they amount to less than 1 percent of the mixture. But a provision of the proposed federal legislation would require drillers to disclose the frack additives.

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