Houston Matters

Is Pumping Acid Into the Ground for Fracking Safe?

Companies that drill for oil use combinations of chemicals in the hydraulic fracturing process to free oil trapped in rock formations called shale. You probably know that drillers pump thousands of gallons of water mixed with such chemicals down into their wells. You may be aware there are rules about reporting what those chemicals are. […]

Companies that drill for oil use combinations of chemicals in the hydraulic fracturing process to free oil trapped in rock formations called shale. You probably know that drillers pump thousands of gallons of water mixed with such chemicals down into their wells. You may be aware there are rules about reporting what those chemicals are. What you may not know, is that one of the most common chemicals is HYDROCHLORIC ACID. Yes, that's right – acid is pumped into the ground as part of the fracking process. And lots of it.

We talk with Dave Fehling, Houston Public Media’s State Impact Reporter for Energy and the Environment. He explains this process, discusses the history of fracking chemical usage, and walks us through what regulations exist regarding the use – and reporting – of acid and other fracking chemicals, and whether the industry by and large operates according to those regulations.

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Michael Hagerty

Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the senior producer for Houston Matters. He's spent more than 20 years in public radio and television and dabbled in minor league baseball, spending four seasons as the public address announcer for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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