The Sierra Club Nepessing Group has been in the forefront of efforts to inform our Genesee and Lapeer county citizens of the environmental dangers of the Oil and Natural Gas Industries’ new push to acquire lands for exploration and production of Natural gas right here in our residents’ back yards.
All natural gas operations produce fugitive greenhouse gas emissions. This often involves the release to the air of volatile hydrocarbons which are endocrine disrupters and may pose an increased risk of Cancer.
12% of wells drilled will produce “sour gas” which smells very bad like rotten eggs, flows along the ground, impairs the quality of life for those living in proximity to the well and can be deadly. One road worker has already been killed and another injured by exposure to sour gas fumes in Otter Lake.
The new form of natural gas exploration coming to our homes is High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing, a process where toxic and carcinogenic waste is mixed with millions of gallons of drinking water taken from the groundwater at the well site, and then forced through a partially cement lined pipe thousands of feet below the ground to fracture the shale formations found there in hopes of releasing trapped natural gas. The water thus used is permanently contaminated.
Although “Fracking” with low volumes and pressures is not new, fracking at high volumes and pressures is and approximately only 50 such wells exist in the state. Two of these have caused significant contamination problems: one drawing down the groundwater by 11 feet with a nearby burned up well pump and covered with carcinogenic silica dust from the drilling process; another causing significant contamination of the groundwater aquifer when the cement casing failed.
The problems associated with High Volume Hydraulic Fracking include nuisance issues like dust, noise, light pollution and increased truck traffic (1500 or more heavily laden trucks per well).  But the most serious problem other than air pollution is potential groundwater contamination caused when a well’s cement job fails and contaminated fracking fluid then uses the well’s pipe as a conduit to the drinking water aquifer. On the average, the industries’ own statistics prove that 6% of cement jobs fail immediately and over the next 30 years of operation, 50% of cement jobs will fail. Failure is not discovered until the aquifer is contaminated.