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Safe Sources of Energy?

Hydraulic fracturing processes hold many secrets.

Safety information held by Michigan state regulators state that one ingredient, an unidentified solvent, can cause damage to the kidney and liver.

A subsidiary of Nabors Industries Ltd. (NBR) pumped a mixture of chemicals identified only as “EXP-F0173-11” into a half-dozen oil wells in rural Karnes County, Texas, in July.

A year-old Texas law requires drillers to disclose chemicals they pump underground during fracking, but the law was unable to compel transparency for EXP-F0173-11.

The solvent and several other ingredients in the product are considered a trade secret by Superior Well Services, the Nabor subsidiary. As a result, they are exempt from disclosure.

Regardless of the effect “EXP-F0173-11” has on the health of humans, there are a plethora of other health hazards associated with fracking. Homeowners near fracked wells can ignite the water which flows from their faucets, due to the levels of methane, ethane, diesel compounds and phenol in the water as a result of the fracking operations.

It is a safe assumption that “EXP-F0173-11” is dangerous to humans, and should be prohibited, but until the industry allows for full disclosure, no one will know.

On a surprising note a full admission by Shell of the proability of further oil spills has rocked environmental concerns about the company’s activity in the Arctic. Shell’s Alaska vice president, Pete Slaiby, discussed the drilling operations off the North Slope of Alaska on Friday: “There’s no sugar coating this, I imagine there would be spills, and no spill is OK. But will there be a spill large enough to impact people’s subsistence? My view is no, I don’t believe that would happen.”

It’s difficult to determine if Slaiby’s comments are a refreshing disclosure, or a statement of indifference, but what is easier to determine is that there will very likely be an oil spill in the Arctic.

Image: Rena Schild / Shutterstock.com

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