High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing

January 18, 2012

This new high volume hydraulic fracturing (sometimes called slick water fracturing) raised new, potentially significant adverse impacts not studied in the 1992 Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) previous Generic Environmental Impact Statement (1992 GEIS).  High volume hydraulic fracturing is distinct from other types of well completion that have been permitted in the state under the 1992 GEIS due to the much larger volumes of water and additives used to conduct hydraulic fracturing operations.  Horizontal drilling can be done from a central location of multiple well heads which can be drilled from the same well pad, thus making the well pad larger and the industrial activity taking place on the pad more intense.  The issue the DEC zeroed in on was that hydraulic fracturing requires chemical additives, some of which may pose hazards when highly concentrated.  Also, the adulterated water associated with such drilling may result in significant adverse impacts where they enter water supplies and/or waste water treatment and are trucked offsite for disposal.  Each wellbore of 4,000 linear feet can consume up to 3 million gallons of specially treated water.  This horizontal drilling correspondingly generates greater volumes of drilling waste (cuttings).  In 2009 the DEC published a Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (DSGEIS) which began a study of all the issues raised by high volume hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling that were not covered in the original 1992 GEIS.