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
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
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
The meeting, where 22 citizens and representatives
of various interests were in the audience, adjourned
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
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.