Session S75 (Thursday, 9:30am, Wartik 106)

P912: Environmental forensic investigation of hydraulic fracturing fluids used in shale gas wells in the eastern United States

Frank Dorman (Pennsylvania State University, USA)

Recently there has been considerable interest in gas well drilling into the Marcellus shale in the Eastern United States.  In states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York, there has been a dramatic increase in the development of such wells, but this has not been without controversy.  While the gas-drilling industry claims that their processes are completely safe and undamaging to the environment, several environmental groups strongly claim otherwise.  Adding to the controversy, the process of hydraulic fracturing of these wells may use various chemicals that are not without concern.  The industrial companies claim to self-disclose their formulations, but this is an overstatement, as the exact compositions are not revealed.  If a hydraulic fracturing caused some environmental contamination, it would not be easy to determine the source of the contamination due to the lack of disclosure and oversight of the operators.   This results in potentially complex environmental forensics analytical method development and sample analysis to determine if a contamination event has occurred, and who the principle polluter may be.

This presentation will address the sampling, sample preparation and analysis of these materials.  Various sample preparation strategies will be discussed.  GC-TOFMS will be used as the determinative technique due to its inherent advantages over other possible techniques.  Finally data will be presented that may allow for the development of protocols to determine both composition of these fluids, and possible point source of pollution should an event occur.

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