Paula Koch, Geologist, questioned the science of Bailey's presentation, specifically asking about benzine and radon, and whether they were naturally occurring. Robert Thomasson interrupted her and order was restored after a moment. Koch, who has worked over 20 years in Petroleum Geology, went on to say that none of her family or animals in Oklahoma have been affected by emissions or environmental concerns, even though oil and gas are being extracted on their property.

Much comment was made among the committee members regarding their preference for closed tanks, but Paul Crisan summed it up best: "If you're told not to stick your finger in the light socket over and over, you eventually don't do it," and he voted for closed tanks.

Although he wanted to make sure provisions were available for open pits, should the need arise, Chairman Grant Thayer was satisfied that the MOUs requiring closed pits were the "best" the County could ask, given the technology now available.

Ric Morgan, who also voted with Tony Corrado, Rick Brown, John Dorman, and Pete Zlatev, for closed tanks, offered a caution regarding the "steel tanks" the members envisioned. They might not mitigate the atmospheric problems the other members thought they would.

Toward the end of the meeting, Sean Burke, Southwestern Energy, asked if an open pit could be used for fresh water only. He was asked what that fresh water would be used for. Since it was for fracking, his question about an open pit for freshwater was considered moot.

"Given that we aren't sure how far in the future this will be a concern," Planner Caroyln Parkinson pointed out, "the issue of open pits might be completely resolved."

The meeting, where 22 citizens and representatives of various interests were in the audience, adjourned at 9:10.
Gas and Oil Subcommittee, March 19, 2013:
Members Affirm Distaste For Open Pits
By William C. Thomas
In an unanimous affirmation with Ric Morgan adding a caution, members of the Oil and Gas Editing Committee decided against allowing open pits for fracking fluid in Elbert County in their Memorandum of Understanding.

The meeting, a continuation on this subject from last Tuesday, when Gas and Oil Producers had done their presentations, included two presentations from Elbert County homeowners, both of whom have been involved in water reclamation.

The first presentation, "Flow-back and Produced Water Recycling," given by David J. Bower, (whose work was featured in Elbert-Grab in summer, 2011), dealt with the clean up of fracking fluids. Bower's conclusion: to clean and recycle water is expensive; sometimes more than the water initially costs. If fracking fluid is treated, Bower explained, he prefers to treat it from closed tanks above ground because there's a reduced chance of spillage; atmospheric and surface pollution.

The second presentation, given by Jamil Bailey, "Open Air Evaporation Pits as a Source of Contamination," pointed out that a detergent used in the 1930s: Tetrachlorolthylene, was still around today at gas sites; that methane emissions were 17 times higher at gas sites in Pennsylvania, and that pit liners were vulnerable to certain chemicals. These chemicals: Xylene, Tolulene, salt, benzine, can combine to deteriorate the liners, as can UV rays from the sun and high winds, such as Elbert County has. This can lead to contamination of ground water and wells. Further, Bailey pointed out that atmospheric evaporation from open pits was hazardous.

Bailey has a Bachelor of Science from Sonoma State University in California and spent 3 years in Environmental Water Quality at Brelje and Race Laboratories.

Jill Duvall added that the Environmental Protection Agency was set to ban open pits in 2015. Rick Blotter pointedly asked Bower if he were in favor of open pits. Bower said he was not.

Sean Burke, of Southwestern Energy, echoing what John Campbell had described the week before, said that open pits were constantly monitored and that wildlife was kept from access by barbed wire. Emissions were constantly monitored as well. J.B. Condill, of Renegade Oil and Gas, presented a map of the County's existing oil and gas wells, drilled over 50 years ago, which had been "fracked" with no apparent damage to water or the environment.