Risks


Fracking in Florida poses many risks.  Many of these risks are summarized in the following map of the Hughes Golden Gate Estates well, a particularly egregious example:

GGE combined risks 2

Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is a highly-toxic, explosive gas that can be released in an oil or gas well “blowout”.  The inner red circle is the 3,000 foot,  100 ppm hydrogen sulfide evacuation zone mandated by Texas Rule 36 which has been adopted by most other oil-producing states to define emergency procedures in the event of an H2S well blowout. OSHA compliant worker safety rules declare concentrations of 15 ppm to be “extreme danger” and to equip well workers with gas masks (cf., e.g., the Hughes GGE wildcat permit).  The larger red circle is the 3.5 mile radius nighttime evacuation zone mandated by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Fire poses a potentially worse emergency scenario: there are no fire hydrants in this Golden Gate Rural Estates subdivision.

No safe evacuation route.  DeSoto Boulevard south of the H2S extreme hazard zone is a dead end.  In the event of fire or an H2S explosion, Collier-Hughes therefore expects these residents to evacuate through the extreme hazard zone.

Water Risks.

Wellhead Pollution of Public Water Supplies.  There are risks of spills and underground leaks from the GGE wellhead polluting major present and future public water supplies. The blue oval very closely approximates the 10-year wellfield protection zone for the City of Naples East golden Gate [drinking water] Wellfield.  The blue zone of contiguous rectangles to the north very closely approximates the proposed future Collier County wellfield zone.

Transportation of Public Water Supplies.  Oil from the proposed well will be trucked west on 24th Ave. SE one block to DeSoto Boulevard, through the Naples East Golden Gate Wellfield protection zoneThere are no curbs on DeSoto Blvd. to contain spills along this route.  At the north margin of the map, trucks will turn east off of DeSoto onto Oil Well Road, passing through the proposed Collier County wellfield zone. Oil Well Road is constructed to industrial standards, but it also contains no curbs to contain spills into this proposed wellfield.

Pollution of Private Water Supplies.  Just as Golden Gate Rural Estates has no fire hydrants, so too it has no municipal water.  Residents all have private wells, all of which will be vulnerable to pollution from the wellhead or leaks and spills along the transport route.

Pollution from industrial wastes.  When brought to the surface, crude oil is mixed with large volumes of saltwater (“brine”).  Twenty barrels of brine may be produced for every barrel of saleable crude oil.  Mixed witht he brine and crude will be other subsurface chemicals and minerals, including sulfur and hydrogen sulfide gas. These must be separated from the oil in a mini-refinery at the wellhead before the crude is shipped and sold.

Of particular concern, in addition to hydrogen sulfide, are the BTEX chemicals: benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene isomers.  These are known to be hazardous at concentrations as low as 5 parts per billion.  BTEX and other hazardous chemicals must be disposed of safely.  If they are not disposed of properly, they are water soluble, and may wind up injected into the “saltwater disposal well” proposed at the site for disposal of brine.  Pollution of drinking water sources via this injection well is even more worrisome than pollution via a fracked main well, because these “Class II injection wells” are dug much shallower, perhaps only to 1,000 feet below the underground source of drinking water.

Pollution of water can result from cement casing failures. Studies of offshore and fracking operations demonstrate a 5-6 percent failure at inception and 50 percent after 15 years. The studies were performed by industry sources such as Schlumberger, Southwest Energy, Archer, et al., not by anti-drilling proponents, as industry asserts. These figures have not been refuted but argued to be made irrelevant by modern technology, although the massive BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, due to cement casing failure, occurred as recently as 2011. Similar failings for land-based wells will require further study, but clearly the risk is present.

Air Pollution.  Drilling rigs, pumps, and the mini-refinery at the well site will be diesel-powered generating diesel, nitrous oxide, and particulate air pollution.  Fracking can create silica dust air pollution.

Noise Pollution.  Drilling, pumping, refining, and heavy trucking are all industrial processes that also create noise pollution.

Habitat.  The green-bordered region is the National Wildlife Refuge for the Florida Panther, an endangered species with only about 100 remaining individuals. The Florida Panther is an “umbrella species”, so-named because as a consummate predator at the top of its food chain, its health depends upon and reflects the health of all the subspecies that support it.

Traffic Risks.  Putting maximum-sized 18-wheeler oil trucks on the inadequate DeSoto Blvd threatens  our water, the Florida Panther, and school children on school buses.

Burden of Government Risks.  To date, no Traffic Impact Study has been done on the Collier-Hughes “development”.  This implies that the cost of mitigating the traffic risks will fall to the Collier County taxpayer.  With road (re)construction costs in Collier County ranging from $2 million to $4 million per mile, satisfactorily upgrading 8 miles of DeSoto Boulevard to an industrial road could easily cost taxpayers $20 million.

 The Collier County Emergency Management Plan

 

 

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